Book Review – A Ruin of Roses by KF Breene

Still from Disney’s Animated Beauty and the Beast

Do I really have to tell you guys how much I love beauty and the beast? Like every single version of it. All the time. Beauty and the Beast is amazing to me. Like almost every girl I know, it was the library for me.

Anyway, so when I ran across A Ruin of Roses and heard that it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast…but with dragons. You guys, I jumped over to Amazon and downloaded it onto my Kindle app really quick. I had to finish a couple of other stories before I could read it, but I was so excited. (And now that I’m done, I’ve downloaded the second one and you guys, can I just tell you how excited I am?) So, without further ado, let’s get into it shall we?

A Ruin of Roses by K.F. Breene cover

So like in the version of Beauty and the Beast that we all know and love, this story has a tragic sort of backstory, this one makes about as much sense as the one in the movie too. So, the kingdom is split into different parts based on the type of shifter that you are. Though by the time we get to the story, no one has that ability anymore and the entire kingdom is closed off and we’ll get to why in a second. So the Prince of the Dragon Shifter portion of the kingdom is rumored to have been married off to someone in one of the neighboring kingdom, and has been gone for years. The Queen died a long time ago, and the King makes a deal with the Demon King and a curse falls over the kingdom. The castle is surrounded by a creepy forest, you can’t travel out of town anymore, it’s all a big mess.

Fast forward a decade or so and we catch up with Finley who is attempting to take care of her family after her mother gets sick and dies and her father is now sick. So, she’s a bit busy. Part of what is causing everyone to get sick is a side effect of this curse that’s been handed down by the Demon King. The only thing that helps them is a drink made from the leaves from a very specific plant that is only found in the forest. (Of course it is….) So Finley sneaks into the woods, past the briars and heedless of the beasts that roam the forest at night and have already killed more than one villager.

She is successful the first time she goes into the woods, but the next time she goes back, after an interaction with our Gaston type character, and she actually gets caught, and it isn’t pretty. It’s the “Beast” that catches her and after an interaction he drags her back to the castle to be his prisoner and we walk into a whole world of crazy. Seriously, I cannot even tell how much I wasn’t prepared for what happens.

NOT FOR PEARL CLUTCHERS. Look, if you don’t like a lot of raunchy sex (for seemingly no reason), though this is a series and it did set the stage for some interesting developments. It’s an enemies to lovers, raunchy, story that is good. I loved it, I did.

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

What genre is this book?
This book, while a re-telling of a fairy tale, is labeled as the following genres: Fantasy Fiction, Erotic literature, Romantic fantasy, Paranormal fiction.

Did you race to the end or did it take you a little while?
I really wanted to race through this book, but I had to put it down quite a bit. The writing style was a little off my taste but I was able to put it aside and make it work. The story is good, if you can get past the readability of it. That was the biggest challenge I had, which happens sometimes.

Are there lingering questions from the book you’re still thinking about?
It ends on a cliffhanger, so I have some questions about that. Meaning that I’ll probably read the next one just to figure out what happens next. That’s usually why I keep reading something, unanswered questions, and if the storytelling is good. I’m a sucker for a good story. I also want to know about the rest of the kingdom, what happened exactly and how did we get to this point?

Which characters did you like best?
I actually rather like Nyfain. And Finley’s older brother, Hannon. I felt he had a firm grip on their reality and was doing the best he could do since he was in charge of their family now that their father was sick. Nyfain was a great representation of the beast. He’s got a lot of layers and he truly seemed to care for Finley. I’m interested to see what happens next.

Did the plot proceed in a way that felt natural? Or did you feel manipulated by the storyline?
I felt like I knew where it was going, at least on some level because it was a re-telling. However, I was always relatively surprised when something new happened. I thought there were places where the storyline seemed a little contrived and that there were movements where things seemed gratuitous. They didn’t need to be there and the story would have been the same, and yet, they were there anyway, maybe for shock value, who knows?

Would you fall for either of the leads?
Honestly, no. I don’t think that I would. Which is weird for a romance novel. I mean, I want to see them together, and I want them to be able to fix the kingdom, no matter what it costs, but I personally wouldn’t be attracted to either of them. Now, Finley’s brother Hannon, a man who stands up and takes responsibility for his family no matter the personal cost, that’s a guy I could fall for. Maybe because I’m older, I don’t know.

