Monday, 9 February 2015

CBR7 3: Once Upon A Rose

Length: 300 pages in the print edition
Time taken: 3 hours

Layla DuBois inherits a house in a valley in the South of France, and goes there to recharge her creative batteries. Unfortunately, the valley already has an owner, Matt Rosier, and he is not happy that "his" property has been stolen. can this beauty tame the beast?

Taking most of its elements from the classic fairytale Beauty and the Beast, OUaR is a well-written and enjoyable spin on a familiar story. The details are vivid and loving rendered - I had a very clear image of the location and could almost smell the air at times - and the writing is engrossing and fast-paced.

Too fast for me. I do not like romances which take place over the course of a couple of weeks. I was far more interested in Matt's cousins than I was in him, and I found Layla the Manic Pixie Dream Girl to be as annoying as I find all Manic Pixie Dream Girls. There were a lot of things in the book which really worked for me - Layla felt like a real musician to me, the creative process was realistic and well-drawn, and I do always like seeing what can be done with fairytale elements. But if it's a choice between this and either of Robin McKinley's excellent retellings, I'll take McKinley any day.

I am very interested in seeing what other tales Florand uses to inspire the rest of the series - Sleeping Beauty will almost certainly be one of them, being also heavily redolent with rose imagery - but I really hope she branches out a little bit further than just the well-known Disney type tales. I think though that Florand made the wrong decision by taking so many elements of Beauty and the Beast. It's not a straight retelling, it's more a variation on a theme, but there's too much in there for me to forget about the original fairytale, and I much prefer the original.

I can see this working much better for readers who aren't me though. I don't regret the purchase, but I'll be careful in who I recommend it to.

3.5 stars: better than average but let me cold.
Cross-posted to Cannonball Read here.

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