Review of Peppermint and Pentacles: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Peppermint and Pentacles: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 3) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
Up on the housetop werewolves howl
Out jumps good old Agent Louvel
Down through the chimney chasing monsters quick
Feeling far less jolly than Old Saint Nick

Red Cape Society Agent Clemeny Louvel is used to chasing werewolves across London. But when she’s reassigned to a special case just days before Christmas, she learns that she’ll need more than a silver bullet to keep everyone on the nice list.


Review:
Finally we get to see a nice decent amount of grandmere Louvel! I always enjoyed her “oranges and lemons!” exclamation but I hadn’t known where it was from. This has been one of my absolute favourite books in the series, because I noticed what was happening before the characters told you, and it was just so festive and fun. I really enjoy seeing the characters relationships developing and how the people interact. I know in some reviews of previous books in this series people have complained that she uses modern language and that takes away from the “steampunk” side of things being Victorian, but to me the setting is what gives it the Victorian vibe, the steampunk elements are from the contraptions, and honestly, I find myself deeply entrenched, wanting more, more, more. I am going to be quite sad when I finish this series(which will likely be today or tomorrow at this rate).

Review of Pearl of Magic: A Little Mermaid Romance by Emily Deady

Pearl of Magic: A Little Mermaid Romance (Fairy Tale Royals Book 3) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
Life in captivity is horrible.

But pretending to be a prisoner is worse. 

Aizel is a Majis and, against her will, a spy. She is supposed to be uncovering secrets for a cruel king, but spends most of her time listening to the haughty, self-absorbed musings of her captor, Prince Erich. 

It would be much less frustrating if she could at least complain about it, but the king has silenced her, taking away her voice so that she cannot wield her magic. 

If she fails to gather information from Erich, her family will be killed. But if she reports back to the king, her people’s only hope for freedom will be exterminated. Can she find a way to communicate with her captor and convince him of the truth about the Majis?

Review:
My goodness does this story have depth! Erich is the last born son, and as such, he finds himself not thought of and respected as his older brothers, and although he does have to act the part of a prince, he doesn’t enjoy having to squelch his self to be prim and proper. Aizel is the opposite, with lots of responsibility and guilt at not being more capable than she is. Both are good protagonists with a lot of depth and growth throughout the story. Both have to overcome obstacles and learn to see beyond the information they’ve had propagated throughout their lives.

I quite enjoyed all of the time alone that we got to witness, and how Erich and Aizel interact with their horses, and the mention of how one is with their horse tends to give an insight to how they are as a person. This may be my favourite in the series so far, though I truly loved A Shard of Glass. I absolutely adore how all of these stories are woven together within one family, but how each story gives more insights on parts of the story we read in previous novels in the series.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Thorn of Rose: A Beauty and the Beast Romance by Emily Deady

Thorn of Rose: A Beauty and the Beast Romance (Fairy Tale Royals Book 2) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
Beauty is a curse.

It attracts the basest sort of men, even a beast.

With her father deathly ill, Isabel Bielsa throws herself into their mutual passion: bookbinding. Hiding in the library also allows her to avoid the unwanted attentions of the local self-absorbed noblemen. But, there is only so many times one can read the same book. When the governing council demands her father’s skills she happily goes in his stead. 

However, her new library assignment is far from private. Prince Aden of Iseldis, cursed into the form of a beast, keeps interrupting her work. With his idealistic standards and comfortable self-righteousness, she sees him as just another man besotted by her beauty. That is, until Isabel discovers that his curse has also affected his eyesight. 

As her feelings for him grow, Isabel nears the end of her assignment. Can she break Aden’s curse before the magical attacker comes back to finish him off for good?

Thorn of Rose is a fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It is a sequel to Shard of Glass, but can be read out of order. If you love sweet romance, a little bit of magic, and a self-assured heroine, than this story was written for you.

Review:
Both Isabel and Aden have strong ideals and personalities, which make them clash and have to actually work to get to know each other–something that likely could have and would have happened even without his curse. Isabel is very opinionated and used to dealing with people thinking she is stupid (something any reasonably attractive female is unfortunately well acquainted with, I fear) and perhaps because of that can be rather brash and cruel, assuming all men are the same because most she has come to know have been. Aden is both brash but quite emotional and carrying, and his relationship with Warrior and dedication to keeping people safe is sweet.

