And now for something different: this is the first ever book that both Ana and Thea Did Not Finish. Instead of a proper joint review we will discuss the book and why it did not work for either of us. And in the end, we throw a dare at YOU.
WARNING: This post contains spoilers
Title: Night’s Rose
Author: Annaliese Evans
Genre: Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance
Publishing Date: March 31, 2009
Paperback: 384 pages
Stand Alone or series: first in a series
Summary: Beauty was not awakened by a kiss.
For nearly one hundred years, Rosemarie Edenberg has worked tirelessly to wipe the dreaded ogre tribe from the earth. Now the tribe has gathered in London to work a spell that will destroy the scourge of their kind, the woman they call the Briar Rose.
Two magnetic men will unite to aid Rose–her mysterious Fey advisor, Ambrose, and the vampire, Lord Shenley, an Earl of scandalous reputation and even more scandalous appetites. One will save her, one will betray her, and both will challenge her to face the past that haunts her.
Once upon a time, she was ensnared in the mists of enchantment, cursed to sleep one hundred years. But this beauty wasn’t awakened with a kiss, and has never known happily ever after.
With the help of her handsome allies, Rose may yet find it.
Why did we read the book: This book is marketed as a Fantasy book which is a retelling of the Sleepy Beauty tale. Since we are both suckers for retellings and fairy tales it was a no brainer that we would read this. We find the cover really beautiful. Then it got really good reviews around the internet. THEN we both got review copies: one from Katiebabs and another one from Tor. It was meant to be.
ONCE AGAIN, WARNING. THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS! Read on after the break, if you dare…
Ana: Words that have been used to describe this book include: Dark, Bleak, Twisted. And at first glance it may well be so. The opening chapter was amazing and kicks-ass. Rose is a killer, a trained assassin of the Tribe aka, the Ogres. She is known as the Scourge. She has a Fairy-Sword, she knows how to fight , she is a warrior. It starts: she kills an Ogre then she is attacked by a few more and she dispatches them quite swiftly. There is a hint to the fact that she is cursed, that she has connections with the Dark Fey, that she was the Sleeping Beauty of the fable, but that she woke up 20 years too soon to find herself in the middle of childbirth, because she was raped by an Ogre.
So yeah, twisted and dark. And awesome as a premise. Just the way I hoped it to be. At least for the first few pages I was a happy camper.
Then she is joined in the middle of the fight by this vampire whom she is training, Gareth. He is, dashing, attractive, rakish. He is witty, he taunts Rose. He is hot. So hot, Rose forgets they are in the middle of a fight and starts to feel her traitorous body responding to his beauty. Her nipples harden, she is breathless and I am like WTF?
Really? Is this how the book is going to go? I go on because The Premise!The Reviews! Are so.good. Not a few pages later she meets with Ambrose, the Dark Fey that is her mentor. She is in love with him. He is big, dashing, dark, hot. Her nipples harden because she is so aware of him. She has loved him for ages you see. She is torn between the two. She loves Ambrose yet she lusts after Gareth, NO wait, she loves Gareth now but still lusts and possibly love Ambrose EVEN THOUGH HE WAS PRESENT WHEN SHE WAS RAPED BY THE OGRE AND DID NOT STOP IT. That my friends, would have made me KILL Ambrose and not go on whining about how horrible he is. She can’t trust either man.
Oh yeah, they are doing all this, back and forth between the two men whilst the Ogres are trying to fulfill a prophesy that may well bring the end of the world.
Thea: Dark? Twisted? I feel like I must have received a different book. Night’s Rose is like freaking Kresley Cole, A Hunger Like No Other, ALL OVER AGAIN. Except…worse.
I have to agree, Ana. I had seen the stellar reviews, read the blurb, and was intrigued by the premise. Heck, I’m the one that actively sought this book out! And I agree, the book starts out strong with Briar Rose tearing up some Ogre ass (ogres who look like extremely fat people, as their disguise to sidle up to folks in the ton only to seduce and then eat them), and she’s pretty awesome. But then – wouldn’t you know it? – a really sexy vampire whom Rose has been mentoring shows up and all of a sudden Rose’s nipples get all puckery and achy and her “sex” gets all wet and her womb is hungry. Seriously. Hungry wombs? Sounds like something out of a horror movie…oh wait, it is.
Basically, Rose finds herself totally into both her sexy vampire, Gareth, and her brooding dark fey mentor (whom she has loved forever) Ambrose. And…Rose is reduced to a simpering ninny. She’s a badass with a blade but she cannot control her diamond hard budding nipples (SERIOUSLY WHAT IS IT WITH ALL THE NIPPLES?!?!?!?!) whenever she’s around Ambrose or Gareth. COME ON LADY.
The story is secondary in this book to the sex, plain and simple – which is a shame because the premise sounded like it had something going for it. Even worse, the characters are mind-numbingly stupid. Rose is a moron. Gareth is every stereotype of a sexy vampire rake that has ever been written, and Ambrose is something else (he sat idly by, while Rose was raped repeatedly) entirely. Furthermore, all of the characters spoke like folks from the 21st century pretending to be in 1750 England (which didn’t feel like 1750 England in the slightest). The world building was pale and incomplete, the characters alternately boring and laughable.
