I was gifted a free copy of this book by the publisher, Quirk Books, in exchange for an honest review.
I was so excited to be given the opportunity to review Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston. Although Geekerella didn’t really spark joy for me, I loved the second book in the series, The Princess and the Fangirl and I was really looking forward to seeing what Ashley did with a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I wasn’t disappointed!
Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.
On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.
When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.
But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.
I think it’s important to be clear from the start that Bookish and the Beast is very predictable. I knew what was going to happen right from the start, and I’m not just talking about the romance. But I didn’t care, because the way it was written was so good I just wanted to lose myself in the story. I think this might be my favourite of the Once Upon A Con series, and whether that’s because it’s based on Beauty and the Beast, or it’s just my level of sweet romance I don’t know, but it is. Put it like this: it arrived at 10am, I started reading it at 3pm and had finished it by 5.30pm! It also arrived at the point where it was exactly what I was looking for in terms of mood reading, which probably helped.
I loved the two households we spent our time with – Rosie and her dad, and Vance and Elias – which both had a adorable family vibe (even if Vance and Elias aren’t a traditional family unit), and the moments when they interacted were some of my favourites in the book. But I also enjoyed the tension between Rosie and Vance and was rooting for them from the start, even while Vance was being a jerk and I loved that Rosie was a bookworm as well as a fandom nerd.
Speaking of being a fandom nerd, I have seen people saying that there were too many pop culture references in the book, and no one actually speaks to each other that way. Clearly those people are not members of SFF fandoms! I personally loved all the references, even the ones I didn’t get, because to me they showed a real love of fandom and what it means to people. This book was written by someone who gets it, and people absolutely do speak in quotes and references when they know the person they’re talking will appreciate it (and sometimes even when they don’t!).
There were a few things that stopped this being a five star read for me. There was a potential background queer romance that just seemed to get dropped, and I would have loved a bit more development on that. Also, while I liked Rosie’s friends, I don’t think we really got to know them well enough, which was a real shame, although I did enjoy their mission to take down the jerk who thought he was entitled to Rosie’s attention.
I should probably also mention the library, which sounded amazing. In fact, the entire house sounded amazing, and I am so jealous of anyone who gets to live in anything similar! I would maybe have liked slightly more at a con given that is the usual premise of this series, but the library definitely made up for it! And I thought the story fitted really well into the original Beauty and the Beast. Yes, it was obvious, but there’s nothing wrong with that!
Overall then, I really enjoyed Bookish and the Beast. I wouldn’t go into it expecting surprises, but if you want a lovely, bookish, nerdy YA romance then I definitely recommend it!
Bookish and the Beast is out in the UK today, 4th August 2020