I absolutely love this take on Beauty and the Beast, because while some versions (Disney) claim she’s a beauty but don’t necessarily show it beyond one annoying suitor, this not only shows why she would be so annoyed with men in general, but also gave her a depth and level of intelligence other versions lack. There were always high stakes, and the story flowed very well, and was hard to put down. I absolutely loved the integration of her love of books and how connected she is to her father through her love of reading and the written word.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Shard of Glass: A Cinderella Romance by Emily Deady

Shard of Glass: A Cinderella Romance (Fairy Tale Royals Book 1) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
Once she was a noblewoman.

Now she is a palace servant.

Ashlin never pictured herself scrubbing floors. But with the family savings depleted and her stepmother crippled by grief, Ashlin selflessly takes a job at the royal palace. She can pursue her dreams of becoming a seamstress someday in the future.

However, as she forms an unlikely friendship with the prince, she learns that the future may not be so certain. Wielders of a powerful magic threaten their small coastal kingdom and Prince Onric does not believe that their defenses will hold. 

As Ashlin navigates growing feelings for the charming prince, she realizes that her unique skills could help save the kingdom. But can she trust the charming prince or he is merely exploiting her selfless nature? 

Shard of Glass is a fantasy retelling of Cinderella. Discover a world where heroines can be both powerful and worthy of protection. If you love sweet romance, a little bit of magic, and heart-melting conversations, then this story was written for you.

Review:
This book was sweet, with nice layers. It wasn’t your typical Cinderella story, but there were definite elements that would be recognized. Ashlin is kind, smart, and resourceful and although she allows herself to be manipulated, she is a strong, brave woman. I absolutely loved getting to see how Onric interacted with Ashlin, and how she got to become herself again after tragedy. I will likely continue reading this series, in part to get more glimpses of enthralling captivating fairy tales that you feel yourself fully drawn into and invested in.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

La Llorona – Available for Pre-order

I’m ecstatic to announce that after a long hiatus (thank you, horses) I have a new book coming out. You can preorder it now, and it releases on Monday the 27th on kindle. Paperback to follow.

A completely new and unique book series, enter the world of Alessandra Clement, a psychotherapist who takes folktales and fairy tales, well known stories, and uses them to connect to trauma they’ve experienced, helping them forge a new path. In the debut series novella Alessandra uses the story of La Llorona, the weeping woman.

Alessandra Clement isn’t your usual psychologist, she’s a psychotherapist. She uses fairy tales, folktales, and legends to connect to her clients’ trauma, and guide them through it. In La Llorona, Clement goes over case files of clients who have experienced a severe water incident with their children. By looking at the Mexican folktale from all angles, Clement relates the story to her clients in a way that allows them to see the similarities between themselves and the story, as well as seeing the ways that they are different, and how they can improve their life by moving away from the story so they don’t have a dastardly end.

Review of Enchant: Beauty and the Beast Retold by Demelza Carlton

Synopsis (from Amazon):
A beastly prince. An enchanting beauty. Only love can break the spell.
Once upon a time…
The wicked King Thorn forced the enchantress Zuleika to cast a terrible curse. She fled his court to travel the world, helping those who need her magic most. Until a search for her merchant father’s lost ships leads her to an enchanted island, where Prince Vardan, the island’s ruler, is afflicted by the most powerful curse Zuleika has ever encountered. She’s not sure she can reverse the spell, but she’s determined to try. After all, a prince who fights pirates can’t be all bad…no matter how beastly his appearance.
Together, can the enchanting beauty and the beastly prince break the spell?

Review:
I loved this take on Beauty and the Beast. The premise was unique and refreshing. I did have some issues with the heroine’s name, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. I quite liked Zuleika’s growth and humility throughout the novel, as well as Vardan’s, however, instead of speaking and troubleshooting feelings and emotions verbally, Vardan brushes off Zuleika’s issues and essentially says “It’ll be great because I’m great.”

