‘Bookish and the Beast’ (Once Upon A Con Book 3) by Ashley Poston

In Bookish and the Beast, Rosie Thorne finds herself unexpecidly working to pay off a debt by organizing a library in a creepy house in her small town. The mood is not improved by its prisoner Hollywood royalty, and star of the Starfield movies Vance Reigns who was sent there to cool down after a recent run in with the press. You’d think any fan of the Starfield movies would be thrilled to be in the same house as one of its leading stars, but even as much of a fan as Rosie is, she gets over Vance’s attitude real quick and the feeling is mutual.

As they get to know each other, their outside personas start to crack and they reveal who they truly are inside. Maybe, just maybe they could see past their first impressions and become more than just passing acquaintances?

What Did I Like?

I LOVE the inclusion of LGBTQ characters. There is a little bit of everything and not one of the LGBTQ characters is a side liner. They are right in there with the action. The story itself reminds me a lot of Beauty and the Beast with a twist that the beauty is not forced to stay in the beast’s castle against her will.

What I Didn’t Like?

Honestly, nothing. The pace of the story, the way the chapters are laid out from alternating points of view, and the cast in general were all wonderful. It’s a book I plan on picking up again once I get through more of my reading list.

Who Is This Book For?

Any fan of Beauty and the Beast will find this take refreshing with the main characters being teenagers instead of adults. It might be a young adult novel, but being an adult myself I still found it enjoyable and a breath of fresh air. Even when things get heated between Rosie and Vance (and you know they will) it’s not over the top and takes its time to warm up.

Overall Impressions

As stated above, I really enjoyed this book and plan to pick it up again. This is the first book in the Once Upon A Con series I’ve read and to be honest, I don’t feel I missed anything by doing so. There are some references to the other books and it’s obvious that Vance was in at least one of them but it doesn’t really pertain to the story at hand so feel free to skip to this one if the other two do not interest you.

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‘Once Upon A Prince’ (Royal Wedding Series Book 1) by Rachel Hauck

In Once Upon A Prince by Rachel Hauck, Sussana Truitt finds herself without love and a future when her boyfriend of twelve years dumps her for another woman. Suddenly all her plans for a future crumble and she’s left wondering what’s next for her. Prince Nathanael is vacationing in St. Simons, GA visiting a family friend and taking time to clear his head about his father’s illness and the very real possibility that he will become king soon. While out driving Nate finds a stranded Sussana on the side of the road in need of assistance. This first meeting just happens to be at Lover’s Oak, a famous tree in St. Simmons that promises love eternal for anyone who gets engaged underneath it. Fate or coincidence?

Who Is This Book For?

If you are someone who likes christian romance, this is for you. I say that because God is mentioned A LOT. This is about as clean of a romance novel as you’re going to get and it still classify as a romance novel.

What Did I Like?

The overall story was really well written. We got a good feel for the characters and who they are. I think some of it was a bit drawn out at times but it didn’t deter me from wanting to continue reading. I liked the final “confrontation” between Sussana and the Queen and even laughed a bit at the interaction.

What Did I Not Like?

Every other paragraph mentions God. If you are not relgious or not of the christian faith it will get old quick hearing the characters talk about praying or trusting in God. I’m a christian myself and it even got to me to read it over and over and over again.

What About The Hallmark Version?

Hallmark came out with the movie version that was kind of loosely based on this title about a year ago. They kept the main theme, setting, and characters with a few tweaks. I actually enjoy the movie version a little better because it gets right to the point and doesn’t mess around with drawing out the conclusion. It also skips a lot of the politics in that happen in the book (though those politics are an important player in the series itself).

I like how they changed Susanna’s parents’ business from a bbq joint to a garden supply store (fits better for Susanna’s interests). I wish they had drawn out Susanna’s break up with Adam a bit more because a lot of detail was missed, but it didn’t matter to the overall story so it’s not a huge loss. You also don’t get the mentioning of God a lot. There’s implied, “You’re meant for better things.” kind of hints but the characters don’t drop to their knees in a grassy field to pray (like in the book).

If the premise of the book interests you but you don’t want all the talk of God, I’d go with the movie instead.