If it’s part of a series, did this book compel you to read the next one?
I do want to read the next one. I want to know what happens to Nyfain. I want to know what Finley is going to do to help. I want to know how they’re going to fix the kingdom, which I said already I know, but I need to know what happened. Contrived as some of this book may be, I will most likely finish the series because I want to know what happened. The cliffhanger at the end serves it’s purpose perfectly. It’s not exactly a happy for now end, and certainly not a happily ever after ending, but I need to know what’s going on.

Did you like the heat level of this book?
Though at times unnecessary, I did actually enjoy the heat level of this one. But it was more the connection between Nyfain and Finley. The growing heat between them as they progress, was fantastic. I enjoyed it.

Was the couple’s connection believable?
I think so. It’s clear that there is something there, on a soul level that they’re both drawn to, but I like that they don’t just give in to it and allow it to dictate their actions. Instead the relationship between Finley and Nyfain grows because they want it to, not because of whatever cosmic connection they have. In fact Finley actively tries to avoid it. I love that aspect of their relationship.

Did the book strike you as original?
I think that knowing it was a re-telling of something else before you read it, you’d be likely to think it wouldn’t be original. Despite the mixed reviews of the way it was written, or what you think of the amount of sex and the language used, the concept for this story is amazing. It’s an original idea that follows the framework for a tale as old as time. And I loved the idea of that concept before I even read it. It’s easy to forget it’s a retelling of a favorite story if you let yourself get lost in it.

A Ruin of Roses Aesthetic

Rating

Four Stars

I gave this story four stars. I liked the story, I was able to overlook the writing style, which again is just a personal thing. I did like this story a lot more than it probably sounds like I did. That said, dealing with the writing style, the parts that just seemed unnecessary, caused me to rate it below a five. (I’ve never said this, but if anything ever gets a 3.5 or lower, I just won’t review it here. As a writer, I know how much negative reviews can kill the motivation and muse, so I won’t review anything lower than a 3.5)

Four Flames

This book got a four on the heat level again, simply because I feel like the use of smut or scenes that depict intimate relationships should be done so with a mind to the needs of the story. I have written everything from closed door/fade to black to incredibly detailed erotica. I use whichever would be best for the story at the time. I think that on certain occasions, this heat didn’t fit what the story needed. Again though, the heat was good so I didn’t knock it down any farther than four flames.

So, that’s all for today’s review. If you like this kind of story, go read it. You’ll either love it or hate it, but you won’t forget it. I’m out for now. As always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have an amazing adventure!

Bye Bye Butterfly

My Summer Reading List – Summer 2022

Amber Marie’s Summer Reading List Graphic

This summer I am going to read a lot of books. My goal is 12, but I’m sure there will be more! Between the Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox there are exactly 12 weeks. My current TBR list…it’s over fifty books long. So there are a lot of choices. In the past I’ve decided what order I was going to read in, not this time. Several of these books don’t even come out at different points in the summer. Some of them are already out, or came out recently. I’m excited about it. So without further ado, here’s the list. Read with me if you want. Or feel free to suggest more books that you think I should read.

Amber Marie’s 2k22 Summer Reading List
(In order of publication date)

Temptation by Ivy Smoak – published April 8, 2015
Suddenly Dirty by JA Law – published April 1, 2016
Mr. Perfect by JA Huss – published April 27, 2016
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – published August 2, 2016
Firefighter Griffin by Zoe Chant – published December 3, 2016

Greed by Lana Pecherczyk – published July 8, 2019
Bad Prince by Lilian Monroe – published October 1, 2019
The Longing of Lone Wolves by Lana Pecherczyk – published June 8, 2020
Curvy Girls Can’t Date Quarterbacks by Kelsie Stelting – published July 31, 2020
Promises and Pomegranates by Sav R. Miller – published August 10, 2021

Reborn by Anne K. Whelan & Liz Cain – published August 13, 2021
Hooked by Emily McIntyre – published September 7, 2021
A Throne of Ruin by K.F. Breene – published November 12, 2021
Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score – published January 13, 2022
Shattered Altar by Nicole Fox – published April 28, 2022

