Review of Damnation: A Cinderella Retelling by M. J. Haag

Synopsis:
Abused but not beaten, I will break the curse.
With the reason behind her mother’s death revealed, it’s a race for Eloise to exact her revenge and prevent her stepsisters from marrying the prince. However, amidst the glittering jewels and colorful ball gowns, the royal court holds secrets of its own that will devastate Eloise and strike a final blow to her plans. Betrayed by the one person she thought she could trust, Eloise questions how far she’s willing to go for revenge.


After all, in the game of kingdoms, everyone is a pawn.

Review:
Ooo, we had the heat, the romance, and enough twists and turns that I wasn’t sure exactly how it might end. I absolutely loved the twist with Prince Greydon, and I had expected it since the first book so I wasn’t terribly surprised. I loved how drawn to the right thing Eloise stays, and how she has to fight with her heart to consider if the things she has had to do for survival make her bad, or if she is bad to wish the things others have done onto them. There were so many neat twists and turns, and I especially loved the part with her hair. It was never fully explained but lovely all the while.

In the end I am left with a couple of questions: I wonder if Eloise and/or Kellen end up as magic users, if Eloise kept her second promise to Rose, and when Kellen’s book is going to be out! I am impatiently awaiting the continue of this series.

All in all, while I loved this series and thought it was very different and dark but in other ways from The Beastly Tales, I wouldn’t necessarily say you’d like this one because you liked the other. I clearly tend to love fairy tales and retellings, but while these may be in the same universe, the feel, story… everything is quite different. That doesn’t make it better or worse, and I love them both quite a lot, just don’t expect you’re getting the intensity and same level of adult themed content from this series as the last. That being said, this is in no way a clean story; just not as… detailed or sexually oriented.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Disdain: A Cinderella Retelling by M. J. Haag

Synopsis:
A single blow shattered my life of glass. They shouldn’t have left me with the shards.

Eloise knows the name of her mother’s murderer, but she cannot speak it. A curse keeps her silent and locked in the tattered remains of her once charming life. Though magic holds her tongue, it doesn’t quell the smoldering spark of her anger or her need to learn the reason behind her mother’s death.

However, games of magic have dire consequences. Desperate to keep those she loves safe from the repercussions of her actions, Eloise must make a bold gamble with her safety that could win her everything or destroy her forever.

Two lives hang in the balance. For, if Cinder fails, Snow will fall, too.

Review:
This book is certainly darker than the first, as promised. Eloise knows more than she should, but she’s proven herself to be quite resourceful. There are so many things left unsaid that you merely will have to read on to learn about. I love her resourcefulness and wit, and cannot wait to see what the third book has in store!

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Defiant: A Cinderella Retelling by M. J. Haag

Synopsis:
A dark, twisted Cinderella retelling that fans of Sarah J. Maas and/or Melanie Dickerson are sure to enjoy.

Magic can have deadly consequences.

When the sudden and suspicious death of Eloise’s mother points to forbidden magic, Eloise is determined to bring her mother’s murderer to justice. She will stop at nothing to find the killer…even if the clues lead right to the palace gates and the prince’s manservant, Kaven. He is irrational, volatile, and prone to knocking women off horses. Given his personality, it should be easy to find the proof she needs to place him in irons.

However, when dark magic is used, nothing is as it seems, and Eloise is about to learn that nightmares often hide behind fairy tale lives.

Fans of the Beastly Tales will not want to miss this new addition to the same world. Filled with magic, unexpected foes, and brooding, impossible men, this Tale of Cinder is sure to leave you burning for more!

Review:
I bought this book as soon as I finished The Beastly Tales, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to fall into another world like that one; so in depth and gripping. So I waited, and finally- the time came to crack this open. Without any more preamble, I quite loved it. This story wasn’t all that similar to The Beastly Tales from my perspective. There was a good set up of characters, a nice revolving door, and there was no mention of anything of a particular adult nature in detail until I believe chapter 16. That being said, the set up and landscape are brilliant, and I found myself immersed and enthralled from the start. I had my suspicions about what was going on, and I was pleasantly surprised that I had not managed to figure out exactly what was going on. I quite love how the bookseller knows the difference in taste of books between the two girls, and never judges them or says anything about it, other than “these books are good for you, these are good for your sister”, and nor does he attempt to censure them. Amazing man! There is mention that the next books are darker, and I look forward to seeing what that entails. Off to buy the next…

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Devastation: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling by M. J. Haag

Devastation: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling (A Beastly Tale Book 3) by [M.J. Haag, Ulva Eldrige]

Synopsis:
Everything has changed…

Abused and rejected, Benella strives to regain a purpose for her life that does not involve the beast.  However, when her father loses his employment, she finds herself returning to the last place she ever wanted to see.

