Read For the Wolf

Read For the Wolf (Wilderwood, #1)

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.

Gnarly ending, but fitting. Parts felt YAish, probably because the heroine and her sister are twenty and blindingly dumb sometimes. I had to roll my eyes at the sister a lot — for someone trained to be queen, she is pretty oblivious. The magic system is cool and creepy and very bloody. I like the way the forest itself gets an arc. It’s a good Beauty and the beast retelling, though a weird choice to put so much weight in story on the red cloak, and to put it on the cover, so you expect it to be riding hood 🤷‍♀️


Read The Monster of Montvale Hall

Read The Monster of Montvale Hall (Saints & Sinners Book 1)

A childhood tragedy had shaped the life of Robert Forsythe, the Duke of Montvale Hall, forever.

He kept himself isolated from the world and the people in it, reveling in his reputation as a monster.

Locked in a world of guilt and grief, nobody had ever been able to break down the walls he kept around him. Nobody had ever tried.

And if being a monster kept everyone away, then a monster he would be.

Abigail Langton was as headstrong as she was mischievous, so it was no surprise that she wasn’t exactly welcomed at Montvale Hall with open arms.

It didn’t take her long to understand why its owner was called a monster.

It took even less time to realize that monster or not, Abigail’s heart called to him in a way she couldn’t deny or understand.

Robert’s world is turned upside down and inside out by the irrepressible Abigail. And try as he might to avoid it, he finds himself drawn to her in ways he doesn’t want. In ways that scare the wits out of him.

Will Robert give in to the temptation that is Abigail? And will Abigail find the heart of the man beneath the monster?

I didn’t realize this was a sweet romance 😣

I’m not sure the hero had enough going for him for me to buy that she fell in love with him despite his constant snapping and rudeness. They didn’t seem to have much in the way of conversation, especially that didn’t end in him yelling.

Not a lot happened in this? One dramatic interaction was… stumbling on the staircase. Another was… disputing wildflowers as decoration. (His antipathy towards the wildflowers was never clear to me.)

Saw the climax coming though I was hoping it wouldn’t go that way… at least it was less dramatic than I was braced for.

Is it not fridging if the female character is killed to traumatize the hero, rather than motivate him? 🤔 I kept waiting for her to come back from the dead.

Got this for free in a stuff your kindle giveaway — hadn’t read this author previously. Not planning to read the next book.

Fantasy Romance

Read Wolf’s Lady

Read Wolf’s Lady

The only mistake Lady Adelle Thornber ever made turned into a scandal that rocked London and saw her banished to Scotland, the reluctant bride of a reclusive baron. But Lord Henry MacAulay isn’t what she was expecting: he cares deeply for his barony and for her.

As the sole heir to the Roseheath title and werewolf alpha, Henry knew that he had to take a mate someday. He just didn’t expect to find her in a disgraced noble’s daughter forced into marriage with him. But as he falls more deeply in love with Adelle, he can’t bring himself to tell her what he really is. But when he can, it isn’t his werewolf nature that may tear them apart.

Another loose Beauty and the Beast retelling with werewolves. This worked as a novella but didn’t have much room to develop the characters’ personalities and histories like a full novel would. The hero’s decision not to tell her things was obviously dumb, and the heroine’s actions during the climax were foolish though her reasoning was explained.


Read Bella and Her Beast

Read Bella and Her Beast

The clock is ticking for Greyson Devereaux and life as he knows it will soon come to an end. A man by day and owned by the moon at night.

There is only one option—find his one true mate or be bound to the beast for eternity. For years he searched, hoped to find her but his efforts have come up short…until now.

With only three months remaining, how can he convince Bella that she’s the one and how can she tame the beast within?

I liked the first half well enough to keep reading, but wasn’t thrilled about several things in the second half. I think the pacing and stakes didn’t quite match, maybe? Like, this guy has a month to convince this woman to fall in love with him but still can’t bring himself to talk to her…then when he does ask her on a date, she invites him in and he says no? Then he goes on an unexplained trip when he has one week left to win her over? So the slow pacing made the stakes feel lower.

I did like the concept of making the Beast a werewolf rather than all-the-time beast.

Some of the dialogue / internal narration felt a little awkward.

The hero coming on full millionaire (midway) felt weird to me. It felt kinda skeezy that he’s sucking up to her with expensive gifts.

The librarian kept reading on her shift — and also doing the page’s job and shelving books? Wasn’t like that when I worked at the circulation desk 🤷‍♀️

Fantasy Romance

Re-read Radiance

Read Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1) by Grace Draven

The Prince of no value
Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

The noblewoman of no importance
Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

This is interesting in that the sources of tension between hero and heroine are all external in this book, and they are mostly reactive about what happens to them as they’re trying to live their lives – but it works. On reread the latter half feels slightly episodic, though there is a chain to the events that needs all those pieces.

The affection between them is there from the start, and it takes them a while to realize they’ve fallen in love. That makes me think of Courtney Milan’s The Duke Who Didn’t where she said she was attempting (and IMO knocked out of the park) a less confrontational, more collaborative kind of story (I’m misremembering exactly how she put it 🤷‍♀️).

It’s a fun take on Beauty and the Beast, making them both beastly in each others’ eyes, and happy to be “exiled” together in his castle in the hinterlands away from politics. Nips that coersion / captive weirdness at the root.


