Thursday, February 18, 2016

ARC REVIEW Once Upon a Regency Fairy Tales and Fables anthology

Once upon a time nine historical romance authors created a fairy tale inspired Regency world… 

This is a great anthology it is all retold fairy tales and fables that take place in, well duh, the Regency era. I loved reading it, it was fun trying to figure out which one it was some were very obvious and others no so much. All these authors are extremely talented and great at storytelling. The novellas range  from sweet to steamy.

Resisting Romeo by Samantha Grace :  This is the only one I really can't pinpoint a fairy tale or a fable to, The obvious Romeo and Juliet, but I see this more of a Taming of the Shrew in the Kiss Me Kate style. I loved it this is one of my favorites in this batch. I love the theatre, and sometimes I miss being on the stage myself, then I remember I'm not that good an actress and pop that dream bubble.  
Claudine Bellarose is an actress, she is an aspiring playwright and the former mistress of an abusive man. Claudine is on the verge of performing her breakout play when the manager gets a letter stating the building is going to be sold and they all have to leave. Russell Hawke is the owner of the theatre, it was left to him by his father. Russell love the theatre but in order to save the family coffers he must sell but one look at the place and it's beautiful headstrong lead  actress and Russell makes a deal if they are successful in performing Claudine's play they can stay. Sabotage and mischief, things keep happening at the theatre (you think they were performing MacBeth) Russell winds up acting in the play too and with Claudine's guidance he becomes a halfway decent actor. 
The misshapes lead to more serious problems and there are secrets hidden in the theatre, all come unveiled and  lead to one very happy HEA.       

Enchanted by the Earl by Amanda Mariel : Admittedly this one took me a while to guess, it wasn't until the end that it became blindingly obvious what it was and I am ashamed it took me that long to figure out. I liked this one, it is a sweet romance and a unique way of telling Little Red Ridding Hood.
Rose is a seamstress, who lives with her grandmother. Hunter Thorne is the Earl of Aubry who by chance meets ose when escorting his sister to her house for a fitting. Mr. Dewitt Wolfe is former family friend that was suppose to be betrothed to Rose, before she broke the contract and now he will stop at nothing to make her his wife. (See why I'm ashamed that I missed the obvious connection...  Hunter, Wolfe, Grandma!) Hunter stubborn oblivious male is determined to help Rose, but he doesn't know why. Rose is determined to save herself but when Wolfe threatens to take away her home she reluctantly accepts Hunter's help.
This was a good adventure romance, I loved the characters especially the secondary characters Lady Julia and Garret Tumbly, Viscount Sinclair.   

Wish Upon a Kiss by Meara Platt : This one is one of the obvious ones, she has three godmothers who raised her and her middle name is Aurora. This is a good retelling of Sleeping Beauty, I love what Meara Platt did with the story and how she changed it up to fit in the Regency era. The "Prince" very sexy mysterious Alpha male, viking.
Lady Winifred Kingsley was rushing off to the opening of the May Fair when she quite literally ran into the man of her dreams. Lucky she did because then she was attacked by a pack of mad dogs, if he hadn't of been there she surely would have died. She ran off after it was safe and made in time for the opening MayFair dance around the pole. But when Winnie tried to convince everyone about the dogs no one believed her. She didn't believe her prince when he introduced himself as Captain Ardaric Mariner but she gladly accepted his escort on her journey home good thing too. Ardaric was convinced someone was out to kill her and kept her inside while the wild dogs ran rampant outside. Soon after getting home she fell sick and fell asleep. It was love at first sight for Ardaric Sinclar fourth Duke of Blantyre, there was something different about Winnie that separated her from all the debutantes' he ever meet and the fact that she was in danger brought out every protective bone in his body.
The secrets of the wild dogs tie directly to Winnie and her past. This was a great retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales. 

A Duke Worth His Salt by Allison Merritt : I'm guessing at this one, it wasn't half bad but one part of it really confused me, I'll get to that, this is a Cinderella story. I liked the story and the characters but the one thing that confused me kind of messed with my opinion of the story.
Lady Eleanor is the beloved middle daughter, that is until her father suffers a head injury and can no longer recognize her and starts spewing all these horrible things about her. She thinks it would be best if she left while he recovered, her Aunt forbids it but Eleanor's sister helps her escape to the Sussex property their father just inherited from a distant relative. Eleanor to avoid the scandal of her being without a chaperone disguises herself as a shepherdess. The only problem Eleanor faces is her neighbor the Duke of Greenebuck has meet her once before. This is where I got confused; Daniel Goodwin, the Duke, knows Eleanor is there and when he meets "Leah" the shepherdess I thought I knew it was Eleanor in disguise and was just playing along apparently not. It's my fault I read something wrong but it just skewed my view of the book. Eleanor becomes Leah and wants nothing more than to learn everything she can about sheep and return the estate back to it's former glory. But when Eleanor's Aunt comes to fetch her back to London everything changes.
It is a good story and I liked it well enough.      

