Wolves and Roses

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Wolves and Roses hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.

Wolves and Roses was written by Christina Bauer and first published in 2017. It is a paranormal romance story that focuses on a teenage girl who lives in a world where faeries, wizards and shape-shifters are common-place. The novel is the first part of a planned series and its sequel, Shifters and Glyphs, is expected to be released next autumn.

As a member of the Magicorum, Bryar Rose’s life should play out according to a faerie tale template. For her, this is the tale of Sleeping Beauty, however this does not seem to fit her at all. Although she is forced to take medicine to stave off her magical narcolepsy, she doesn’t like woodland creatures and can’t stand the “handsome prince”, Philpot, that her faerie aunts have chosen for her. Instead of normal faerie tale dreams, she instead has vision of Egypt and a mysterious golden jackal. Could it be something to do with her obsession with finding rare papyri, or could it be something more?

Soon, Bryar meets Alec and Knox – a wizard and a shifter – who share her interest in Ancient Egypt. They have been working together to locate the pages of a long-forgotten text and Bryar’s research could hold the missing information that they have been searching for. Unfortunately, Bryar has attracted some unwanted attention. An ancient society have also set their sights on her and have sinister plans for her future.

As Bryar grows closer to Knox, she starts to discover things about herself that she could never have imagined. Her aunts have been hiding the secret of her origins from her ever since she was a baby, and the truth has the power to completely change her life. If Bryar does not discover who she is by the time she turns eighteen, she could lose everything that she holds dear. However, the fateful birthday is mere days away…

As you might have noticed by now, I’m not generally a fan of paranormal romance. Although it’s an incredibly popular genre, many writers seem to struggle to find a balance between romance and storytelling. This does not seem to be a problem for Bauer at all, making this actually one of the most memorable paranormal romance stories that I’ve reviewed to date.

Wolves and Roses had a brilliantly original concept. It is a world where faeries, shape-shifters and wizards – collectively known as the Magicorum – live side-by-side with ordinary humans. This made for a really effective blending of classic faerie tale and urban fantasy. While perhaps a little exposition heavy, the opening chapter is quick to establish the scene, introducing Bryar and Elle, two characters who are expected to conform to the “lifestyle” of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, yet have no interest in a princess’s happily ever after.

However, the concept of Wolves and Roses did have a few issues. The resounding questions of “why” and “how” hang over most of this story. We are told that all of the Magicorum live their lives according to template, yet this felt a little too vague. At no point is explained how they come to receive their template. Are there roaming bands of faeries that travel the world cursing babies? Do male members of the Magicorum have templates, as neither Alec or Knox make mention to having fulfilled one? What happens if someone was not to fulfil their template by the time they turn eighteen?

This last one was something that I felt needed particular clarification. In the first chapter, we are introduced to a teenage shifter called Scarlett, whose life conforms to the Little Red Riding Hood template. Through her, we learn that a shifter’s inner animal will die if they do not transform before they are eighteen. This makes quite clear why it’s imperative that she lives up to her template, but the same threat doesn’t seem to hang over wizards, faeries and humans. After a while, I realised that the novel was never going to address this issue and so I was just forced to accept it and move on.

The story itself is pretty fast paced and I soon found myself drawn in. While I did feel that it lost a little steam after the showdown with the big bad, which occurred around sixty pages before the end of the story, the novel was certainly interesting enough to keep my attention throughout and some of its twists genuinely took me by surprise. I was also pleased with how the book ended, as it neatly wrapped up this phase of the story while still leaving a few unanswered threads to be picked up by the sequel.

My only real problem with the way that it was written was the amount of repetition. As I am reading from an unedited proof of the text, it is possible that this will be amended by the time of release but I did find that some plot points were hammered home a little too hard. Take for example my earlier comment about the inner animals of shifters. We are told many times over the course of the story what happens when a shifter turns eighteen, and it felt a little unnecessary. It’s an important aspect of the world-building and not likely to be something that the reader forgets.

However, the book’s strongest aspect was its characters. All four of the protagonists in the story – Bryar, Elle, Knox and Alec – are very strong and likeable. Each of them is very distinct and I enjoyed learning their unique character traits, from Alec’s womanising to Elle’s skills as a con artist. However, Bryar Rose was the one who really stole the show. She’s witty, independent and more than capable of holding her own in a fight. While paranormal romance heroines have a tendency to be a bit wet, Bryar was fiery and I loved every moment of her chapters.

There is only one aspect about the characterisation in this book that I found to be a bit iffy and it’s entirely personal. The concept of romancing shifters in this book is a lot like the werewolf imprinting that you might remember from the Twilight series. As soon as Knox sees Bryar Rose for the first time, his inner wolf goes mad and spends the rest of the novel telling Knox that he needs to mate with her and have cubs. I know that some people really like the idea of love at first sight but I find it a little creepy. Sorry, but it’s true. I like relationships to take the time to grow naturally. Imprinting is just a little too close to destiny for my liking.

Yet, despite my hang-ups, I did actually enjoy Wolves and Roses a lot more than I was expecting and I’ll certainly review the sequel when it’s released. If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, or like your romances to be heavily driven by plot, I’d certainly recommend giving it a try.

Wolves and Roses can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Giselle [Xpresso Reads]
    Nov 01, 2017 @ 12:33:10

    This sounds like a really original and exciting read! Great review, Kim! 🙂


  2. Trackback: Blog Tour: Wolves and Roses – Jill Jemmett
  3. Trackback: Shifters and Glyphs | Arkham Reviews

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