A beast no more…

Alec, Lord of the North, is a man once more, a man Benella doesn’t know or understand.  As she struggles to reconcile the cold, distant man with the beast she once knew, she must also learn when it is right to forgive and when it is time to move on. 

Review:
This book really put so much into perspective of how Benella felt about relationships and trust between people. There were multiple times one had to stop and wonder why she kept doing the same stupid thing without thinking, but then, people are not always wary all the time. Seeing Alec as a man as he attempts to understand and work with Benella is quite nice, especially when he slips and she is reminded of their time alone. Of course I wouldn’t wish bad things on our main character, but it did seem like there was a lot of almosts that set her mind on a course that could have made a very different end. I realized as I neared the end, constantly worried that the happily ever after wouldn’t happen, that Benella was quite a believable character, with real concerns even if the reader (omnipresent as one is) knew shouldn’t have worried. There were times she misplaced care for possession, though I couldn’t truly blame her as she hadn’t been looked after for most of her life. Many things in life could be far more easily understood if we looked from both perspectives, our own and others, after all.

There were two great quotes that I will share from this final book in the Beastly tales.

“My mother once told me time changed everything. In that moment, I realized what she meant. Nothing ever stayed the same.”

“Her search for material wealth and social standing wouldn’t bring her happiness. Happiness wasn’t so easily obtained. It took kindness and some true sacrifice, neither concept truly understood by my sister.”

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Deceit: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling by M. J. Haag

Deceit: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling (A Beastly Tale Book 2) by [M.J. Haag, Ulva Eldrige]

Synopsis:
Only Beauty can tame the Beast.

Safely hidden within the estate’s enchanted walls, Benella no longer has time to fear her tormentors. She’s too preoccupied attempting to determine what makes the beast so beastly. It might be the taxing visits from the aged enchantress who cursed him or his growing vexation at not being allowed to touch Benella.

In order to gain her freedom, she must find a way to break the curse, but first, she must help him become a better man while protecting her heart.

Review:
The world grew and it became larger and more coloured and I thought that Benella had truly touched the beast. I thought that despite her sisters and how horrible they were that she would turn out not differently in part because she was so sensible. We had so much more added to both knowledge of how Benella grew up to also the people who had been around the Beast and how he cared for them. The ending… how, how could he just do that?! I need to read the third book, immediately! One star off for the end!

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Depravity: A Beauty and the Beast Novel by M. J. Haag

Depravity: A Beauty and the Beast Novel (A Beastly Tale Book 1) by [M.J. Haag, Ulva Eldridge, Allisyn Ma]

Synopsis:
Seductively dark. Deliciously beastly.

Benella is concerned with two things–avoiding the two village boys who torment her and scrounging for food to help feed her family. Unfortunately, the best wild fruit and vegetables are near the walls of the estate, a dark misty place inhabited by an unforgiving beast.

When her tormentors lock her behind the massive gates, Benella knows her fate is sealed. Yet, the fate isn’t one she expects. Her encounter with the beast starts a bizarre cycle of bargaining for her freedom, a freedom the beast seems determined to see her lose.

Review:
I quite enjoyed this beginning of Beauty and the Beast’s tale by M. J. Haag. There wasn’t too much spice, but it set a very good scene for what Benella’s life was like, as well as how the Beast acted. Opening scene with the baker left a very lasting impression in my mind thought part of me wonders why Sara would be upset about the particular change in price since it seemed more beneficial to her. I found it very interesting that he was so kind and careful with her for so long. The duality of how she is treated depending on what she wears is not lost. I quite look forward to seeing how the story continues to unfold.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Gleam by Raven Kennedy

Gleam (The Plated Prisoner Series Book 3) by [Raven Kennedy]

Synopsis:
Book 3 of this adult fantasy series continues in this epic story inspired by the myth of King Midas, fae, fated romance, and insurmountable greed.

