My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’m very firmly down the middle of the road with this one. It was good, but there wasn’t anything about it that really made it stand out. The characters were likable, both the main and secondary ones. The story had a decent amount of drama as well, but everything felt just a bit too neat. The pacing flowed well, though for me personally everything happened a bit fast between the two main characters. I felt like there were a few moments of temporary drama that could have been built on more. It was overall not bad, just lacked something that could have pushed it over the edge.
Full Review with Spoilers
I went into this book with high expectations. A sapphic retelling of a classic fairytale is something I will always jump on. I was extremely happy to see that this book delivered and then some. The entire story is told from the perspective of Alyce, the traditional villain of Sleeping Beauty. The books acts as much like an origin story as much as it is a retelling.
Alyce is a fantastic character. She is told she is essentially evil and dark her whole life, that she is something other. It was heartbreaking to see how she deals with this her whole life and as much as she tries not to be that person, it definitely shaped who she is. She does what is essentially considered bad things because it is what is expected of her and what she is brought up to believe is the only thing she can do. Aurora is also a great main character. She is a princess and at first glance Alyce’s total opposite. The relationship that builds between them through the book is so well done. It was great to see them connect over their general dislike of everyone around them then it progress to Alyce trying to help her break the curse that will kill her when she turns 21. I loved seeing Alyce’s emotion progress and escalate even if she could quite see it for what it is.
There was a very interesting magic, social structure, and history developed in this book. I especially loved how the decline in ruling from a Queendom to a Kingdom where the queens have essentially given all their power to her husband over time really hinted at the same type of direction the story was going to take. The author did a great job placing these hints and connecting everything in a smooth flow that never felt like an information overload to the reader.
The storyline flowed so very well. There was a fantastic mix of emotional drama, angst and the sweeter buildup on the romance side. The romance was definitely not the focus of the story, though it was very much there. It really focus on Alyce’s build up to becoming a villain. And it was such a ride! Once Alyce crosses that line into actually killing people I have no idea what I should feel. Up to that point we get to see everything that has just been stacking against her and in a way we really see the justification for her actions. I ended the book completely blown away by the turn of events. We see Alyce exactly how we expect, guarding a sleeping princess against a kingdom that hates her.
This was a great retelling that gives the reader a new way of looking at a classic and very well known fairytale. Good story telling and great character development make this an extremely enjoyable read and one you won’t want to put down.
I really struggle with how I feel about this one. For starters it was good. It was well written, the characters were all likable and the pacing was decent. I felt like it lacked something to really make it stand out for me. The drama was predictable and I was a little disappointed that the main characters got together rather quickly. I do understand that Becca had zero reason to hold a grudge against Joey, but I did feel that Joey caved faster than I would have expected. It felt like moments of drama were added for just that moment then they didn’t seem to affect the story very much more after that.
All of the characters where very quirky and the banter was pleasant and entertaining. The characters had a lot of personality and the ones that had known each other for a long time really felt that way. I found the snippets of details unrelated to the story interesting too, like Madison and Gabriella’s past relationship. The dynamic felt believable, if maybe a little cheesy.
Joey’s insecurities about her relationship with Becca where the best part of the story. Her internal struggles were believable and I did find myself feeling bad for her to a point. It is frustrating to see a character choose to sabotage their live when things are going well, but it is something I can see happening to certain characters, like Joey.
The way things seemed to tidy up so neatly by the end was very predictable, but I can’t decide if I would have preferred it any other way. I don’t imagine there would have been a better way to save Joey’s vineyard than having the deal originally meant for them with the Jade Resort to come through last minute. I did like that Joey needed a harsh does of reality from her ex to finally get her act together. Even her ex Simone was a likable character.
Overall it wasn’t a bad story. It didn’t have a huge amount of drama and a lot more fluff otherwise.
Reviewer’s Note: I feel it’s worth mentioning that my opinion of this book reflects my thoughts in relation to the author’s previous work. If this is your first experience with her books, I feel the opinion will be much higher. My views are slightly biased based on the repetition of a particular character type that seems to appear in all of the author’s books.