Unlike most versions of the story, Zuleika knows from the beginning that Vardan is cursed, so instead of being railroaded to liking him and spending time with him by his servants, she understands and wants to help. What irritated me was how long it took Zuleika to realize what had happened to Vardan, considering how intelligent and knowing in magic she is supposed to be by the time she meets him.

Most Amazon reviews seem to have a problem with the sexual mindset of the male protagonist, as well as the sexual parts of the story. I had downloaded this book knowing it was a fairy tale retelling, and that it had been on my list of ones I wanted to eventually read, picking it at random to read from the titles on my kindle. While it is a fairy tale retelling, it likely should be listed under romance first. Though not as carnal as Lidya Foxglove’s Fairy Tale Heat, with only a few instances, there is still a sexual mindset that if one isn’t expecting, might be found irritating.

**WARNING** BOOK BEGINS WITH GRAPHIC (SEXUAL) VIOLENCE

Star Rating: 

Review of Bellamy and the Brute by Alicia Michaels

Synopsis (from Amazon):

A fresh twist on a classic story, Bellamy and the Brute proves true love really is blind.

When Bellamy McGuire is offered a summer job babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family, she’s reluctant to accept. After all, everyone in town knows about the mysterious happenings at the mansion on the hill―including the sudden disappearance of the Baldwin’s eldest son, Tate. The former football star and golden boy of Wellhollow Springs became a hermit at the age of sixteen, and no one has seen or heard from him since. Rumors abound as to why, with whisperings about a strange illness―one that causes deformity and turned him into a real-life monster. Bellamy wants to dismiss these rumors as gossip, but when she’s told that if she takes the job, she must promise to never, ever visit the third floor of the mansion, she begins to wonder if there really is some dark truth hidden there.

Tate’s condition may not be the only secret being kept at Baldwin House. There are gaps in the family’s financial history that don’t add up, and surprising connections with unscrupulous characters. At night there are strange noises, unexplained cold drafts, and the electricity cuts out. And then there are the rose petals on the staircase. The rose petals that no one but Bellamy seems to be able to see. The rose petals that form a trail leading right up to the 3 rd floor, past the portrait of a handsome young man, and down a dark hallway where she promised she would never, ever go…

As Bellamy works to unravel the mysteries of Baldwin House and uncover the truth about Tate, she realizes that she is in way over her head… in more ways than one. Can her bravery and determination help to right the wrongs of the past and free the young man whose story has captured her heart?

Review:
This story felt like it went on forever, and I never wanted to set it down. There are twists and turns everywhere, both supernatural and common teenage problems to see and deal with, and all of it very relatable. Bellamy’s father is known for being crazy, and people worry or laugh suggesting she’ll be the same, so already, Bellamy has to deal with being ostracized and belittled, even if just for being smart at times.

With supernatural uncertainties, Tate and Bellamy find themselves having to figure out a mystery, while also learning about each other and how to associate with someone physically disabled. All in all, I thought the situations, and their reactions to them, were very realistic, and the story was gripping and quite wonderful. I certainly recommend, especially to those who enjoy Beauty and the Beast.

Star Rating: 

Review of A Beauty for the Scarred Duke by Bridget Barton

Synopsis (from Amazon):

As young girls, Lady Isabella Tate, daughter of the Earl of Upperton, and her friend, Esme, told each other terrifying tales of the monster. But not just any monster. This monster was alive and living in his old mansion behind a tangle of overgrown hawthorn trees in the very same county. This monster was none other than Elliot Covington, the Duke of Coldwell.

The Duke of Coldwell, scarred for life in a fire which claimed the lives of those dearest to him has been hiding in his mansion for almost eighteen years. He knows he is a figure of fear and speculation in the county and chose many years before to live a life of self-imposed isolation. But he is the loneliest Duke in all of England. When the Earl of Upperton sells his daughter off as a bride for the disfigured Duke, Isabella has never been more terrified. Due to marry a man she has never met and always believed to be a monster, she truly believes her life is over.