Overall Impressions

In comparison to the movie, I can’t say that the book was my favorite. Before seeing the movie though, I loved the book. Despite the constant mentioning of God, it was enjoyable and I went straight on to read the fourth book in the series because it focuses on Sussanna’s younger sister, Avery. There are a total of four books in the series, and I recommend you read them in order (not like me) because if you skip to the last book you miss a lot of history between the other characters that you hear about in book four.

I’m happy to say this get’s a seal of approval in terms of happy endings and recommend it for anyone looking for a little christian romance.

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‘Fair As A Star’ by Mimi Matthews

What Is It About?

Beryl Burnham has it all. She’s engaged to Sir Henry Rivenahll, just spent a year in Paris with her aunt, and has not a care in the world…or so the world thinks.

Secretly, Beryl is plaqued with depression. Back in the regency era, there was not much known about mental illness, and the treatments were usually hard on the body.

When Beryl comes home from Paris, she finds herself the center of the town’s gossip ring and that makes her finance’ a bit on edge. She does her best to quell the rumors while also dealing with her secret ailment.

Thankfully, she has a friend in the village curate (and younger brother to Sir. Rivenhall) Mark. Unbeknownst to Beryl, but not oblivious to his brother, Mark has feelings that run deeper than friendship for Beryl. This becomes a subject of contention between the brothers when it comes to handling/helping Beryl.

Through a series of events, Beryl must learn to trust her heart or follow the path set out for her by her family.

What Did I Like?

Mimi Matthews handles the subject of depression in a very respectful way. It’s not over the top but it’s not downplayed what the lead character goes through. As someone with depression, I could relate to much of what the character experienced.

What I Didn’t Like?

204 pages felt to be a little too short for this story. I would like to have learned more of the aftermath of some situations and how others played out. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the book though.

Who Is Fair As A Star For?

Despite the heroine having depression, this is not a downer of a book. The depression takes center stage at times but it doesn’t bring the reader into the state with the character. I’d say this book is for anyone looking for a good clean regency romance that takes only a few hours to read.

Overall

Mimi Matthews.

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‘By The Book’ by Amanda Sellet

By The Book by Amanda Sellet is a coming of age story involving a young girl who goes from a private school to public high school and must navigate the culture that is high school while trying to make new friends. Her passion for the classics gets the attention of a group of friends who quickly adopt her as the newest member. Together they put together the Scoundrels Survival Guide, a guide for fellow teenagers to follow when looking for the ideal relationship partner. Each of the types on the list comes from various classical novels they’ve read from Emma to Moby Dick. But what if their list is wrong? That’s where the fun comes in.

What I like?

I liked how the author saw fit to put each of the references to the novels in the back of the book for the reader to understand where it came from. I also like how the main character is relatable. All Mary knows are her books and the characters within them. It’s only natural she would compare them to the people in her life and draw conclusions about their character or personality. Unfortunatly, this comes to bite her in the butt later on.

There are also some LGBTQ characters, and while they don’t take center stage, it’s still nice to see the diversity included.

What I don’t like?

Reading the story felt like it was as long as the book really is. I didn’t feel swept up in the story until the last few chapters when it all goes to hell in a handbasket. I like stories that drag me in and don’t let go. This one was more of a casual read that takes its time in getting to the good parts.

Who is this book for?

I’d say this book is easily a young adult romance, but it’s a very slow burning romance. Definetly not an “in your face” romance where every other page is dripping with make out scenes (there’s really only one kissing scene in this book). If you enjoy the classics and want to see a few teenagers use them to navigate life, this could also be the read for you. It might be fun to see how many references you can get without looking at the back of the book.

Overall

By The Book is a slow burning happily ever after read. I like it because it’s not obvious how it’s going to end and who ends up with who. It takes it’s time to get you really guessing just how everything will play out.

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‘Rescuing Lord Inglewood’ by Sally Britton

Summary

In Rescuing Lord Inglewood by Sally Britton we see what happens after a series of unfortunate events our two main characters, Esther Fox and Lord Silas Riley the Earl of Inglewood, end up married and have to work through their new and awkward relationship. Will the two friends turn into lovers or will this be a marriage of convenience to save their reputations?

Thoughts

When I first read the title, I thought it was about a young woman who falls for a man who might not feel worthy or is going through a rough time and needs a woman’s wits to save him from himself. Boy was I wrong about that. I actually started to wonder if the title was a little off. It felt like Esther was always the one needing the rescuing because of missteps in regards to her behavior. I don’t blame her though. With her brother at war, she was being told what to do, where to go, and how to behave by her relations that were put in charge of keeping an eye on her while her brother was away. Despite all that, she was a young adult and very capable of handling herself, even though she was a bit careless at times.