Masquerading as a Miss by Ari Thatcher : This was another great retelling of one of my favorites, The Little Mermaid. I really like this alter ego of Aileen Fish. I love her sweet romances and this one is just a tad bit naughty and I really liked it. The story flowed beautifully the characters were honorable and passionate.
Both Colin Wentworth and Cassandra Franklin are on a journey to London from Jamaica; Colin is returning and Cassandra is of to live with relatives she never knew she had. But as these things happen they hit a horrible storm and the ship sank, only Cassandra and Colin surviving. It was love at first sight but Colin was too seasick to realize it. Back on dry land Cassandra lost her the only information she had about where and who to see once she got there Colin thankful to her for saving his life promises her he will find her family. Cassandra is scared to let herself love Colin she has no idea who her father is and doesn't want to disappoint his family and title if she isn't worthy of it. Colin finds her family and the truth and nothing is going to stop him from marrying her. Even if it means breaking a contract with his father's partner by refusing to marry his daughter and potentially ruining all business dealings with them.
I like this one it was a good twist on an old classic. There was no definite bad guy just a bad situation

Searching for My Rogue by Dawn Brower : This one threw me for a loop but was really good. One of my all time favorites, so much so I named my daughter after her, Alice in Wonderland. I love Alice in Wonderland and I am usually really picky about people's creative license with the story but this one was different enough with a smig of Yankee in King Arthur's Court that it really made a pleasant story. 
Alys Dewitt was just barely surviving her sister's wedding and tolerating the pompous best man the groom's step brother and Duke of Weston. After the wedding Alys went for a walk  to get some fresh air she accidentally fell over the side of the cliff; when she awoke she was in 1815. James survived the Napoleonic Wars only to come home to a dead brother and a title he never wanted. On his way home he finds a young woman on the beach knocked unconscious. He brings her home and in her half conscious ramblings he assumes she was his brother's betrothed and immediately feels guilty for lusting after her. When Alys wakes up she is stunned but adapts quickly to the situation. James leaves to London almost immediately to obtain a special license so he can marry her and protect her better. Alys in the meantime befriends his sister who confides in her that her brother's death might not have been an accident. Smugglers and spies make an appearance and make the plot intriguing. Alys' skills as a doctor also come in handy.
This is one of my favorites in the anthology.

The Enchanted Cave by Sue London : This one is probably my least favorite. It is a retelling an of Irish fable and while the author did a good job with that the plot was interesting; however I didn't like any of the characters. All the guys were kind of lecherous and creepy and the girls were all backstabbing whores all except Maeve who was a self righteous prude. 
The Enchanted Cave is a fight club where women box other women. Baron Galen Mornay is trying to save his friends from the evil clutches of the women at The Enchanted Cave. He is always pulling his friends out of hot water and he knows they will end up in trouble again if they continue visiting there. Especially the unofficial leader Finn, Lord Cole who is fascinated with the main attraction Maeve O'Malley. The Fighting Irish Sister earned their fame thanks to Maeve but they are all getting tired and just want a man to offer them their protection and to take them on as their mistresses. All except for Maeve who is a good Catholic girl and wants a husband. The attraction between Maeve and Galen is purely physical at first but the more Galen spends with her trying to figure out her motives the more he grows to like her as a woman and appreciates her strengths and resolve and her loyalties. When the owner of The Enchanted Cave gets more desperate for money he pits Maeve against a man fighter. Maeve must fight the man to win her freedom from The Enchanted Cave.
It was a good story I just couldn't like any of the characters. 

Taming Beauty by Lynne Barron : If you couldn't tell by the name this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Leave it to Lynne Barron to turn this into an unexpected story with a beautiful and unique heroine. I'm a big fan of Lynne Barron and always love the heroines that she creates. A woman with a reputation the granddaughter and daughter of infamous courtesans she herself lives a life she wants to lead and an impoverished scared Baron looking to seek revenge.
Lord Dunaway is a horn dog! Not only did he get his own wife pregnant four time three girls, but he also had three other daughters by three different women. Not only that he seduced a young woman away from Baron Malleville, Jasper Grimley. Malleville also known as The Beast of Breckenridge used his fortune to ruin Dunaway, the only way to settle the debt his daughter's hand and thirty thousand pounds with interest, three percent per annum. Dunaway is escorting his sweet and innocent daughter Lady Priscilla Josephine Worcester, Sissy, to her betrothed estate in Cornwall. Along to act as chaperone Miss Lilith Aberdeen, Dunaway's oldest bastard child. Dunaway's plan is for Lilith to seduce Malleville and have him call off the debt and break the contract. But once their Lilith feels an unlikely kinship with with Jasper and falls in love with the man but being who she is she won't let Jasper ruin everything to be with her she is willing to sacrifice her own happiness to see that he gets what he needs. 
I love the twist Lynne put on the story, and it manages to be funny, erotic, and heartwarming all in one.

Stealing a Lady’s Heart by Tammy Andresen : Oh boy this one, this one I have to say is my top favorite out of this collection. Tammy Andersen wrote it in the same style that a lot of the fables are written in. I felt like I was reading a Grimm's Tale or one of the Canterbury Tales. This one is a retelling Grimms The Four Wise Brothers.  The beginning is very succinct it introduces the characters and you get a good feel of their personalities and who they are and the story jumps right in. I loved all the characters even the villain, he was very menacing. 
Charlotte Beaumont was journeying north to visit her best friend and celebrate the birth of her first child. Along the way her father arranged that she stay with just about every eligible bachelor along the way. One such house was Harlington Manor, a house with four sons all with their own talents and trades. Thus starts the grand adventure a kidnapping, a speedy rescue from a tall tower, a chase through enchanted woods, magical battles, and a damsel in distress turned hero. Graham the third son of the house a former soldier turned locksmith fell in love at first sight with the beautiful Charlotte, but being the third son he thought himself not good enough for her. He knew it was his destiny to save her and with his brothers help he did just that. The evil dark sorcerer was hot on their tail and the only way to protect Charlotte was for Graham to marry her. It all ends in an epic magical battle between good and evil.
This was brilliant, I can't say enough how much I loved this one. It was a little cheesy and corny but it just added flavor to the story like the original fables did.         

Overall, This is one not to miss out on. It has some great stories in it.

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