The Wild Side by Cassie-Ann L. Miller – published May 12, 2022
Filthy Rich Vampire by Genova Lee Albin – published May 24, 2022
Phoebe by Minerva Spencer – published May 31, 2022
A Frankness of Character by Pemberly Darcy and A. Lady – published June 3, 2022
Filthy by Tia Louise – published June 9, 2022

Hell Gate by Veronica Eden – published June 9, 2022
Rowan by Robin D. Mahle – published June 9, 2022
Alpha’s Redemption by Skye Wilson – published June 13, 2022
An Unpleasant Sort of Man by Michelle D’Arcy – published June 14, 2022
Blind Side by Kandi Steiner – published June 15, 2022

(These titles not yet published)
On Thin Ice by Kat Obie – published June 23, 2022
Not a Vampire by Auryn Hadley – June 24, 2022
Tangle of Dragons by Jane Darkspire – published June 27, 2022
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston – published June 28, 2022
Yellow by N.M. Burns – published June 29, 2022

Click the Bell to Subscribe by N. M. Burns – published June 29, 2022
Captured by Billionaires by Drusilla Swan – published June 30, 2022
The Phoenix Prophecy: Nova by Cara Clare – published July 1, 2022
Deucalion Academy: Pawn of the Gods by Ruby Vincent – published July 2, 2022
Audrey by Elle Lincoln – published July 5, 2022

The Sedition of Sophie Covey by Tana Rose – published July 5, 2022
Blood and Vows by K. Easton & Amanda Richardson – published July 7, 2022
Amp by Sybur Phyre – published July 11, 2022
Noire by Anna Fury – published July 12, 2022
Demons So Dark by Alessa Allure – published July 22, 2022

Midnight Sin by Morgan Elliott – published July 26, 2022
Silenced by Jayce Carter – published July 26, 2022
A Vampire in Rosings Park by Penelope Talbot & A. Lady – published July 30, 2022
Invoking the Blood by Kalista Neith – published August 2, 2022
A History of Vampires: A New Queen by Amanda Lewis – August 8, 2022

Ruthless by Gena Showalter – published August 9, 2022
Consort by Ada Dart – published August 14, 2022
Dawn of the Dark Ice by Grady P. Brown -published August 21, 2022
Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck – published August 23, 2022
Numinous by Victoria Woods – published August 23, 2022

Sanctuary by Holly Hanzo – published August 26, 2022
Pack of Lies by Charlie Adhara – published August 30, 2022
Wolf Found by Kaylin Peyerk – published August 31, 2022
Vamps: Fresh Blood by Nicole Arend – published September 1, 2022
The Siren and the Water Witch by Cameron Allie – September 16, 2022
Fated to be King by Skye Alder – published September 16, 2022

That’s the list. I hope you enjoy it. If you decide to read along with me, let me know which ones you pick and what you think of it! You never know, I could just invite you to help out with a Book Review for Complicated Houseplants! Well, that’s it for now my loves, as always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have a wonderful adventure!

Bye Bye Butterfly

Book Review – The Spark by Vi Keeland

So I read The Spark by Vi Keeland, and as you know, Vi Keeland is one of my new favorite authors. This book was awesome. I loved the Male Main Character, Donovan, he’s dreamy and the perfect guy, as far as I’m concerned. So read on and get to know not only Donovan but Autumn as well.

The Spark by Vi Keeland (2021)

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

Donovan Decker is a lawyer with a complicated past. He accidentally swaps luggage with Autumn Wilde and when they go to switch it back, they end up spending the weekend together. Though they don’t have sex during these couple of days, it’s quite intense for both of them. When Autumn disappears at the end of the weekend without giving Donovan any clue of how to find her.

The story then skips almost 10 months and Donovan’s boss asks him to take a pro-bono case. Since he’s trying to make partner, he begrudgingly accepts the case. When he gets to the precinct, he’s sitting and waiting for the social worker before he can meet with his underage client. When the social worker arrives, it’s Autumn. He’s excited to see her, but not so excited when he finds out that she’s casually seeing his boss.

Graphic made by @TotalBookAddicts and stolen from Pinterest by me

What was your favorite part of the book?
I really enjoyed Donovan. He’s a good guy and I absolutely loved how much he was willing to not only help Storm, his underage client, but actually put him on the right path with resources and by introducing him to Bud, Donovan’s mentor from when he was Storm’s age.

