Review: When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

when beauty tamed the beastReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: These days kissing a man isn’t anything to write home about, but back in Regency times, merely touching a man meant ruin for the lady in question? In When Beauty Tamed the Beast: A Regency Tale, Linnet Berry Thrynne has been caught kissing a prince of all things, and the ton thinks she has slept with him – the product of their union in her womb, a royal child. All she can do is agree to marry another man, or be a woman considered the worst marriage material around.

Review: The fleeting kiss she had was with Prince Augustus Frederick, the Duke of Sussex. He had courted her, but not asked for her hand in marriage. Linnet had, without realising it allowed herself to be kissed by a sinful womaniser (who had been married once, but a woman who wasn’t deemed good enough for him). As far as her parents are concerned, what’s done is done, and they order her to marry Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, an ill-tempered hulk of a man nicknamed the “Beast.” As she is to be wedded to him, what can she do to better her situation?

Linnet isn’t as naive as one would expect. She doesn’t know what impotence is, but she does know a beast of a man when she sees one, and she sees that in Piers. She soon finds he isn’t as nasty as she has been led to believe by the ton as he had had an accident when he was younger, it has since left him unable to father a child, something most men take for granted when they have the right working equipment. He has a right to be unhappy, and sad at his own predicament, but acts more grumpy than outright cruel, which isn’t in keeping with the books blurb on him being a “Beast.” By page 72, Piers is already being nice to her, so it is up to the reader whether they think he is going to be a beast or a pushover.

Good bits:

  • Prufrock, Piers’s butler – he always has something funny to say to his angst-ridden master.
  • Piers being unable to perform in bed – not for the want of trying though!
  • Everyone thinks that Linnet is with child, even though she only kissed the prince – hilarious.

Bad bits:

  • Spending too much time on minor characters.
  • Piers’ teaching session when he first meets Linnet.

It is written in a comical way, and still keeps the Regency theme through the story, and has lots of sensual scenes in it as well. Eloisa James is the author of such raucous hits as The Duke is Mine and A Kiss at Midnight, and this one is just as fun.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: When Beauty Tamed the Beast

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Review: Operation Cinderella by Hope Tarr

operation cinderellaReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Manhattan is the setting for this urban fairytale, and let’s face it, we’ve seen plenty of these novels on the bookshelves recently, as much as there are TV series and movies. Fairy tales seem to be the bread and butter of fiction these days. Macie Graham, a magazine editor is one for always getting her story, yet she is annoyed at Ross Mannon for slating her article on his radio show. His doing this to her costs her position at the magazine and her hating him forever.

Review: Throughout the story she sets out to get her own back on him, but things don’t go the way she wants them to. Ross doesn’t know what he’s done wrong, as many radio personalities are at their best when they are as scathing as he is, but he will live to regret ever having a run in with Macie. Ross only wants a woman who is a good home maker, and the perfect wife to him, but Macie doesn’t sound like she fits the bill in this story. She has her own mind and doesn’t like chauvinist men in general.

Macie thinks Operation Cinderella will be a breeze as it’s her way of getting her own back on a man who has done her wrong, but she gets more than she bargained for with Ross, and having to answer difficult questions isn’t something she expected with him or his friends.

Best bits: Macie starting out Operation Cinderella and pretending to be Martha Jane Gray to get back at him. Ross’s Rants, yeah the things that get him into bother with certain women, Macie’s letter to Ross as Martha for becoming his housekeeper,

Last comments on the novel: The cover image is a little less original than it could have been. It is romantic, but at the same time run of the mill.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Operation Cinderella

Review: Beauty is the Beast (Woodcutters Grim Series, Book 7) by Karen Wiesner

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

This novel serves as the last in the four book mini series of Woodcutters Grim which has the curse on the Shaussegeny family as the main arc of the story.