What exacerbates the situation further is the fact that the sex isn’t even good! I mentioned Kresley Cole earlier, and while I think her stories are wafer thin and ludicrous, at least the sex is good. Not so with Night’s Rose. For example:
Rose shifted restlessly beneath him, legs churning against the soft sheets and the rougher flesh of his thighs. The purely masculine feel of that rock hard furred skin against hers was almost as breathtaking as the mouth teasing back and forth between her breasts.
He sucked her bud into that wet cavern
Emphasis my own. Churning legs? Is she making butter? Furred skin and wet caverns…yeaaaaah, not my thing.
Ana: I have two big problems with this book: one stems from reader’s expectation. I did not expect it to be so erotic, to have so much sex/sex-related stuff on it. It surprised me because I wasn’t expecting it. Had I known, I would NOT have picked up the book. I wanted to read a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale within a Fantasy context NOT an Erotic one. I have no problems with sex in my books (hello. Romance reader here.) but I do have a problem with books where the characters are motivated, moved, characterised by sex or their sexual encounters. This is not my cup of tea at all. I was led to believe that this book would be something else. Rose starts the book as her own woman. A Fighter with a dark, horrible past but soon it becomes clear that is a sham. She is only a wishy-washy lady that needs to be protected by one man and guided by the other.
Thea: Word. Had I known that aching nipples would be on every page, I would not have read this book. I’ve read some excellent paranormal romance (Nalini Singh’s Angels’ Blood comes to mind), but overall it’s a genre that usually doesn’t do it for me. I’m not really a romance reader, I have a juvenile sense of humor and Night’s Rose is like the perfect storm of badness for me. Word to the wise: Night’s Rose is described by the author and publisher as “historical urban fantasy”….um, no. As Ana astutely pointed out in an email, a whole lot of this book takes place in rural England.
I thought this was a retelling of Sleeping Beauty in the context of a fantasy setting, as Ana did, with a secondary romance plot. Night’s Rose was definitely NOT what I signed up for. I don’t appreciate being blindsided by renegade aching boobies and dripping wet hoohas in my books.
Ana: My second problem with the book is the language. Especially the purple prose when it came to the sex: cream going doing thighs; womb that hurts because Rose was so excited; womanly regrets; traitorous womanly parts – I hate those. I freaking hate those. Firstly, cream going down thighs should make one see a doctor; second, painful womb reminds me of period pains and there is nothing I loathe more than a traitorous womanly body – how dare someone’s nether parts behave in such a way?
The point where I nearly reached my limit was the first sex scene between Gareth and Rose. It starts with Rose wanting to interrogate Gareth so see if she can trust him. This epitome of stupid ties him to the wall with manacles to two seconds later think this is not a good plan because all she wants to do is to shag him. Please. She then realises, with the Gareth’s expert guidance that she is wait, for this: a submissive, he is a dom, together they will know many pleasures starting with her learning how to be an obedient wife, because all that she ever wanted was to be a mother and to have beautiful children.
It is a sign of how much I can endure that I did not quit right then and there. I did reach my limit when a few pages later, he reached for the hair brush and spanked her. This was SO not what I signed up for.
As a reader I prefer not to read about S/M relationships (not my cup of tea, although I have no problems with it, when it is well written. I have in mind a recent read of mine: A Hint of Wicked) but because it came out of the blue with cartoonish characters, stupid language and because it all happens as the POSSIBLE END OF THE WORLD AND ROSE’S DEATH APPROACHES, it felt so out there in a book that was supposed to be a Fantasy novel. Plus, the kick-ass character that appears at first, coupled with the promise of a “dark” read created an expectation that came crumbling down when it was showed and explained to me that all that Rose really wanted was to be an obedient wife (at least in the bedroom).
Thea: YES, exactly Ana! The hungry aching womb freaked me out. The creamy discharge (ewwwwwwwww) along with furred hard parts, moist caverns, etc etc etc. Those damn traitorous womanly parts! Betraying good sense and being so deceptive and…womanly. *gags* That’s just offensive.
The brush spanking scene, in contrast, was flat out hilarious.
There, he fisted his hand into her unbound hair, wringing a gasp from Rose. “Perhaps I should continue to put this brush to better use.”
Gareth’s grip on her hair grew even tighter, holding her in place as he brought the flat of the brush down on her bottom. Once, twice, three times, until a moan burst from her lips. To her surprise, it was not a sound of protest or pain, but an invitation for her husband to continue his rough treatment. Her sex already ached, damp with excitement, her body eager to feel Gareth’s cock shoving inside her from behind.
I’m no prude (Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series is one of my favorite series’ of all time), so long as it is written well and in the context of the story. And Ms. Evans’s Night’s Rose is no Kushiel’s Dart. Um, HELL no.
I’m not even going to bother delving into the themes and the characterizations because they weren’t developed at all in this book. Suffice to say that the whole good wifey being disciplined by her hubby storyline? Not my thing at all.
One last gripe – HOW is this bastardization anything resembling the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale? The actual amount of time spent on the myth is negligible at best. Talk about false advertising.
So are we missing the point? Do you disagree with our views on this book? Wanna know for yourself? We are giving away our ARC copy of this AND AN ARC OF THE UPCOMING SEQUEL, The Prince of Frogs.
Just leave a comment on this post and let us know why you want to read the books – but there is a catch; the winner must write a review (agreeing or disagreeing with us) to be posted here by the end of August. The contest will run until Saturday at midnight (PST), and we will announce the winner in the weekly stash. Good luck!