“I don’t choose him. Not anymore. I’m choosing me.

King Midas made me the woman I am today. Notorious. Unattainable. His.

The thing about being confined is that you believe it’s to keep the bad out. …Until you realize it’s about keeping you in.

I’m now in a strange kingdom surrounded by liars, with no allies of my own, but I won’t sit idly by and let myself wither. No, there’s something that’s bloomed from the pit of my repression. Something dark. Something angry.

But the last thing I expected was for my anger to call out to him. King Ravinger.

He’s sinister and powerful and entirely too seductive. I’ve learned my lesson with trusting manipulative kings, so why does my chest constrict every time he’s near? I need to tread carefully, or I’m at risk of losing much more than just my freedom.

Regret and revenge war inside of me, and I need to figure out a plan fast before I get tangled up in the schemes of kings and queens.

Because I won’t be caught in a cage again. No, this time, it’ll be me setting the trap.
…I just hope my heart comes out of this unscathed.

Please note: This is an adult fantasy series with dark elements that may be triggering, including Stockholm Syndrome and emotional manipulation, as well as explicit romance scenes. Read at your own discretion.

Review:
Firstly, the trigger warning on this one is different than the others, which is interesting, but going into the story itself…

There are so many moments of finally in this novel! Unfortunately I personally found that while certain awaited scenes were nice, I was drawn out of the story because of the modern language usage that in no way fits any other part of this series. Additionally, this was the first book in the series that I found myself actively skimming parts of instead of fully reading to continue on. Auren finally looks inside and realizes all the ways that she was taken advantage of, and her resolve is quite inspiring. There were moments of sheer triumph, and there were also moments of true uncertainty and potential terror. Towards the very end there was a huge twist revealed that I never expected and wow. We end, as usual, with a big cliffhanger, though not quite so bad as some of the others- so frustrating that the next isn’t out until May!

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Glint by Raven Kennedy

Glint (The Plated Prisoner Series Book 2) by [Raven Kennedy]

Synopsis:
“You want to make your life easier? Then be the caged bird that you are and sing.”

For ten years, I’ve lived in a gilded cage inside King Midas’s golden castle. But one night changed everything.

Now I’m here, a prisoner of Fourth Kingdom’s army, and I’m not sure if I’m going to make it out of this in one piece. They’re marching to battle, and I’m the bargaining chip that will either douse the fire or spark a war.

At the heart of my fear, my worry, there’s him—Commander Rip.

Known for his brutality on the battlefield, his viciousness is unsurpassed. But I know the truth about what he is.

Fae.

The betrayers. The murderers. The ones who nearly destroyed Orea, wiping out Seventh Kingdom in the process. Rip has power sizzling beneath this skin and glinting spikes down his spine. But his eyes—his eyes are the most compelling of all.

When he turns those black eyes on me, I feel captive for an entirely different reason. I may be out of my cage, but I’m not free, not even close.

In the game of kings and armies, I’m the gilded pawn. The question is, can I out maneuver them?

This is the captivating second book of The Plated Prisoner series. It’s an adult epic fantasy story blending romance, intrigue, and beautiful imagery. Return to the seductive story of magic inspired by the myth of King Midas, and get caught up in the world of Orea.

Please note: There is explicit language and romance in this book, not suitable for those under the age of 18.

Review:
Finally. Finally, Auren becomes the her that I thought was hiding underneath. She’d guided to see herself and stop hiding what she is, who she is, and facing up to how she is treated versus how she’s perceived herself to be treated. This book was perfect. There was a slow build, tension, but we truly see how strong Auren is, and what she could be, if cultivated. I love Rip. I did suspect what we learn of Midas’ power, but I would think that wouldn’t be a hard deduction.

A few highlights were in chapter 18 when Malina thought, “The women might not all be the heads of their houses, but they speak into the ears of the men who are. If done right, those whispered encouragements can become the subconscious thoughts of ignorant men.”

Another gem would be, “Foolish is the king who does not prepare for attack. From outsiders, as well as those within.”

Another, from the illustrious Rip, “Yes, how magnanimous of him to lock you behind bars all day and call you his favored whore.”

Writing this review as soon as I finished the book, because I cannot wait to get and dive into book 3! *Warning, this book ends in a delicious cliffhanger. Thank goodness the next book is already out!

