The following review is part of my being in the author’s review team, which ensures that you can read it before the book comes out.
WARNING: This post might, at times, contain curses. I’m not sorry.
“A tale as old as time”, labelled Disney with their Beauty and the Beast cartoon, many years ago. In fact, this is a story which has been told countless times, by countless authors, in many forms and in many books, movies, TV series, and so on. Some are family oriented. NOT THIS ONE! That’s my first warning to any potential reader of K.F. Breene’s A Ruin of Roses.
My second? The one that appears just after the blurb (which I have, as is custom, put below with the book description – the bold and red are mine): “This is a dark and sexy Beauty and the Beast retelling, featuring a strong heroine, a dangerous anti-hero, and a humorous supporting cast. It is a full-length novel and suitable for 18+. This is the beginning of a trilogy and ends on a cliffhanger.“
In other words: I do not want to be held responsible for not warning you beforehand, and readers who don’t take time to read the rather big print and various warnings written by the author in the blurb and before the book even starts should not start giving crap (putting mild words, here) to K.F. Breene for “destroying [the reader’s] favourite fairy tale” or “turning Beauty and the Beast into a sex-fest”. Yes, I’ve heard and seen some pre-reviews of A Ruin of Roses saying poop like this.
In other words: read the warnings. Neither the author nor anyone honestly reviewing the book (of which I am only a tiny drop) are responsible for your being too lazy to check everything beforehand.
Pearl-clutchers, to the left, and please don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
This said: A Ruin of Roses is all sorts of amazing!
What the book is about
A Ruin of Roses
Series: Deliciously Dark Fairy Tales, Book 1
Author: K.F. Breene
Publisher: Hazy Dawn Press, Inc.
Date published: 8 October, 2021
A new dark and spicy romantasy with forbidden romance, gripping action, and a heat that smolders the pages.
I could save him, but he would ruin me.
The creature that stalks the forbidden wood.
The dragon prince.
He has suffered a fate worse than death. We all have. A curse put upon us by the mad king.
We are a kingdom locked in time. Shifters unable to feel our animals. Stuck here by a deal between the late king and a demon who seeks our destruction.
The only one keeping this kingdom alive is Nyfain, the golden prince to a stolen throne. The last dragon shifter.
He’s our hope.
He’s my nightmare.
When he catches me trespassing in the forbidden wood, he doesn’t punish me with death, as he’s entitled.
He takes me, instead. Forces me back to the castle as his prisoner. Seeks to use me.
Apparently, I can save him. I can save the whole forgotten kingdom, locked away by the demon king’s power.
But it would mean taming the monster beneath his skin. It would mean giving myself to him.
It would mean my ruin.
Rainbows and unicorns? Purr-lease! Not there!
Those familiar with Beauty and the Beast are aware that it is, in romance terms, a classic “enemies to lovers” storyline. A Ruin of Roses is no different. There is a well-read and book loving beauty, there is a beast, there is a curse, there is imprisonment, there is budding love, and there are roses – heck, the title says it about the roses, no?
That’s it! Nothing more than that for the blunt lines of similarities. Although there might be some singing somewhere in the book, and some form of dancing, but we’re not in the Disney realm of either, thank the Maker!
In short, don’t think “rainbows and unicorns”, for there are none to be found in Breene’s retelling! In fact, there is violence, there is a lot of sex, there is passion, there is a curse and curses. Finley, the beauty of the story, is no damsel in distress, but rather a strong-willed heroine who is willing to risk it all time and again to save her family and her village from a sickness brought upon their world by a crazy king, and one who doesn’t give two fucks about society’s expectations. She wears trousers, she hunts, she wields bow and dagger like the best of them, and she curses like a sailor, all this while her older brother, Hannon, is the one who took over their mother’s duties after she passed away from the cursed disease. And she talks to some imaginary peanut gallery, which is all sorts of hilarious.
Yet, like every shifter (and human, too, let’s be honest), she does hope to find her true mate down the road. But what good is a shifter who cannot shift, has never shifted? Curse the curse for that! Still, she will continue to research and try everything in her power to find a remedy to the curse-brought sickness, even if this means going into the Forbidden Wood and the shivering birch, thus possibly forcing an encounter with the Beast. After all, she does need the everlass plant, and the Forbidden Wood is the only place for her to gather the leaves essential to the cure.
Hot hot hot!
Enter Nyfain, the Beast who abducts Finley and brings her to the palace, where she sees all sorts of depraved actions, some of which would make the most modest of people shudder and clutch their pearls. Men with men, women with women, men and women with both at once, from the front, from behind, in every position imaginable (or not), costumed or dressed, in various stages of undress, BDSM. There is no stopping the Demon-cursed palace inhabitants!
How is it? Hot and hotter still! However, despite being at times turned on by what she’s witnessed, Finley wants Nyfain’s body rather than those that she sees writhing in the rooms. And who can blame her? He might be covered in scars, but the Beast, when man, is hot as sin, and with a mind rivalling the beauty’s.
Great secondary characters
Finley and Nyfain might be the main characters, but they would be nothing without an array of great secondary characters, starting with Finley’s siblings: Hannon, Sable, and Dash, who make for a great and united family. All of them are at times funny and insightful. Little Sable, for instance, is wise beyond her years and an amazing little kid. All of them bring something to the story, making it both fun and touching.
Then come the castle characters, who really are all sorts of hilarious in their own twisted and cursed way, but also make the reader feel for them for having to live with the palace version of the curse. Hadriel, Nyfain’s butler, is a character I really fell in love with (not that kind of love, folks; he’s gay) and one I can’t help but wish to see thriving under a broken curse (assuming that the curse will be broken at some point).
Letting all the crazy out
What happens when you give free rein to one of the craziest authors that exists?
You got it: lots and lots and lots of crazy!
Am I complaining? Absolutely not! Because if Queen Breene weren’t one of the craziest authors I know, we wouldn’t have A Ruin of Roses, and we wouldn’t have had Demon Days, Vampire Nights (DDVN), either, or Bria, or Daisy, or or or.
Her giving her crazy imagination free rein is the reason A Ruin of Roses and, likely, the next two books, will be all sorts of warped and fun and hot and will include all the smut you ever dreamed of (and likely all the smut you never dreamed of, too).
One book in (I was waiting to finish this review before starting the second part, A Throne of Ruin, so as to not confuse the books and put stuff from the second book into the first book’s review), and I can tell you that it is a bet she’s won in the best way.
However, don’t go give her shit for finding there is too much cussing or too much sex in the book. You’ve been warned many times that it is sexy and smutty and full of all sorts of cussing. For the habitués: think Darkness, but even sexier.
Do I have something negative to say about A Ruin of Roses? An insignificant thing: the chapters are longer than what K.F. Breene has gotten us used to.
Does this mean that I do not recommend it? Hell to the no! The book is awesome! I mean it when I say that my one negative is really insignificant. It won’t change my rating. Yes, the book does end in a cliffhanger, but don’t go berating the author for that, either, because it is in the warning, too! Furthermore, the second book, A Throne of Ruin, comes out on 12 November, so you’ll have only a little over a month to know what happens next.
All in all, everything is número uno, and well deserving of
A sinfully wicked five stars!