My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Length: 247 pages (e-book)
Release date: 31 October 2017
Seventeen-year-old Bryar Rose has a problem. She’s descended from one of the three magical races—shifters, fairies, or witches. That makes her one of the Magicorum, and Magicorum always follow a fairy tale life template. In Bryar’s case, that template should be Sleeping Beauty. “Should” being the key word. Trouble is, Bryar is nowhere near the Sleeping Beauty life template. Not even close. She doesn’t like birds or woodland creatures. She can’t sing. And she certainly can’t stand Prince Philpot, the so-called “His Highness of Hedge Funds” that her aunties want her to marry. Even worse, Bryar finds herself attracted to a hottie werewolf named Knox and is under attack by evil mummy-zombies. If Bryar can’t figure out who—or what—she really is, it might cost both her and Knox their lives… as well as jeopardize the very nature of magic itself.
Aaaaaaand…we’ve got a winner here, folks! I think I’ve just discovered my favourite paranormal romance. Ever. This is PNR as written by Julie James or Janet Evanovich, as a more coherent review than mine has pointed out. Say buh-bye to Twilight and The Mortal Instruments, because you’re in for a treat with Christina Bauer’s new series. For me, it was like expecting knock-off Gucci and then being hit in the face with the real deal.
You’ve got Bryar Rose, Sleeping Beauty who’s raised by three fairy aunties and destined to fall in love with her Prince by her eighteenth birthday–NOT! She’s half Rachel Elizabeth Dare, half Spiderman: Homecoming’s Michelle, and all-round awesome. I really can’t stress how refreshing Bryar Rose is. It’s like there’s an inverse relationship between complexity of characters’ names and how interesting they are, because whoever named her obviously put zero effort into making Bry’s name clear the threshold between “this name is actual eye gore” and “just barely acceptable if I squint.” You know that feeling when you want to gouge out the romance heroine’s eyes because she’s so godawfully stupid? Well breathe a sigh of relief, because Bry only goes full retard like, once. And she realises immediately afterwards how dumb she was. Plus, the way Bry confronts the crazy killer zombies who inevitably come after her hide? *Hnng.* If only every novel could grow them that strong.
There’s Knox, the werewolf in Bry’s dreams and Projected Love Interest©, who is (thank heaven) the exact opposite of her stuffy fake-boyfriend Philpot. You can do a lot worse when it comes to love interests, I guess. Honestly, I’m quite tired with commenting on every relationship in every YA book these days. They get pretty tedious and cookie-cutter after a while. If I wanted to read the sexy scenes I’d go find a romance novel. So, moving on…there’s Alec, smarmy trust fund wizard who becomes a friend without benefits to Bry’s BFF. Bry’s BFF is the equally awesome Elle, who’s also a brilliant hacker/jewel thief/scammer/fashion-forward wingman. Together, the two of them are bestie goals. Doesn’t get much better than a girl who could con her way out of the eighth circle of hell watching your back.
Oh, did I say that Bry’s a failed Sleeping Beauty, and Knox is a hot werewolf, and Alec is a trust fund wizard and Elle’s Lisbeth Salander? Just kidding! There are a tonne of wacky revelations in this book, a good deal of which are of the secret identities variety. They range from the “ha! I saw that coming!” to the complete and utter “huuuuuuh? What did I just read?” Whichever one we’re dealing with, I love it. I love the twists. They spice up a story that could otherwise have gone very clichéd very fast. Bauer seems to have taken the criticism of her former series that those books were way too long, and I have to admit that with its perfect length and snappy chapters, Wolves and Roses is more tightly plotted than I foolishly assumed any PNR had the right to be.
The book does leave a few major questions up in the air for the sequel to answer, but I’m fine with that. This one ended on a well-deserved high note. Besides, holding back material just means that there’ll be even more fun twists for the next book.
*Thank you to Monster House Books and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book! All opinions represented remain my own.*