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Gild by Raven Kennedy

Synopsis:
The fae abandoned this world to us. And the ones with power rule.

Gold.

Gold floors, gold walls, gold furniture, gold clothes. In Highbell, in the castle built into the frozen mountains, everything is made of gold.

Even me.

King Midas rescued me. Dug me out of the slums and placed me on a pedestal. I’m called his precious. His favored. I’m the woman he Gold-Touched to show everyone that I belong to him. To show how powerful he is. He gave me protection, and I gave him my heart. And even though I don’t leave the confines of the palace, I’m safe.

Until war comes to the kingdom and a deal is struck.

Suddenly, my trust is broken. My love is challenged. And I realize that everything I thought I knew about Midas might be wrong.

Because these bars I’m kept in, no matter how gilded, are still just a cage. But the monsters on the other side might make me wish I’d never left.

The myth of King Midas reimagined. This compelling adult fantasy series is as addictive as it is unexpected. With romance, intrigue, and danger, the gilded world of Orea will grip you from the very first page.

Please Note: This book contains explicit content and darker elements, including mature language, violence, and non-consensual sex. It is not intended for anyone under 18 years of age. This is book one in a series.

Review:
I have a myriad of opinions on this one. Firstly, the relationship between Midas and Auren is, for lack of a better term, dysfunctional. We see bits and pieces of their past, but it seems like Auren is both desired and revered, wanted but isolated. There are definite moments where you can see the separation between her and others of similar status, and while at first I was determined to think that Midas was a possessive self-righteous asshole, in some ways further in I began to wonder if this isolation was also done to keep her naïve to the ways of how “saddles” generally work. There is a definitive moment in the book when Auren realizes that there are certain talents and abilities that women in the entertainment industry have for performance and manipulation that she doesn’t know of, understand, and very much lacks. I had anticipated that might be a bigger, more important part of this novel, but perhaps it will come up in the subsequent ones.

Secondly, we have Auren’s predicament. All the saddles dislike her and she’s seem as an oddity, which she is, but everyone wants to see her and finds her fascinating. In many ways, she has nothing that makes her special except her skin, and her position as Midas’ favored. Because of the gaslighting done to Auren, of how safe and protected she is in her cage, she thinks anything and everything that happens if she isn’t in it is ultimately her fault. While I recognize that there may be a bit more backstory that we, the reader, have yet to learn that makes her feel that way, it really makes you dislike Midas as it seems as if that was a thought he put in her head. In some ways Auren could certainly be seen as a Mary Sue, but there are certainly flaws she has that she looks to overcome.

I very much look forward to reading the second book in the series, so much so that I told myself I can only get it if I finish this review first. I recommend it to people who like fairy tale retellings and don’t mind the warnings in the synopsis.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Sky of Wind: An East of the Sun West of the Moon Romance by Emily Deady

Sky of Wind: An East of the Sun West of the Moon Romance (Fairy Tale Royals Book 4) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
He’s my fake husband. Our kingdom’s only hope.
And he has no idea that I’m desperately in love with him.

I’m not strong and powerful like my brothers. I’m just a princess. A rather spoiled princess. My skills will not help us win this war.

But turns out, my mischievous mind and diplomatic mouth are perfect for subterfuge. By marrying Sol–a magic-wielder–I can sweet talk our way directly into the enemy’s headquarters where Sol can destroy the source of their power.

I just can’t let myself get distracted by my fake husband’s stormy eyes, or the gentle pressure of his hand on my arm as we exchange pleasantries with fellow dignitaries.

Pull it together, princess. Your people come first.

Sky of Wind is a standalone sweet romance with a happily ever after set in a larger fantasy world. It can be read on its own, but if you don’t like spoilers, start with Shard of Glass.

Review:
I absolutely loved this book. Having just finished the book about Robin when she was younger it was so great seeing not so young Meena. I absolutely loved seeing Robin again as well, especially with the knowledge that Lady or Maid gave. Meena shows that she had deep feelings and puts others first, even if her family never gives her the chance to ever do anything. Perhaps it’s because she’s a girl, perhaps it’s because she’s youngest, but seeing her learn of the real world and plight of other people was both heartbreaking and endearing. She took everything in stride and worked so hard to try to keep her people, and Sol, safe. This series is magnificent and I loved this book. Highly recommend this series and Emily Deady as an author.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