As the others are roughly based on popular fairy tales, this one deals with Beauty and the Beast. Here Ransom Shaussegeny decides once and for all to try and get rid of the curse on their family forever, but it will be a tricky task, and one which has its pitfalls. One of them is that Ransom is cursed with becoming a werewolf when the full moon rises in the heavens and life as a ravening beast isn’t the best he can hope for.

Shaussegeny finds himself amazed that he might believe that a kiss from a woman might save him from the curses grip, but even he thinks it is nothing but fairy tale nonsense – until he has the chance to have the one woman who could be his own.

Beauty is the Beast follows a similar story to the original fairy tale as a man who intends to take a rose for his daughter has to make a deal with Ransom so he can have his daughter when the time is right.

From the first few pages there is a nod to Glynnis Shaussegeny and her new husband which formed the sixth in the Woodcutter Grim series of novels previously. Beauty comes in the form of Tess, the old man’s unfortunate daughter, who turns up at the Shaussegeny family house. Ever since the old man had come to his house wanting the rose he had cultivated, he had never imagined that Tess would come, but he finds out his father didn’t have to send her to him-she came of her own free will, and being a lover of plants and flowers, she couldn’t stay away as she has a great fondness for all flora and fauna of every kind and she is fascinated by them as she ends up being fascinated by him.

Unlike the Beast in the fairy tale who wanted a woman through his own selfishness, and didn’t think that it would lift the curse, Ransom is well aware that she could be the one to lift the curse from his family if she is a willing woman.

As in this excerpt he feels he might be asking a lot of her to tolerate:

“A monster, that’s what I am. She’ll never know who and what I really am. I can’t allow her to see me that way. I have to trust in science. The new formula I’ve created has to be the one. It’s shown more promise than anything else has before. Under the full moon at the end of this month, I’ll inject it and, if it works, everything will change. Tess and I will be free to fall in love without the curse hanging over us.”

Even though this is a novel where the characters have their problems, everything can be worked out for the better, and it ends up being an interesting and compelling retelling of a popular fairy tale.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Woodcutter’s Grim Series – Classic Tales Of Horror Retold

Review: One Night of Eternity (Woodcutter’s Grim Series, Book 6) by Karen Wiesner

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

Karen Wiesner has been very busy of late with her new and intriguing novels which are based on certain old fairy tales and nursery rhymes. She has of course, rewritten them for a more modern audience, and a more erotic one too. This novel is the third in a miniseries of four books which are all titled The Woodcutters Grim Series. This one is based on The House That Jack Built. The original rhyme actually goes right back to much older times, possibly the sixteenth-century or further back, yet this one has a much more sensual tone to it.

The general premise is that the Shaussegeny family have the misfortune to have a curse put on them, and it is one that has a detrimental effect on the family itself as it changes the victims into beasts when there is a full moon. Everyone who knows they will loathe and hate them and their family name as they will be synonymous with death and destruction. And as if this wasn’t enough to make them depressed, each of the victims of the curse has a soul mate who can help ease the pain of their existence, yet if they cheat on these women, a fate far worse than anything they have ever encountered will befall them.

Gavin Shaussegeny encountered his soul mate, and married her thinking that he would be happy, though it wasn’t long before he found solace in the arms of another. Gavin cheating on his wife is the one thing he shouldn’t do as it breaks the law of the mate covenant. Anyone who does this will suffer hurt and pain as no man has ever felt it, and the shame that they have let their family down with what they have done.

As they know the curse could also be their only salvation, but only if they are faithful to their chosen mates. As the Shaussegeny family have long been considered unfaithful to their men and women, this will be a hard habit to break for the family. Karen has the reader really getting into the minds of the characters, and finding out what makes them tick, but also what can make them tolerant of others. She normally likes putting tragic characters together where the both of them can find peace of mind with each other and sort out their life problems, but in this one in the series, it is less about self harm or self punishment, and more of what others have done to them, for example, the curse on their family. It is interesting to see how these two characters will work out their differences and become one. (that is if it happens.)