What was your least favorite part?
I kind of hated the pseudo relationship with Donovan’s boss. The guy was kind of an ass and clearly wanted more than Autumn did out of the relationship. It was irritating.

How does this books title work in relation to the books contents?
I think it’s appropriate to the relationship between Donovan and Autumn and their initial weekend together. There is a spark and though Autumn tries to hide from it, she can’t deny it in the end either.

Which characters did you like best? Which did you like least?
My absolutely favorite character is Donovan. The man had a complicated upbringing that you would think make him hard and a little jaded, but it didn’t. He is the sweetest guy, who fights for what he wants, and not in a bad way. He isn’t afraid of having emotions, and though he sounds like the perfect dude, he has some flaws. I even love the quirk that he steals the smaller travel size products that hotels have in their rooms, even though he’s a successful lawyer and doesn’t need them. It’s a throw back to his childhood that he just can’t quite shake.
My least favorite character is Autumn’s ex-boyfriend. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this character, but I got bad vibes from them immediately. There are notes in the margins of my book that detail that I’m having some issues with this character.

What are your thoughts on the books structure? Did it serve the book well?
The book is set up in dual POV, changing with the chapters, though it isn’t always a consistent back and forth. There are sixteen (16) chapters from Autumn’s perspective versus the nineteen (19) from Donovan’s. This structure works great for the story that’s being told. Each chapter is told from first person, which works great to get the emotion of this story, which really makes it.

Are there any character you’d like to deliver a lecture to? If so, who? What would you say?
Autumn’s father. How dare he. How dare he not have his daughter’s back in favor of other people? There’s more I’d want to say to him, but that will be spoilers and I don’t want to do that.
Also Donovan, control your temper darling. While that was heroic, it wasn’t the smartest move. Though I love you for it.

Did you like the heat level of this book?
I did actually. It was steamy for the little bits that we got. I absolutely loved it. Very hot. Especially when read by a fire.

Was the couple’s connection believable?
Look, I believed that they instantly hit it off. I also believe that Autumn is a fool to walk off without a word. Though I get it, I do, but girl. Get it together. You can’t be afraid of the possibility of love forever. Come on. I believe that Donovan is head over heels for the girl that got away, and that once they reconnect, he’s driven by the what could be. The more he finds out about her, the deeper he falls. Autumn, girl. Get it together, he’s amazing.

Would you ever fall for either of the leads?
If you haven’t figured it out yet, yes. I would love a guy like Donovan. He’s amazing for a thousand reasons. And hot dude. Like….my single self would say yes in a moment. For sure.

What is your favorite quote from the book?
“Do you think a kiss can be better than sex?” – Donovan Decker.

Aesthetic Picture from Pinterest for “The Spark” by Vi Keeland


I really liked this book. Steph read it with me, but she never got a chance to finish it, because life. I loved this book. It was easy to read and a fun little romance. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s a good read for by the pool or for late nights or whatever. It’s good and worth it, at least to me.

Star Rating: 4 stars

I gave this book four stars. I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but some of it seemed to drag. Though Donovan was a great character with a great backstory, he deserved a little better. Autumn still had a lot of stuff to work through with her therapist, and maybe should have been doing a little more to work on herself instead of hiding in relationships that would never go anywhere. It’s a self-protection thing, which I get, but girl. Do better.

Heat Rating: 4 Flames

The heat level is only a 4 as well. There weren’t a lot of graphic scenes, since Autumn spends most of the book dating Donovan’s boss. But dude. That kiss at the party….ooo….I had to fan myself. It was hot. Every time they do have a moment like that, it’s just as steamy. It deserves this rating. If there had been more, it would have gotten more, but what was there, worked for the story.

Aesthetic Picture for The Spark by Vi Keeland stolen from Pinterest.

Well, that’s all we have for today. Check out The Spark by Vi Keeland and tune in next week for another book review from the Book Club for Complicated House Plants. <3.

As always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have amazing adventures!

Bye Bye Butterfly!