Who is this book for?

This book is best for those that like clean, slow burning historical romance. Since it’s clean romance (and seriously, it doesn’t get any cleaner than this) I’d say this book could easily be for anyone 14 and up. That’s not to say it’s written like YA fiction because it’s not, but content wise, it’s appropriate for a wide range of ages.

What did I like?

I liked how the heroine was a strong and independent young woman. She comes off as intelligent and knowing of the world. Lord Inglewood is described as being cold as a stone and vigilant when it comes to his heart and his honor, but that seems to change when Esther is around. I see how his coldness can come in handy in certain circumstances in the book but his warm heart shows through as well.

What didn’t I like?

Watching everyone make decisions for Esther was annoying. Not once did she get a say in anything, not even in getting married! I felt the frustration of the character at every step of the way when her future was being decided for her without her consent. She was of age to make decisions for herself yet no one was allowing her to do so. In the times she rightfully lost her mind over everything, she was accused of behaving like a child. I see her behavior however as a young woman acting out because of frustration at having so little control over her own life.

Overall

I thoroughly enjoyed Rescuing Lord Inglewood and after finishing the book and thinking back on it in this review, I realize the properness of the title. Everything that happens to our main characters spans from that fateful day that Esther rescued Lord Inglewood. It turns out happily for them both but it’s the circumstances between their beginning and their end that make this book well worth the read.

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‘The Lost Letter’ by Mimi Matthews

The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews on Happily Ever Reads Blog
The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews

If Beauty and the Beast were to get together with Pride and Prejudice the end result would be The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews. For the part of the Beast, we have Colonel Sebastian Conrad. For the part of the beauty, we have Ms. Sylvia Stafford.

What Is It About?

At one time they were attached to each other romantically, despite their different positions in life (Sylvia being a lady and Sebastian a second son of an earl). When Sebastian leaves for India and through various circumstances, they lose touch and with it their relationship.

Sylvia Stafford is under the impression her attachment to Sebastian Conrad was lost due to a foolish letter she wrote him during his time in India. Sebastian Conrad is under the impression their attachment ended because Sylvia Stafford was a flirt and just playing with him the whole time they were together in London. Both are wrong.

Through a series of events our two lovers find themselves facing their shared past and wondering what would become of their future if anything.

What Did I Like?

The book is just the right length for a rainy day read. The pace is comfortable and doesn’t rush the events that take place. You get just enough background on both characters to leave you satisfied with what you learn about each of them. The humor is brought in by Sebastian’s sister who is responsible for finding Sylvia and reuniting her with Sebastian, to begin with.

What Spoke To Me?

I love the idea of lost loves reuniting years later and rediscovering their attraction to one another. Sylvia and Sebastian have that kind of love that some people fantasize about. The scenes were described in such a way I felt like I was in the room with the characters and watching them go through their various trials. Emotionally, I felt as if it was happening to me.

Overall…

This is by far one of my favorite books. I read it at least once every few months and when I need a pick me up, I pick it up and read some of my favorite parts. This was my first introduction to Mimi Matthews and it made a very strong impression that has left me with the determination to read all of her regency romance titles. Look for more reviews of Mimi Matthews’s works to come here on Happily Ever After Books.

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. The money is used to keeping the blog alive.

‘Voice Lessons: How a Couple of Ninja Turtles, Pinky, and an Animaniac Saved My Life’ by Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen Voice Lessons Image Happy Ending Books
Rob Paulsen Voice Lessons Image Happy Ending Books

Rob Paulson is a name that might not ring a bell at first but what if I said Wakko, Donatello, Raphael, or Pinky (from Pinky and the Brain)? Well, if any of them sound familiar, you’ve heard Rob’s skills as a voice actor. In fact, there are probably very few 90’s kids that didn’t know his voice.

What Did I Like?

In Voice Lessons: How a Couple of Ninja Turtles, Pinky, and an Animaniac Saved My Life, Rob Paulson takes us on a journey starting with his beginnings of wanting to be an on-screen actor to his start as a voice actor and concluding with just past the time he beat throat cancer. It’s a humbling read. I have anxiety and depression and I’ve had plenty of “life suck” moments that have gotten me down but Rob doesn’t get that way. He pushes through, still works as much as he can, and keeps his characters alive all while battling cancer.