Read My Darling Duke

Read My Darling Duke (Sinful Wallflowers, #1)

Miss Katherine Danvers is a desperate wallflower. Her family is on the brink of financial ruin, and it is up her to save her mother and sisters from a life of indignities. So she transforms herself into the incomparable Kitty Danvers, the fiancée of the enigmatic and reclusive Alexander Masters, Duke of Thornton—once dubbed the mad, bad, and dangerous catch of the Season.

Ten years ago, society and the woman Alexander Masters loved called him a monster, after a tragic accident left him scarred and confined to a wheelchair. His heart exists in cold, lonely exile, until he learns he has a fiancée—a deceptive, clever, and utterly intriguing woman he’s never met. Miss Danvers will now learn the consequences of engaging herself to the beast, for Alexander is determined to make her his. Soon, they are involved in a chase, a clash of wills, and though he once vowed to never love again, he burns for the enchanting Miss Danvers. And denying his heart may cost him an exquisite love that happens only once in a lifetime.

Really enjoyed this! Kitty’s scheme was quite daring, and I loved how he reacted with curiosity instead of anger. His disability didn’t bother her like it bothered him, making him act rashly. Fun to have the servants all cheering him on and meddling helpfully as in the Disney version.

Romance Science Fiction

Read Contaminated

Read Contaminated

The people of my planet are plagued by a devastating genetic curse. To treat the disease’s effects, we’ve turned to cultivating a rare flower. That’s my occupation: raising and studying this flower. That’s precisely what I’m doing the daycycle that an alien drops into our research plot, approaches our plant…
And cuts my flower’s head off, stealing the bloom.She stole our only hope. I can’t let her get away.

I liked this but not as well as the second one (which I read first 🤷‍♀️). A fun reimagining of Beauty and the Beast with lots of humor. I’d have liked it a little longer — a little more plot to make them act on their attraction would have been beneficial, I think.


Read The Beast of Beswick

Read The Beast of Beswick (Everleigh Sisters, #1)

Lord Nathaniel Harte, the disagreeable Duke of Beswick, spends his days smashing porcelain, antagonizing his servants, and snarling at anyone who gets too close. With a ruined face like his, it’s hard to like much about the world. Especially smart-mouthed harpies—with lips better suited to kissing than speaking—who brave his castle with indecent proposals.

But Lady Astrid Everleigh will stop at nothing to see her younger sister safe from a notorious scoundrel, even if it means offering herself up on a silver platter to the forbidding Beast of Beswick himself. And by offer, she means what no highborn lady of sound and sensible mind would ever dream of—a tender of marriage with her as his bride.

I quite enjoyed their first meeting, even if it was a bit over the top and didn’t portray the hero in the best light. After that, it seemed that the plot controlled the characters, than the other way round. It didn’t make sense why the hero would allow the heroine to stay after showing up uninvited – the vase inventory doesn’t seem reason enough since the hero wanted to donate it all in the first place. The heroine seems to act out of strong desire to protect her sister, and then backs off when danger seems at its worst.

There were some things that weren’t quite there for me. I was hoping the themes hinted at then with his father’s vase collection would be more developed. Instead, his animosity towards his father through the vases seems to dissipate entirely. There was a confrontation I expected with the villain based on the opening that didn’t happen (though I did appreciate the confrontation that did happen). The hero gives the heroine an exorbitant gift that seems out of nowhere, then it’s never mentioned again. The storyline with the sister’s courtship hints at intrigue and danger but skirts around it.

The hero was similar in description to the hero in Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal (without the funny swearing and entertaining evening hobby). But, it is a historical romance Beauty and the Beast retelling so maybe all such heroes will be horribly scarred from war and play lawn games indoors and have been dumped ignobly by a squeamish lady. I rolled my eyes a little at the reason for his scarring — single-handedly fighting off six Frenchmen with bayonets without getting gored anywhere essential. Could it have been three soldiers with bayonets maybe?

I hate the “I don’t want kids because no one deserves me as their father” trope.

Oh no! I just realized why the author’s name sounded familiar! Her most recent book was at the heart of a scandal with accusations of racism (that seemed warranted). I meant not to read anything by her, but didn’t look at her backlist when I picked this…


Read Love is a Rogue

Read Love Is a Rogue (Wallflowers vs. Rogues, #1) by Lenora Bell

Once upon a time in Mayfair, a group of wallflowers formed a secret society with goals that had absolutely nothing to do with matrimony. …

I have read the books that came before this but only had a very loose recollection of the characters and even less the plots. I seem to recall liking them better than this one. I did like it, but found the heroine a bit grating at first and the ending a bit too pat.

Theoretically a gender swapped Beauty and the Beast but seemed pretty mild except for the housekeepers who were very thinly veiled Mrs. Potts and Cogsworth.

Fantasy Romance

Read Bitterburn

Read Bitterburn (Gothic Fairytales Book 1) by Ann Aguirre

Amarrah Brewer is desperate and grief-stricken. For ages, the town of Bitterburn has sent tribute to the Keep at the End of the World, bu…

Nice reimagining of Beauty and the Beast, faithful to the original story with dashes of inspiration from the Disney movie.

Reminded me in story but not in tone of Ursula Vernon’s version, Bryony and Roses, with a magical garden and whispering voices and two mysterious forces battling each other for the keep and it’s inhabitants.

The premise reminded me too of Uprooted, but the tone of this was somehow darker. It’s an interesting contrast in retellings, both young women making a meal as their first task at the castle, where in Bitterburn the heroine is deadened to the world with depression and abandonment and settles in to survive with cheerless competence, while in Uprooted the heroine has been torn unexpectedly from her home and family and is convinced she’ll be killed or raped and can barely hold herself together.