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Woodcutter’s Grim Series – Classic Tales Of Horror Retold

Review: Bewitched (Woodcutters Grim Series, Book 5) by Karen Wiesner

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

Set in the town of Woodcutters Grim, the place concerns all the strange happenings that have happened there for many years, and how they have managed to keep the unusual monsters that reside there at bay for so long, and continue to do so. These are the guardians who have sworn and oath to protect them from the evil that lurks around every corner, and wants to destroy wherever it goes. These evils lurk in the woods, and lay in wait for any children who decide to be foolish enough to take a walk there.

Bewitched Book 5 of the Woodcutters Grim Series is based around the curse that has been put on the Shaussegeny family thirty years ago, and how the family have coped with it. The curse itself transforms each of the family into beasts at the full moon, namely werewolves and the idea of fate and hatred coming upon them for what they are is all in this book. Also as part of the curse, the one who cursed their family only allows each cursed member one soul mate, and as long as they are faithful to them, they will remain lovers forever more, if not, some evil fate will befall them soon.

As are most in the Woodcutters Grim series of novels, they are based on fairy tales, this one is loosely based on The Little Mermaid, and as in the title, young Glynnis Shaussegeny is bewitched by one man who lives nearby, and comes to see her. She wonders why he would take any interest in her until she realizes she has a dark personality, and thinks he might top it with his own stories of what he has done in the past. Aric Sayer is his name, and he is as interested in her and curious of why she comes to the black lake as she is of who lives outside the village.

Readers will like what Karen Wiesner has made Glynnis into, as it fits into the whole fantasy/fairy tale story idea nicely. It is the story of two people who have been apart all their lives but who need to be together, and Aric doesn’t know who that one woman is until he meets her purely by chance one day. It is then he feels that she has been the one who can fill his heart with love – she is the one part of him that can make him whole again. So far he has been living alone and has felt so empty.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Woodcutter’s Grim Series – Classic Tales Of Horror Retold

Review: The Goblin King (Shadowlands Series, Book 1) by Shona Husk

Reviewed by Sharon S.

Now, when I first saw this title I thought “Goblin, really?” but I liked the blurb. Boy, am I glad I took a chance! This was an original and dark fairy tale. And yes, a Goblin King can be sexy <G>. More on him later…

This is a paranormal romance, but Husk took the old tried and true PNR plot formula and chucked it out the window. You still have your tortured alpha male and your strong human female, but there is more to the story than a lover’s tale and the characters don’t behave in the predictable PNR fashion. There are secondary characters, like Eliza’s controlling fiancé Steve and Roan’s brother Dai that are as well developed as our hero and heroine. We even get their POV in the story. She also meshes a fairy tale like feel with the elements of a smexy PNR giving the story a wonderfully dark and desperate feel. If I had to choose I would say it could be compared to Beauty and the Beast.

I don’t know much about Goblin myths, but Husk took these and combined them with a magic twist to create a savage and unique world where Roan and his men live called the Shadowlands.

Roan, The Goblin King, is a delicious hero. He is fighting to keep his humanity for the sake of his men, even though he wants to give in. He is always putting others needs before his, even Eliza’s who he desperately wants. Even his appearance is a break from the normal PNR hero. What I wouldn’t give to hear those beads in his hair chime <G>. You will have to read the book to see what I mean ;) I don’t want to give anything away about the book so I won’t go into plot, but if you have been looking for something a little different in the PNR genre then give this one a try.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Goblin King, The Goblin King (UK)

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Review: Healing Luke by Beth Cornelison

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Healing Luke is a modern day retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. It’s quick and lighthearted with a few gems revealed towards the end on love and relationships.

Luke Morgan was on a boat when it blew up leaving him with burns, one eye, and no thumb on one hand. He feels his life is ruined forever and is scarred to go to his occupational therapist for fear of failing. Angry and bitter, Luke is sinking fast and his brother and dad have no idea how to help him cope.