What Spoke To Me?

This is not a woe is me story and not once does he mention feeling sorry for himself. Sure, he has his moments of self-doubt but that makes him relatable. This is a powerful story about you can beat cancer and do it while making others laugh. There is also kind of a side story that tells you just how supportive and awesome the voice acting community is. From the start of Rob’s career, he seemed to be welcome with open arms by some of the legends in the business.

Audience

If you are a fan of Rob’s work, this is a must-read. If you have not heard his voice (I’d be very surprised considering his long list of credits ) this is still a story of optimism and hope in trying times and worth your time.

Finally

I give this book a five out of five for happy endings because Rob beat cancer and his optimism shines through every page. I walked away with a list of quotes that I keep posted at my desk to remind me of all that Rob has taught me in his book.

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‘All Fall Down’ by Christine Pope

All Fall Down \ Image: Christine Pope

All Fall Down \ Image: Christine Pope

*Trigger warning. There is a sexual abuse aspect to this review. I’m discreet and respectful*

Where do you draw the line between a happy ending and a happy-ish ending? That is what I’m struggling with here today with All Fall Down by Christine Pope.

After reading Dragon Rose by Christine Pope by hopes were high for All Fall Down since it’s based in the same universe. I imagined another retelling of a fairytale with a happy ending that probably came close to the final pages for all the characters.

I was wrong.

Why Do “They All Fall Down?”

The story starts out at a decent pace but takes a slower turn once the main character, a healer named Merys Thranion is sold into slavery to a wealthy household. It picks up again once the core part of the storY centering on the outbreak of the plague kicks in and Mareys has to kick her training into high gear and try to save the entire household from a horrible death.

Realizing the villain was the plague I came to the unhappy realization that some characters I’d come to care for would die. That’s the nature of the beast when dealing with a story like this. It made for a very sad and lack of warm feeling story. Get the tissues ready if you plan on reading this one.

What bothered me the most?

The death and sadness didn’t bother me so much as Merys sudden romantic feelings for her master. The relationship felt a bit rushed and strange. It was almost like the author needed a romance in the book and decided why not have it be between slave and master.

There is a sexual abuse scene that happens between two slaves that can be a trigger for some and it was difficult to read. I don’t see the point in it other than to make a character out to be a villain. I’m not a fan of using sexual abuse as a plot device when there are so many other ways of doing it.

What Did I Like?

When I was first writing this review I was ready to give it nothing but a one-star review for making me feel so depressed. Then I took a step back and thought about the writing. Christine Pope took a subject like the plague and gave it a heroine. She took a subject as painful as the death of loved ones and put a religious spin on it that made it less painful and bearable for the living to think about. While I disagree with the subject matter and I can’t say this is a warm and fuzzy story, I can say this was a well-written story that takes the subject matter and makes it readable.

How happy of an ending is it?

Without spoiling the ending, it is a happy-ish ending. There is an element that makes you feel a little warm but to me, it’s not enough to make it a true happily ever after. It feels rushed and makes me wish it didn’t happen at all. It almost serves the characters no justice and in my opinion, they would have been better off without it.

I love Dragon Rose so I want to recommend this book but I can’t because of the lack of warm feeling after I was done reading it. I still plan to check out her other titles because I still love her writing, just this one was not for me.

If you want to check out All Fall Down to judge for yourself, pick it up on Amazon. It’s currently free with the other two books in the first of the three Latter Kingdom series.

‘Lost In A Book: An Enchanting Original Story’ by Jennifer Donnelly

Lost In A Book by Jennifer Donnelly

‘Lost In A Book’ by Jennifer Donnelly

Lost In A Book: An Enchanting Original Story by Jennifer Donnelly gives Beauty and the Beast fans new characters, a new villain, and a deeper look at Belle’s emotional battles while living in the castle.

Taking place during the events of the live-action movie, Belle stumbles on Nevermore, a book that is more than it seems and lets Belle take a ride into the story itself. Unlike the book the Beast shows in the live action movie that simply takes you where you envision, Nevermore is a Parisian glamour based adventure story with intrigue and mystery.

During her time in Nevermore, everything and everyone feels real, but is it? And can Belle trust the world that surrounds her or is she taking a chance at losing herself in the book forever?

