Beyond the Filigree Wall review

A review of Beyond the FIligree Wall, by Melissa Wright

(Rivenwilde #1)

December 6, 2022

romantic fantasy, interconnected standalone series, fae fantasy, clean romantic fantasy

Note: I received an ARC and this is an honest, voluntary review

Beyond the Filigree Wall is a fast-paced story with a kick-butt heroine—except her only usable weapon is her wits. I really enjoyed this story and its world.

MC Etta is up against her father, the new chancellor Gideon (cue enemies to lovers tension!) and, on top of all that, the fae. But she can’t do anything about the fae until she becomes marshal, a position Etta’s trained most of her life for. Gideon has his doubts about her, however, and single-handedly derails her appointment by the Council.

The romance in Beyond the Filigree Wall develops steadily from a semi-forced proximity situation, with a dash of Pride and Prejudice. I liked that Etta starts as a formidable warrior, but the focus is on her mind, plus she has a bookish love interest. Though the ending was not perfectly tidy (and very complex), expect plenty of fae-worthy secrets, twists and tricks!

Beyond the Filigree mockup with Christmas decorations

The Borderlands Princess review


(Stone Circle #1)

Spicy romantic fantasy, fae romance

Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review.

I really enjoyed this debut novel from the Of Smoke and Shadows author. The story, though, is just getting started, so expect a bit of a cliffhanger!

The Borderlands Princess pulls a fun switcheroo on readers. At the start, I expected it to be the story of a human Princess betrothed to a fae king who is morally gray at best. While that’s true, it’s so much more than that! It’s really about a princess whose fate was decided long before she was born learning how to reclaim own life. She’s also a mature princess, not at all what I usually read.

The opening chapters were pacey and the plot had plenty of little twists, plus one big moment that I thought was a home run. There was also some clever play with timelines. I did wish it sunk deeper into Connall’s perspective and showed more of what happened on his end, since there was a lot going on in a short period of time. Note that there were also many line editing issues in the version I read, and the pacing lagged a bit in the middle. The last quarter, however, was truly exciting. It absolutely flew by for me.

I’m already looking forward to book two!

My rating:

Of Smoke and Shadows review

A review of Of Smoke and Shadows, by Ophelia Wells Langley

(Stone Circles # 0.5)

Spicy Romantic Fantasy, Steamy Fantasy, Prequel Novella

fated mates, fae romance, villain origin story

Note: This story is now available on KU. The version I read was a reader magnet and has some changes based on reader feedback.

This novella has some very steamy scenes towards the end and is for mature readers 18+ only.

This prequel to The Borderlands Princess is like ACOTAR meets The Witcher.

Of Smoke and Shadows is the intriguing backstory of the Fire Fae King in a forthcoming first book, author Ophelia Wells Langley’s Stone Circles series. It’s a series of vignettes of the moments that shaped Achill, beginning as a young, mateless prince afraid of his father. He quickly becomes brutal and has some hard life lessons that make him think twice.

There was spicy open door fae romance near the end, so if that’s your thing, the author has you covered! (And if not, consider yourself duly warned!) I also found Achill’s smoke magic interesting, especially since it’s considered substandard in his court. I’m curious how it will be used going forward.

Though not every period in Achill’s life had a full arc for his developing character (I wondered what happened while training with his uncle that changed him so much), the way the plot drops in on key moments very much reminded me of season 1 of The Witcher. The female characters were especially well-rendered, so I’m looking forward to reading The Borderlands Princess.

My rating:

A Promise of Thorns review

This series began with An Enchantment of Thorns, and it immediately felt like the Beauty and the Beast retelling I didn’t know I needed. Now, sadly, it’s time to bid these characters (but not their world) farewell with an A Promise of Thorns review.

A Promise of Thorns review graphic
(Note: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.)
I just love this series. This final installment of Aster and Thorne’s story returns to the forest, where both characters are most at home–and perhaps the writers, too. Rookwood and Vince’s descriptions are crystal clear in both the grand spaces of the Forest Court and the overgrown corners of a garden. This time, they also flex their skills with the opulent Metal Court, the creepy Shadow Court, a forge-working black dragon and some creepy sea fae.
As you can see, this is the quest-iest of the three books. While An Enchantment of Thorns focuses on curse-breaking and A Trial of Thorns on magical trials, Aster sets out to prove her claim to the Alder Throne in A Promise of Thorns with a series of tasks. Meanwhile, her rival, Faolan, becomes the frustratingly clever villain we always knew he could be after underestimating her too many times. 
A Promise of Thorns cover
After a somewhat slower start, A Promise of Thorns becomes an action-packed battle of wits between Faolan and Aster. He may not know all the tricks Aster has up her sleeve (she’s an enchantress, after all), but nearly every advantage is his.
It’s a good thing Aster has a few marvelous friends on her side. The supporting characters offer a lot of nuance and fun–and so do the delightful villains. It was often hard to find a natural spot for a bookmark. As a fantasy reader, there are few things worse than having to stop for dinner when the MC is about to meet a dragon.
Most of the breathing space in the story is offered by the romance between Aster and Thorne. I had a barely contained squeal or two and a generous helping of mentally shouting at them to just talk to each other (for Pete’s sake!), which may be the highest compliment. I was also glad that Aster’s familial love (and her love for her perfect friend Mosswhistle) were included in the story. They’re so often Aster’s greatest vulnerability and motivation, and add tension throughout the series. The payoff is spectacular.
It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to these characters, but what a fabulous send-off.
My rating:

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