Abby Stanford is visiting Florida on what should have been her honeymoon. She’s doing all the trips and outings they had planned, including snorkeling alone. She meets Luke and is surprised and hurt by his antagonism. An occupational therapist herself, albeit with a different focus than what Luke needs, Abby longs to be useful and to help.

Luke watches his brother Aaron flirt with Abby and jealousy rears its ugly head. He wants Abby for himself but is no longer confident of his appeal to women and to one woman in particular.

I loved the workings of the Morgan family: Luke, withdrawn and wounded; Aaron, flirtatious and outgoing; Bart, quiet and unassuming. Abby was such a great fit with them and I really enjoyed seeing that in a romance.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Buy: Healing Luke

Movie Review: Red Riding Hood starring Gary Oldman, Julie Christie and Virginia Madsen

by Sandra Scholes, guest reviewer

Remember the fairy tale? We all do, this movie is loosely based on it, and starts with two friends Valerie and Peter in the depths of a forest. They find a rabbit thinking it will feed them well over the winter months; but neither of them can kill it. Ten years later, the two of them have grown up, and Valerie is unhappy about the prospect of being married off to Henry, some rich kid she doesn’t know. The problem is, she has already fallen deeply in love with the boy she knew from years ago, Peter, and her feelings as well as his have never changed. Her parents aren’t too fond of her relationship with Peter, though, as he is only a poor woodcutter’s son, and in their eyes not a good match. Henry, her husband to be holds no interest for her as she feels as though she is being forced into wedlock with a complete stranger.

Back at the village there is a wolf on the prowl which has killed already, and the villagers have been plagued by its presence for years with no way of ridding themselves of its influence. Their first mistake was to think it was an ordinary wolf, but they soon find out from the local wolf finder general that it is actually a werewolf, one who is human until the full moon looms over them, and then it changes into a huge, ravening beast. The villagers are fools thinking that after a wolf hunt around their general area, they have found it, the source of their problems, and brought its head back on a spike as a warning to other would be wolves out there. What they don’t know is that the real werewolf is still out there, and wanting blood.

So…the real question is who is the werewolf?

On first looking, you expect it to be a retelling of the old fairy tale, but this film is certainly not for children, and it is not just an old rehash of what we already know. The story starts with a difference, and though the main characters are there, there is a lot more going on in the village than you would think. This is pretty much where the fairy tale ends and the real story starts.

Valerie acts as the red riding hood character, who lives with her mother and grandmother. Her father is in the shadows where he seems to stay throughout the movie acting as though he doesn’t really belong in the village. Viewers will be constantly wondering who the werewolf is, and there are many possibilities to choose from; the wolf hunter general Solomon who comes into the village and tells them what they need to know, even though he is suspicious himself, and owns a nasty set of nails that look like animal talons, Henry and Peter are perfect suspects too, as they are the love interests of Valerie, and she could lose out if either of them are the wolf. The grandmother or the mother could be the wolf too, as it doesn’t seem to specify a gender, even if the voice of the werewolf is deep and male. You think it could be throwing you a red herring through the entire movie. One other thing that makes the movie much more interesting is after the villagers have been trying to placate the wolf with animal sacrifices, the werewolf under a blood moon is now on the lookout to find a human to bite in order to leave its legacy before it dies, so assume the werewolf is rather old as a human.

The deaths mount up, but you can’t seem to get away from the romance element of this horror story. And who would want to? It is a nice change from the norm, a horror story that just has blood and gore in it. The relationship between Valerie and Peter is a strong one, and in her eyes, no amount of outside interference from her mum and gran, or her father can change how she feels. You kind of get the impression that if she was forced to marry Henry, she would, but she wouldn’t love him in the way she does Peter, and would go and see Peter anyway. Theirs is a love that will never die, even if he turned out to be the wolf.

Red Riding Hood is a movie worth watching, even if it’s just for seeing Gary Oldman in a change of horror role from being Dracula to playing a wolf hunter.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Red Riding Hood, Red Riding Hood (UK)

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