Erin’s Bookshelf: Castle of the Wolf

It’s another edition of Erin’s Bookshelf, and I’m staying in the world of brooding heroes and sassy heroines. Romance! This week’s recommendation is particularly special, because it is one of my favorite books. I found a copy in a thrift shop years ago, picked it up on a whim, and fell in love with the story right away. It’s a little older, but I think it more than deserves some affection.

I’m talking about Castle of the Wolf by Sandra Schwab!

587901

You can purchase the Ebook on Amazon (admittedly, the paperback version might be a little harder to come upon).

Celia (Cissy) Fussell thought she was doomed to a life of spinsterhood and loneliness following the death of her beloved father. However, she is surprised to learn she was left an inheritance,the Castle of Wolfenbach tucked away deep in the Black Forest. There’s just one catch: In order to claim her castle, she must marry the Wolfenbach son. With the promise of a real future before her, Cissy travels from England to Germany to claim her inheritance and meet her future husband. Unfortunately, her intended is not as keen to meet her. Fenris Wolfenbach is haunted by more than the scars on his body. A former soldier who lost his leg in war, he has retreated from the world into his family’s former castle, and doesn’t appreciate the intrusion of the pretty English woman who claims his home is now hers. As the two clash within the walls of Wolfenbach Castle, they come to realize that all that glitters is not gold, and love can blossom even in shadows.

There are so many things I love about this book. It’s a fairly quick read, but it’s packed with emotion and detail. Cissy is one of my all time favorite heroines. She is naive and sheltered (as most women of somewhat noble birth would have been), but she’s funny, stubborn, smart, and views the world with a sense of wonder. Her love of fairy tales creates the framework within which the story is told.

Fenris is also one of my all time favorite heroes. Yes, he’s your typical brooding leading-man, but there’s a sweetness and vulnerability to him that makes his character endearing. He is terribly self-conscious about his body, and is riddled with guilt about his perceived ruining of his family. Not only is he strong, handsome, and overall swoon-worthy as any good romance hero is, but he’s emotional, and wants Cissy to love him even though he doesn’t think he deserves it.

Apart from the two main characters, this book is also beautifully written. The historical details are sharp without overburdening the story, and the author’s whimsical style of story-telling creates a good balance of drama and lightheartedness. There’s also a nice blend of Gothic themes with fairy-tale tropes (and not Disney fairy-tales…I’m talking old school Grimm brothers). The romance is steamy, but the emphasis is on the emotional development of the two characters rather than their physical attraction to each other (though that’s definitely there as well).

Though I obviously recommend it to everyone, I’d highly suggest this book to anyone who wants to dip their toe in the romance genre pool and see how they like it. Also, to anyone who leans more on the side of sigh-worthy stories over bodice-rippers. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Until next time!

Erin K.

 

Erin’s Bookshelf: Vicious (Sinners of Saint)

I’ve said it before, but one of my absolute favorite genres is romance. Paranormal, historical, contemporary…it it has to do with love, I’m probably going to love it. It’s the genre I read most, and it’s also the genre I’ve started to write in. So, naturally, I have a ton of recommendations for good romance books.

Today’s edition of Erin’s Bookshelf features one of my latest reads, and one of my new favorites. Vicious, book one of the Sinners of Saint series by L.J. Shen, is a contemporary romance available in paperback, Ebook, and Kindle Unlimited.

51bM01e8jAL

Now, the rest of the Sinners of Saint series is great (there’s five total to-date), but Vicious is my favorite. The story follows Emilia LeBlanc, a young artist struggling to support herself and her sick sister in New York City. One night, while hovering over rock bottom, she has a chance encounter with Baron (Vicious) Spencer, her high school crush/nemesis. Ten years earlier, he drove her from the small California town her family had moved to when her parents found jobs working on the Spencer’s estate. Vicious claimed to hate her then, and when they are reunited, nothing appears to have changed.  For Vicious, running in Emilia again presents the opportunity to settle old scores, and finally indulge his obsession with the girl who tormented his every thought when they were younger. He hates her, and she hates him, but he has to have her. The passion between them is undeniable, but their past mistakes and pain blur the line between love and hate until neither are sure where they fall.

There are three big reasons I love this book. The first is that I love a hero who is tall, dark, and a little broken. I’ve never been as big a fan of the straight-laced golden boys who don’t have any internal demons to wrestle. And man, does Vicious have some demons. Seeing how he comes to terms with them and deals with them makes me root for him that much harder, and keeps me from hating him at times (because he can be a real a-hole).

The second reason is that I like a story where the emotional stakes are as high, if not higher, than the physical stakes. There are plenty of stakes and conflicts outside of Vicious and Emilia’s relationship that keep the story engaging, but the emotional roller coaster that takes place between them is what made me finish this book in two days. There’s a realness and rawness to their inner conflicts and baggage that you don’t always see in romance, but when it’s there, it sets that book apart in a gigantic genre.

The third reason is that, in a world where women are compartmentalized as either prudes or sluts, I like a strong, quirky heroine who isn’t shy about her sexuality. Though her good-girl persona might make you think otherwise, Emilia is assertive in the bedroom, and even though Vicious is very much an alpha, she is by no means submissive. She gives as good as she gets, and is not shy about voicing her needs and demands when it comes to sexual situations (and non-sexual ones).

I could go on and on about how much I love this book, but I don’t want to give anything away. If you love romance, and want something that will keep you on the edge of your seat with a bad-ass hero and a strong-willed heroine, then go check it out for yourself, as well as the rest of the Sinners of Saint series (if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read them all for free!).

Until next time!
Erin K.