But is life with the Duke really something to be afraid of? Will Isabella be able to get past her own prejudice and see the man beneath the scars? And will the Duke be able to let go of the pain and guilt that has swallowed him whole for almost two decades and find a new life with a new love?

Review:
While Isabella might be beautiful, she hadn’t experienced true caring, love, and compassion from her own parents (though her friend Esme is loyal and does care). When she meets the Duke, she wasn’t ready to see beyond appearances. As she gets to know him it seems that Coldwell isn’t as primitive and demanding as she’d thought he would be.

While she has to get used to being seen differently due to who she is with, Coldwell has to learn how to step out of the shadows, and deal with society once more after his long disappearance, which takes courage and love on both ends. Throughout the novel Coldwell shows more consideration and caring towards Isabella’s well being, future, and happiness, than her family ever did, showing Isabella what love could truly be like.

Star Rating: 

 

Review of Kind Ella and the Charming Duke by Bridget Barton

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Following the death of her beloved father, Ella Winfield is devastated when her mother, a woman with untamed social aspirations, hastily marries the Earl of Dandridge. He is a humorless man, and one whom Ella does not trust for a moment. Leaving her beloved Longton Manor behind, Ella is cast adrift in the large and unwelcoming Dandridge Hall, despite her desperate plea that her mother need not marry at all.

The Earl’s daughters, Lady Patience and Lady Georgiana, are spoiled and manner less young ladies, used to their own way in all things and fiercely competitive with one another. But when the Duke of Hillington is reported to be searching for a suitable bride, the tension between the sisters reaches new heights. With Ella’s simple beauty, intelligence, and fine manners, the Earl seeks to hide her away from the world and, more importantly, the Duke of Hillington himself.

When he determines that Ella not attend a masquerade ball to which the whole family has been invited, Ella takes it upon herself to attend in disguise and spy on the ambitious little family for her own amusement. When she finds herself in anonymous conversation with the Duke himself, she realizes that there is more to him than a man who would seek nothing more than a pretty bride with a large dowry. He is open and amusing and she finds herself quite captivated.

Rufus Darnley, the Duke of Hillington, cannot shake from his mind the curious and exciting young woman who appeared at his masquerade ball uninvited, and he can no longer find any enthusiasm for his search for a wife with whom he might provide an heir to the Duchy. When he finds the discarded mask of the mysterious woman who left the ball without a word, he holds on to the hope that he might one day discover her true identity.

As the Earl of Dandridge plots the most appalling schemes to keep the Duke interested in his own daughters, Ella Winfield must do what she can to stop the man she is fast becoming attracted to from being steered in the direction of either Lady Patience or Lady Georgiana, all without being discovered by the family who have, one by one, turned their backs upon her.

Review:
This book shows that kindness can go a long way, but so can cruelty. Part of what makes the Duke realize there is something about Ella is that she is so excluded from family life. In the end it is both Ella’s meek nature, but also her intelligence and curiosity that draw the Duke in. I found the book both shocking, sad, and heartbreaking at times. It was a book that really grasped me and pulled me in, and I quite enjoyed it.

Star Rating: 

Review of The Princess Search by Melanie Cellier

Synopsis (from Amazon):
An outcast.
A prince.
And a deadly rebellion…

After a lifetime of rejection, seamstress Evie can’t trust Frederic, the crown prince of Lanover–not his words of friendship or the way the warmth in his eyes seems to ask for even more. But when they end up on a tour of his kingdom–one filled with increasing danger–Evie’s mistrust might doom them all.

In this spin on the classic fairy tale, an ugly duckling must discover her true worth in order to save her kingdom and maybe even find true love.

Review:
This book truly shows that your past experiences will aid you in your future, and that the way you look at your life is just as important, if not moreso, than what you’ve gone through in the past. Although things hurt, experiencing pain is a part of life.

I quite loved how Evie, a seamstress who designed all sorts of clothes, ended up among a royal tour, getting to help the kingdom and teach the crown prince how to see beyond the obvious, and look for little details, reliving the life she had before, and realizing that getting out of it and being in a position to help isn’t something to be ashamed of– she should be proud of how she’d worked to elevate herself, and become something.

Star Rating: