Storming the Castle
by Eloisa James
audio book narrated by Nicola Barber
Fairy Tales #1.5 (novella)
This novella started strong, and truthfully, I had been thinking that I liked it more than I liked it's preceding book, A Kiss At Midnight. Because, truthfully, A Kiss At Midnight was just riddled with romance plot clichés and over dramatic angst, even if the book itself was pretty enjoyable.
The conditions of which Phillipa leaves her family and her betrothal to pursue a life for herself was exciting. In fact, it was the best part of the novella, because it helps establish Phillipa's character outside of just being a Romance Novel Heroine, where everything revolves around a man and her love life. I loved that she has a self-revelation about not wanting to continue being told what she should feel, how she should think, what she should want with her life, or how lucky she was to have her future taken care of for her.
That she took the initiative to step out of that mold to find her own way in life drew me in, and made me intrigued at what was in store for her.
That she would find Jonas Berwick, majordomo extraordinaire, in her future was also a bonus for me since I absolutely loved him from the first book.
The insta-lust that took place as soon as she enters the castle to become a nursemaid was not surprising. And I was actually looking forward to the potential love story between her and one of my favorite characters from A Kiss At Midnight, Prince Gabriel's half-brother, Jonas Berwick. Since the first book, I had found Berwick's character to be much more attractive and interesting than the main male character and had secretly wanted Kate to fall for him instead.
I had hoped he'd get his own book.
But a novella will have to suffice, I suppose, though, to be honest, after finishing this novella, I feel like Berwick deserved a much better story.
The moment we get to the castle, the story kind of plateaus and stops being exciting. The love story feels supremely lukewarm, and while I like that Phillipa and Berwick don't fall in love at first sight, I never felt the chemistry between them. I felt more chemistry between Kate and Phillipa, or even the castle's French cook and Phillipa, than between our resident main couple. Berwick was severely underused in this novella, and honestly, I repeat, he deserves a full length novel and a better story.
When we get to the concluding chapter and find out that Phillipa had, yet another reason for not wanting to marry her betrothed Rodney... I guess that was it for me. Because simply wanting the freedom to make her own choices wasn't enough? I couldn't fault her for that. But she announces another, much more superficial reason to her father, barely even mentioning the fact that she was tired of being strung around like a puppet by the people in her life. No, Phillipa's reasons for not wanting to marry Rodney had more to do with the fact that Rodney isn't exactly the most physically appealing person, despite the fact that he was never a bad person to begin with.
That conclusion severely set Phillipa's character development from the first couple chapters backwards, and I stopped feeling bad for her that her father kept trying to force her into a life she didn't want.
Anyway, I can't deny that despite everything I disliked about this novella, Eloisa's writing style for the Fairy Tales stories are written in a distinctly "Once Upon A Time" like whimsical way that I like. It truly feels like I'm reading (or in this case listening to) a fairy tale being told.