Book Review – The Summer Proposal

Hello lovlies! How are you this wonderful Thursday? I’m starting a new thing and so every Thursday you’ll get a book review from me. I used to do them all of the time on the old blog, but now I think I’ll do them here. You guys should see what I’m reading and recommending, or not recommending for that matter. This week, we’re talking about The Summer Proposal by Vi Keeland.

*SPOILER ALERT*
There are potential spoilers ahead, ye be warned!

The Summer Proposal
by Vi Keeland

You guys have seen those Ads on Facebook and other places like that about books right? Well, that’s what happened to me. I saw this ad, and the story sounded interesting so I followed the link to Amazon and downloaded a preview of the book to my Kindle app. I read the first three chapters and then immediately ordered two copies, one for me and one for my cousin Steph who loves reading as much as I do. This book had everything we enjoyed; a romantic plot, hockey, some spice, and I learned in the first three chapters that the writer was funny. There were so many times while I was reading that I laughed out loud, scaring whoever was around me.

So I took this book to Stephanie, and together we read it. It was a pretty quick read, only 330 pages, but oh did those pages have me hooked! I read through it so quickly that it only took a couple of hours while I was at my cousins, and then a Friday night by myself in my apartment. We got together and asked ourselves ten questions about this, book club style, and here are the answers to those.

Q: What was your least favorite part of the book?

Steph: I was a little disappointed that no one attended the funeral, but seeing as how it was a side character, I’m not surprised.
Amber: I was too, I felt like there should have been some mention of Max attending if he did. It seemed to me like he just skipped it. Rude if they were actually friends.

Q: What was your favorite part of the book?

S: The staycation and the end.
A: I think my favorite was that he never belittled her work and tried so hard to support it. I liked medicine when she was sick.

Q3: Which character did you relate to, or empathize with, the most?

S: Georgia because I’m an anxious creature like she is and I overthink everything so I can relate to how she feels during most of the book.
A: Maggie. I want to be her when I grow up. She was a fabulous friend and I absolutely adored her personality.

Q4: Did you like the “heat” level of this book?

S: Absolutely! It was steamy steamy! I was certainly effected.
A: Yes, I felt it was a good mix of spice and story. The spice was definitely well written.

Q5: Was the couple’s connection believable? If so, at what point did they click for you?

S: Yes, I felt like they were meant to be as soon as Max walked in and pretended to be her blind date.
A: Same, I felt like the moment he gave her the Yoda to hold on to it was a done deal. They were adorable. Especially when she showed up at the Garden.
S: Do you think he left it there on purpose?
A: Oh yeah he totally did. He was hoping she’d return it.
S: Yeah. It was a ploy to see her again.

Q6: What do you think happens to the leads after the ending?

S: They both continue to be extremely successful and have a couple of babies.
A: Adorably dimpled hockey playing babies.

Q7: What do you think of the romance’s pacing?

S: Vi had me hanging on the edge of my seat the whole time waiting to see what would happen next. I loved it.
A: I felt the pacing was good. It definitely lent to it being unputdownable and a quick read. I HAD to know what was going to happen next.

Q8: Would you fall for either of the leads?

S: Oh most definitely. Max is a hockey player, with dimples. I love hockey players, and dimples.
A: Max is on my book boyfriend list. I’d date him. He’s sweet and amazing and loyal.

Q9: Did this book melt your heart? Make you believe in love again?

S: Absolutely. It was a testing time for me.
A: Of course. It made me feel my single status so much more! I want a nice man who’s good in bed, ha ha.

Q10: Did the plot proceed in a way that felt natural? Or did you feel manipulated by the storyline?

S: I think the plot line proceeded perfectly. I liked the way it flowed and it seemed real to me.
A: I think it was perfect. At first I was a little confused as to the purpose of the flashback chapters, but that became clear as I read. They were misleading though, so that was a fun twist in a predictable “I know they’re gonna fall in love no matter what they say to the contrary” type plot.

Final Ratings:

We give this book five stars. We bought two more books by the same author that we can’t wait to read, so definite five stars.

We give this book four flames. It was steamy and really good, but it wasn’t overly abundant. We were satisfied by what was there, but Gabriel the jerk blocked more of what could have been.

In summary, if you like hockey, or romance, or just good spicy scenes, we highly recommend this book. It’s hilarious and a great read. Check it out. Until next time my loves.