First Lines: “What a fool I was!” Emma Winthrop muttered, furious at herself as she stared down at Lloyd Pennington’s handsome face in the photo in her opened locket.
I managed to squeeze in a little book between my Outlander books (which takes so much time, but they are delightful). I figured a good little fairytale retelling was just what I needed.
I’m just going to copy the synopsis from Goodreads because it does a good job: Young, beautiful, and wealthy, Emma Pennington is accustomed to a very comfortable life. Although war rages abroad, she hardly feels its effect. She and her mother travel from their home in Britain to the family estate in Belgium, never imagining that the war could reach them there. But it does.
Soon Emma finds herself stranded in a war-torn country, utterly alone. Enemy troops fight to take over her estate, leaving her with no way to reach her family, and no way out.
With all of her attention focused on survival and escape, Emma hardly expects to find love. But the war will teach her that life is unpredictable, people aren’t always what they seem, and magic is lurking everywhere.
I was actually pretty impressed with this book, especially given how hit-and-miss I’ve been with the fairytales in the Once Upon a Time series. (Not to be confused with the TV show of the same name.) This is a pretty loose retelling. It’s the bare bones of the fairytale, but it’s completely its own story.
The setting for this was fascinating and way different than I expected. It’s set in WWI in Belgium, just as the war starts to really heat up and get super deadly. I mean, I can’t say I’ve ever read a fairytale before where mustard gas plays a part in the plot. But that gave the story a solid grounding in reality while still having bits of magic in it.
While I enjoyed the characters of Jack and Emma, I thought there could have been a bit more character development for them. They felt a little flat to me. There were flickers of strong emotions that I felt coming from them a couple of times, but they were more rare than I would have liked.
Also, this is a super fast read. I got it done in 2 hours with a few interruptions. I love when you can sit down and just inhale a book from start to finish like that (especially since the Outlander books I’ve been reading take at least 2 days of solid reading to finish).
Overall, a very cool retelling with a unique setting and interesting characters.