I’ve been reading a couple of fairy-tale like series this month – princesses! – and instead of reviewing each book one by one, I’m going to do mini-reviews in a single set. No sense clogging up my blog with tons and tons of mini-reviews!
For Part I of these Happily Ever After minis, I’m reviewing the rest of the fairy tale romances from Eloisa James, after reading A Kiss at Midnight early in the month. As I said in that review, I’m not really a romance reader, usually finding them awkward, stilted, and unsatisfying. I was impressed by Kiss, however, and my reading needs tended more toward fast, friendly, and no-stress this month. A bunch of books with sexy sex and guaranteed happy endings were just the things!
When Beauty Tamed the Beast
This book was extremely enjoyable! I think I liked it better than the first in the series, especially the lead-up, which felt a little shaky in Kiss. However, I admit that the ending of Kiss was a little less shaky than in this book, so there’s that trade-off. Still, I enjoyed all the characters, especially how pragmatic the heroine, Linnet, is. I also really loved the sarcastic, joking banter between the two leads.
The Duke is Mine
This book was a DNF for me. I read these out of order, with this one being fourth instead of third, and before I began, I was warned about it. Amy of Amy Reads, who originally turned me onto these books, mentioned some distasteful things regarding the way mentally disabled characters are treated. She linked me out to a spoileriffic review, which went into much more detail. Even so, I decided to try the audio out, with these warnings in mind. By the time I met the first disabled character in question, Rupert, I couldn’t continue. It was less the way he was spoken about beforehand and more the way he was presented when he actually showed up that confirmed I didn’t want to read any further.
The Ugly Duchess
Though this is the fourth book in this particular series, the books are standalone, and I actually read this one third. And, unfortunately, it’s the first book that I didn’t delight in. The formula was different, which would have been okay except that it led to a lot of stilted characterization and language. This is the first of these books that had awful euphemisms during sex, and I was totally not attracted to the feisty pirate aspect of the book. This one also bordered on rape-fantasy a couple times, and that’s not for me. Note that there isn’t actually any sexual violence or threat, just that the female here seems to enjoy the idea of pretending such. Totally fine, if it’s consensual, just not for me. Anyway, this one was a bust.
Once Upon a Tower (audio)
I admit, after the last two duds, I was really worried that I’d made a mistake in continuing past the first couple books in this particular series. Thankfully, however, Once Upon a Tower was fantastic! Not only was the plot, characters, pacing, and all the rest more streamlined, but everything seemed more fleshed out than even the first two books. The only time I was even remotely uncomfortable was when the male lead intends to do something particularly awful, except then he doesn’t, and yay! Unlike the other books in this series, I could see this existing outside the realm of romance novels. As for listening on audio, I was worried that the narrator (Susan Duerden) would be awful or awkward during certain sections. Thankfully, I was wrong here, too, and other than the particularly annoying habit of adding the exact same laugh every time the text says someone laughs/giggles, I quite enjoyed the audio experience!
– The titles and covers are horribly cheesy and grin-worthy.
– I really have no intention to keep reading books of this kind, but it was fun to get out of my comfort zone a short while.