When Maren runs away from the threat of a forced marriage, the last place she expects to end up is the Malvagarian Palace, home to the enchanted gardens, a cursed prince, and a magical rose that traps her there. Crown Prince Briar isn’t pleased to be stuck with a troublesome guest, especially one as mischievous and curious as Maren. She, on the other hand, is determined to escape, but instead finds herself inconveniently falling in love with him. Despite her lack of beauty, feelings steadily blossom between her and the prince.
Their budding romance is soon threatened when sinister magic begins to eclipse the enchanted gardens, a darkness which quickly spreads not only to the kingdom, but to the king himself. In order to stop it, Briar and Maren will both be forced to make a heart-wrenching sacrifice, only to realize that the gardens’ requirements may prove too high a price.
Inspired by Beauty and the Beast
So as we all know, I’m a sucker for enchanted roses. I’d been wondering and wondering where Briar would fall in this series, torn between the Beast and some odd hybrid of Sleeping Beauty, but my first inclination was correct. I was so glad to see that back home Briar has a slightly different demeanor and personality, as he was rather drained and unpleasant in Reflection. Maren, however, I wasn’t sure I would like. From the beginning, her self esteem issues were a bit annoying, though understandable given her father never showed her love. It was frustrating that despite constantly saying that she was used to it her actions proved that she cared far too much about other’s opinions on her “beauty” or lack thereof. Despite this, I quite enjoyed her quips and how prepared she always was to get into both mischief and not let others tell her falsehoods. I could resonate quite soundly with doing all sorts of things like Maren, however, my interests were always nourished and encouraged by family, and when others would make me doubt myself, it generally made me even more determined to become better at whatever it was.
I love the personification of the garden, and quite enjoy how Maren and Briar dance around each other. While originally hard to really understand Briar, Maren’s good nature prevails and his character is revealed in how he deals with tragedy as well as his own issues with self doubt. I also loved the background characters of Maren’s childhood, and how completely dastardly the men in her life reveal themselves to be.
I was so glad to see Prince Drake and Prince Rhea again but we were left with a lot of baggage regarding them that was never resolved. I do hope to see them and a resolution in a future book, though I’m not sure we’d see them in the next book about Seren (Aiden’s sister from the first book in the series, Pathways). Seren was almost as nasty as Lavena in this book, so while I originally thought the next book would be about Princess Lavena (featured in Identity) it is unsurprising to know that the King Thrushbeard story will fall to Seren.
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯
Princess Rheanna’s self-esteem shattered when her former fiancé unexpectedly ended their betrothal. Years later, the rejection continues to haunt her, and now that she’s faced with yet another unwanted political engagement, Rhea will do anything to avoid another heartache.
When a mysterious lure draws Rhea to an abandoned turret of the palace, she discovers a magic mirror and is shocked to find a snarky man trapped inside. Although she agrees to help break Drake’s curse, things quickly grow complicated, for not only does she begin to fall in love with him, but breaking a curse proves quite difficult when she herself feels trapped––by her own self-doubts.
Rhea and Drake’s relationship sets in motion a series of events that threaten both herself and her kingdom. As she seeks to unmask the evil within the palace and overcome the poisonous doubts consuming her mind, Rhea must make a difficult choice between the path she’s expected to walk and the man she’s forbidden to love. But the more time she spends with Drake, the less convinced she becomes that doing her duty will be worth the sacrifice it will cost her heart.
Inspired by “Snow White”
I didn’t think I was going to like this book. I didn’t really like Rhea because she has such poor self esteem and self worth, but the further into the story we got, while I didn’t resonate with her particular situation, it became apparent why she thought that way. What really drew me into this story was Drake, and his snark. This is a double redemption book, in which both protagonists need to learn and grow.
I really liked how much honour and duty to one’s kingdom and subjects played in this novel, especially because it would be something that, even as a third or fourth heir, you have to keep in mind if you were royal. I did think there were several plot twists that were noticeable far before Rhea discovered them, but given she was emotional and distraught it can be forgiven.
I’ve never encountered a retelling of Snow White that had this type of twist, and I quite loved it. I absolutely loved the ending, and I think that the couple is incredibly sweet and perfect together.
I definitely thought that the goblet was cursed, and I was somewhat sad that it was such a normal issue instead.
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯
Anwen’s uncanny resemblance to Princess Lavena has been a curse since the moment she entered her service, as the spoiled princess has frequently used it to her advantage by forcing Anwen to switch places with her. But Princess Lavena’s latest scheme is her worst—and most dangerous—yet: compelling Anwen to take the princess’s place in her marriage to her loathed fiancé, Prince Liam.
Bound by an enchanted contract not to reveal the charade, Anwen is forced to go through with the masquerade and endure a marriage to a man who despises the woman he believes her to be. As time goes on, Anwen struggles not only to maintain her identity, but to fight her deepening feelings as she begins to fall in love with her new husband, a man who not only isn’t hers to keep, but who has no idea who she really is.
Inspired by “The Goose Girl”
Maybe Liam is a bit like Rosie, but this story was by far one of the best. There were constant stakes, and while you were rooting for Anwen you cannot help but think like her about her situation and how it might turn out. Liam loves stories and adventures, and while he might start off cold and fierce, he becomes oh so easy to love. The tension between Liam and Anwen is delicious, and I cannot recommend this sweet book enough. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in The Kingdom Chronicles and hope they continue to delight me more and more, as the ones I’ve read so far have done.
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯
Rosie is fairly certain that there’s nothing wrong with putting a love spell on a foreign prince. At least she hopes there’s not, because such a drastic measure is necessary in order for her to ensure that the perfect fairy tale romance she’s dreamt about her entire life includes her own prince charming. As the heroine in her story, she won’t be deterred by well-meaning friends, royal betrothals, hungry dragons, or the intriguing guard who stands in her way.
Luckily, Rosie has access to an enchanted bakery and a recipe book of spells, one of which will ensure she’ll win the royal heart she desires. Unfortunately, no story is complete without a few obstacles, and Rosie’s comes in the form of a most formidable foe—a stoic guard whom Rosie may or may not be developing feelings for, one who is committed to thwarting her at every turn. But nothing will stand in the way of Rosie’s happily ever after. After all, what harm can a simple love spell do?
Inspired by “The Frog Prince”
Oh my goodness, this was by far one of the cutest books I’ve read in a long time. The story is written from the standpoint of Rosie, and while one might have thought that the book would follow the footsteps of the the first book in the Kingdom Chronicles (review here) the heroine is so different that the entire world seems different. She isn’t cautious and standoffish, shy, like Eileen, but bold and full of stories. As a fellow hopeless romantic, always lost in my mind, a book, my own characters and stories, I absolutely adored seeing things from Rosie’s perspective, especially all of the stories. While I did think a few things were too obvious, Rosie doesn’t really tend to consider things beyond if they went the way she wanted them to. While being a protagonist is fun, especially if you’re trying to become a main character in your own story, this book does a brilliant job of showing risk versus reward, and reminding the reader that whether or not you’ve thought through what may happen, there are always consequences to actions, and one must be ready to take them– good and bad.
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