Ensnared

EnsnaredEnsnared by Rita Stradling
Published by Rita Stradling on May 23rd 2017
Genres: Retelling, Romance
Pages: 380
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy at The Book Depository
Goodreads

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.
Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.
To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.
Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.
[This novel contains adult situations and is only suitable for readers who are 18+]

A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the story arc is predictable, meaning girl falls in love with Beast and vice versa, Rita Stradling’s Ensnared kept me guessing nevertheless. The buildup to the final push of love between Alainn, the pretty captive of Lor, takes twists and turns that actually had me wondering if the fated couple would ultimately be together.

What interested me in this book is the fact that it is a futuristic retelling, complete with robots that are very intelligent. Alainn begins her journey into the fortress of the mysterious, scarred Lor, posing as a robot, Rose, which was created for Lor by Alainn’s father.

Keeping up the guise of being inhuman, Alainn soon finds that the plan made for her by the real Rose model is not what she agreed upon, which was to go to Lor in Rose’s place for a short time before being switched out for the real robot.

As she falls in love with Lor, pressure mounts for Alainn to maintain her robotic act. Alainn is a brilliant character; she is very creative when questioned about her seemingly human behavior at times. While in the midst of falling in love, Alainn is being manipulated by another robot, the original Rose model, which is in cahoots withe the newer model.

Alainn’s seemingly idyllic existence with Lor is quickly shattered as she finds herself caught in a race against time to not only save the life of her true love, but to reveal to him her true identity.

Love, Maggie

The Fill-In Boyfriend

The Fill-In BoyfriendThe Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on May 5th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 343
Format: ebook
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy at The Book Depository
Goodreads

When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.
The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

I am totally not a girl who runs to see romantic comedies – I avoid them at all costs – let alone someone who reads romance-based novels. I felt as though I was being haunted by Kasie West and her books. Seemingly everywhere I looked in the bookish blogging world were rave reviews of West’s writing.

The Fill-In Boyfriend beckoned me to crack open its cover for a long time before I gave in to my intense urge to read it, despite my prejudices regarding romance. Now, I’m also not that into reading about romance of any sort in any book of any genre, which helps illustrate my reluctance to read West’s work, which I’ve seen referred to as ‘fluffy’.

The Fill-In Boyfriend is full of fluff and I loved every minute of it! The book’s synopsis and title make it obvious enough that a girl basically uses a guy to pose as her boyfriend. What I didn’t expect was the roller coaster ride of emotions that I experienced while reading this book.

Gia, the protagonist, meets a stranger after being unceremoniously dumped right before her senior prom and, you guessed it, the stranger becomes her prom date and is introduced to her clique of gal pals as her questionable boyfriend.

Gia weaves a tight web of lies to cover up the facade of having a real boyfriend, even keeping the truth from her dearest friend, Claire. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the book is Gia’s newfound friendship with someone whom she normally would have overlooked, being the perfect popular student council president that she is.

The reader is taken on a journey of evolution for not only Gia, but for supporting characters as well. Cracks in Gia’s home life become evident; Gia’s friends slowly grow suspicious of her shenanigans; Gia’s ultimate frenemy is out to ruin her, but no one believes her, which clouds Gia’s judgment and intuition.

A caterpillar at the beginning of the book, Gia transforms into an illustrious, independent butterfly toward the end, gaining serious introspection along the way. I loved reading about Gia’s personal growth and the changes she inspires in both herself and those closest to her.

As I was taken on Gia’s road trip of lies, I was constantly swerving and weaving through emotions ranging from anger, to joy, to sadness, to empathy, to anger again, and finally to a terrific resolution.

The Fill-In Boyfriend has definitely changed my viewpoint regarding romantic, fun novels and I very much look forward to reading the rest of West’s work. Kasie West has made me an auto-buyer of her books with this single story.

Love, Maggie