What Did I Like?

The movie shows us how Beast has changed in his attitude towards the castle staff and in Lost In A Book we see more of that change.

We also see how much being locked in the castle has affected Belle emotionally. She may seem okay in the movie but this book shows the emotional toll of being a prisoner in the castle has had on her.

We also see the emotional bond that has formed by the characters when they realize what has happened. It’s heartbreaking to see Beast and the others realize not only where Belle has gone but that she may never return.

What Didn’t I Like?

Belle comes off a bit naive to me which is something I never thought I’d say about my favorite Disney princess. She seemed almost too trusting of things that seemed suspicious from the start.

Then again, I’m not a prisoner in a castle with all my dreams stolen from me. I guess Belle was desperate to feel something that resembled freedom that she wasn’t thinking as smartly as she normally would have in other circumstances.

What Spoke To Me?

Nevermore allowed Belle to escape the castle walls and her predicament as a prisoner. There are times I would love to dive into a story and watch it play out as one of the characters, but in the end, I can always pull myself back to reality simply by closing the book. Unfortunately, the very thing Belle was using to escape her harsh reality became a harsher reality for her to run from.

Something else that spoke to me was the emotional response from Belle to her situation. In the movie, we see her almost happy at the castle and as the viewer, it’s easy to forget she’s a prisoner. Lost In A Book reminded me that she isn’t as free or as happy as she appears. She’s simply persevering through the challenges placed in front of her.

In The End…

This story is an obvious happy ending because we know that eventually the spell is broken on the castle and everyone lives happily ever after. Lost In A Book: An Enchanting Original Story is something to fill in the gaps and give us more of the characters we love while also exploring the best room in the castle, the library. It’s a worthwhile story to read and one that any fan of Beauty and the Beast will enjoy.

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. The original review was posted on GeekMom.com.

‘Dragon Rose: Tales of the Latter Kingdoms’ by Christine Pope

Dragon Rose by Christine Pope cover with castle in the background

‘Dragon Rose’ by Christine Pope \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Dragon Rose by Christine Pope is what you would get if you took the Beauty and the Beast story, threw in some Dorian Grey, and then turned it all on its pretty little head.

What Is It About?

Rhianne Menyon wants nothing more than to be a painter, but in a society that has ideas of what a “women’s place” is, she might as well want to be penguin. Unfortunately, Rhianne wasn’t only born in a village that disapproves of women painters, she was also born in a village with a curse. Every so many years, a young woman must be sacrificed as the next bride to the fearsome and mysterious Dragon Lord.

When Rhianne’s best friend is selected as the next bride to be, she steps up and accepts the fate to save her friend from what has been rumored to be a one way trip up to Black’s Keep.

It’s Not Your Average Beauty Meets The Beast

The story is a winding whirlwind of mystery and suspense with Rhianne becoming the heroine she didn’t realize she could be while longing to be the wife that her husband doesn’t seem to want.

Just like the beast in Beauty and the Beast, Theran, the Dragon Lord, has his own backstory that is tragic and heartbreaking. That doesn’t mean his future has to be as bleak as his past if he could stop being stubborn for more than 5-minutes.

This is obviously a romance but the romance is just a part of the overall story. The core part of the story is a mystery. What is the curse on Theran? What does it have to do with the village of Lirinsholme? And how will the two of them get their own happily ever after?

My Favorite Part!

I’d love to tell you about my favorite part in the book but that would spoil a major plot point so my second favorite part of the book is when Rhianne…wait…I can’t tell you that either. Darn it! What can I tell you…read, read, read and don’t put it down until your done.

I enjoyed this book so much that this review took me a bit longer than others because I was so enthralled in freshening up my memory I almost forgot I was supposed to be writing it up, not re-reading the entire thing.

Final Thoughts

Dragon Rose: Tales of the Latter Kingdoms is the first book in the Tales of the Latter Kingdoms series. All books in the series can be read as standalone tales, they just happen to take place in the same world.

At just over 250 pages, this book is what I consider to be an average read for an afternoon/evening at home. Get your favorite blanket, curl up and get comfortable because once you pick this one up it will be hard to put down.

Currently, Dragon Rose: Tales of the Latter Kingdoms along with books two and three in the Latter Kingdoms series are free on the Kindle and Nook. Make sure you check them out for a fun dip in the fantasy world.