{Review/Giveaway} ROSES IN AMBER by C.E. Murphy

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Earlier this week, C.E. Murphy stopped by both A Backwards Story and That Artsy Reader Girl to take part in a fun Beauty and the Beast-themed interview. Make sure to check it out if you haven't done so already!

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

    I awoke to the acrid scent of smoke. Later I thought that had I not been the youngest, condemned by two older sisters to sleep nearest to the rafters, none of us might have survived. It took two servants and often a dash of cold water to wake my oldest sister on any given morning. Our middle sister woke more easily, but slept so deeply buried in duvets that I already wondered how she did not suffocate. Smoke would have gone unnoticed by both of them until it was too late.
(pg. 6, US e-book edition)

    "You're a Beast. If I fight, your nature will make mastering me your prize, and no master ever wants to release his prize. Prizes are things, and things don't have feelings that matter. If I have any hope of getting out of here, it's in making you see me as a person. An equal. Someone worthy of respect. Maybe you won't. Maybe you can't. But making myself into a monster to earn that respect means you win anyway, so I'll be kind where I can be."


C.E. Murphy's new release ROSES IN AMBER first hit my radar when Alethea Kontis talked about how amazing the upcoming release was on Twitter. (Longtime blog readers will know how much I love Alethea and all of the fairy tale-themed books she writes! She's stopped by for chats with readers plenty of times!) THEN I found out that the book is based on the original retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Like...the REAL original. When people think "original French version," they think about the one from Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont that was picked up by Andrew Lang. Most people don't realize that she adapted it from Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve who has the oldest record of this retelling. Also the longest. We don't expect fairy tales to be very long, but this original version was over 300 pages, a full novel in its own right!!! Thankfully, the original version is now back in print as of January in this beautiful deluxe edition:

The book begins with a deadly fire that would have killed Amber and her entire family if she hadn't awoken to the smell of smoke. It is then that the family finds out their father has made some bad business investments and if their ships filled with cargo don't come back with riches, they're destitute. They decide to spend a month at a hotel in town and try to marry off the two elder sisters, but before they can be successful, they find out that the ship cargo was lost as well. Newly destitute with debt collectors banging at the door, the family slips away in the night to a cottage nobody knows exists to begin life anew. Amber and her three younger brothers adjust the best to the new circumstances, while her two elder sisters have the most trouble with their much less luxurious lifestyle. As time passes, they all become more accustomed to farm life and find new interests. Amber loves making perfumes. Her eldest sister Pearl might be a witch. When Pearl reads the family's fortune, she sees Amber's destiny entwined with her father's. Without her at his side during his upcoming trip to town, he'll surely perish. With her beside him, however, she might perish. Amber takes the chance to save her father and winds up stumbling onto a curse that will change her entire life.

And that's just a small piece of the summary! There are magical battles, deadly wars, and so much more!

One thing I really liked about ROSES IN AMBER was the way family was more involved in the life of our beloved Beauty. Plus, her two older sisters aren't prissy and jealous. In fact, the three sisters get to go into an awesome, kick-ass magical battle together that was really awesome and unlike any B&B retelling I've seen up until now. There are also some really slippery family dynamics at play on the family tree that hark back to the original retelling of the tale and make the story more intriguing to readers less familiar with that version.

Even with its rustic nature, this is a really modern world. Nobody cares who you marry. Pearl has her chance of suitors, and her top preferences is another woman. Nobody blinks twice at her choice--the only comment on it is that the suitor's family may mind since there are no other siblings and the family might need an heir. Even the Queen has a female lover. It's natural. It just is. In a lot of ways, the world is much more progressive than our own! There are still gossipers, though, and Amber has more trouble finding suitors than her two sisters because she is considered to be loose due to a previous relationship she was in. Some things never change, no matter the culture. This is a necessary addition to the novel, however, because once Amber meets the Beast, he doesn't ask her to marry him like he does in all of the original tales or many of the retellings. Instead, he asks her to sleep with him. Amber doesn't have to worry about being nervous about a new experience; instead, she has to be nervous about how that could possibly work, and who would ever want to?

There were a lot of strong elements in ROSES IN AMBER that I hadn't seen in other retellings before. I love that it used so much of the original story. There were parts that were really weird, too, moments that gave me pause, but they're spoilery, so. Ultimately, however, I went with them because I wanted to see where the story took me. Definitely a mixed bag, but one I couldn't stop until I'd finished!

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: M ( Sexual situations )
Language: --
Violence: PG ( Talk about Border Wars; a battle at the end of the novel. Nothing graphically violent )
Other:  ( Mention of bestiality )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I like that the font is very earthy and blocky, all while having thorny edges. It works well! I also like that the Beast is looming behind our Beauty; you can see his eyes glowing in the dark behind her. Talk about creepy!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: C.E. Murphy
Release Date: Feb. 6, 2017
Publisher: Miz Kit Productions


There is a story of a beast, and a merchant’s daughter, and a curse that must be broken. This is not—quite—that story. 

Amber Gryce believes in magic the way anyone does: as a thing of the past, marked now only by the long reign of an ancient queen sworn to live until her stolen son is returned to her. Such stories are romantic but distant for Amber, surrounded by family and wealth. 

But like magic, wealth can disappear. Left destitute, Amber’s family retreats to a forest holding far from their city home, where Amber’s love of roses leads her into the heart of enchantment, and draws her into a retelling of the tale as old as time….


During A Week of Beauty and the Beast,
we're giving away a book of YOUR CHOICE
from the event!

It could be ROSES IN AMBER!

This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL to any country that Book Depository ships to.  You can also claim an e-book as a prize; it doesn't have to be a physical copy!

You must be at least 13 years old to enter or have a parent's permission!

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