An English manor home with secrets. A family history mired in murder and mayhem. And a steamy romance just waiting to erupt...
Before I get into anything at all about this book, I'd like to state for the record that I'm still a Kristen Ashley mega fan. Not a single month goes by without me reading a new KA book or rereading an old favorite for comfort. So if this is the first review of mine/others that you're seeing for a book from this author, I encourage you to check out my other reviews. Just because this one didn't become a new 5-star favorite read of mine doesn't reflect on my very high ratings of her other books. Check those out, and try this one for yourself!
Daphne Ryan, American billionaire heiress to her retail tycoon father, is on her way to a remote English manor house with her stepmom, Lou. They're both not looking forward to their destination. But family duty calls....
Portia is Daphne's spoiled younger sister. The one who's a pain in the ass, pouts and acts out to get what she wants, and is constantly at odds with her sister because according to their late father's iron-clad will, it is Daphne and Lou who hold the strings to Portia's inheritance.
Portia's asked Daphne and Lou to come to Duncroft, the English estate of her new boyfriend and his family, to impress the parents and show off how well she's doing in life to get Daphne to loosen the noose on her money. They've been invited for an entire week. No distractions—just Portia, her family, and David's entire family. At Duncroft.
Mhmm, awkward yet?
Add into the mix: Ian Alcott. David's older, sexier brother. Ian hates his role in the aristocracy, he's had enough of David and Portia's bullshit, and he's been invited to stir up further trouble. And he's got his eyes on new prey... Daphne.
But Duncroft isn't just a silent setting for this complex family drama played out over one idyllic week. This manor house has secrets, and it goes bump in the night. And it has some unsolved mysteries that it wants solved.
Daphne and Ian are about to get a whole lot more than they bargained for in this week. And it's going to get steamy...
Too Good to Be True was an entertaining read. Kind of like spending a fun week with characters playing house in those stately estates featured in our favorite British TV shows and movies, I enjoyed the vibes of this story a lot. Who murdered the mistress off of the balcony? Was it the lord of the manor in the Turquoise Room? The younger brother in the Brandy Room? Etc. Etc. As a Clue, Pride and Prejudice, and Agatha Christie fan, I had a very fun time with these fun little details and the engaging mini-mysteries.
In terms of the actual plot and romance—sigh, okay, you've got me. I had a slightly harder time here.
I think it was the fact that this full-length novel was originally written as a Kindle Vella. The mini-episodic story structure—Vellas are produced in short segments, like old newspaper story installments, over time—was definitely still at play here in this longer novel. As a marathon/endurance reader who reads books in as few sessions as possible, this was a hard sell for me as I was very aware of that structure going in and it felt like it repeated its own structure ad nauseum in the middle of the narrative.
However, that being said, I think this a fun read for those who just want to rest their brain a while with these fun characters in a very classic setting. There's a dash of mystery, a dash of historical, a dash of family drama, and a dash of steamy romance. It is a very fun sampler platter of a lot of good tropes!
Thank you to the author for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Stripped to the essentials, crystalized characters and electric plot. What a novella.
Sense of horror: ★★
Some stories just have that "it" factor, you know?
Goddess of Filth is one of those. A group of young women get together one night. They host a seance of sorts, inviting the "old gods" to join them.
One of them does, and it possesses one of the young women. She writhes on the ground, totally unknown, and from that night on another being walks within her skin, showing itself with its caiman eyes (crocodile relative) and its odd ways.
And when the young women/demonic hybrid starts to showcase disturbing trends of femininity and agency mixed with revengeful actions against those with deepest sins...
Yeah. Things are about to get interesting.
Goddess of Filth was a very unique novella with a simple pitch: Girl gets possessed.
But then, with its bare-bones writing style mixed with a blend of the macabre and the mundane, this novella shone. I found myself gripped, wanting to know what would happen and how it would go down.
Super unique. Looking forward to exploring more from this author and more short horror from Creature Publishing.
The fae are fickle, wicked things—and the worst thing a human can do in their presence is be interesting...
Characters: ★★★ 1/2
Sense of mystery: ★★★★
Romance: ★★★ 1/2
Tropes: why choose, male/female pairing, unreliable narrator, multiple love interests, faeries, deadly game/competition, primal(ish), morally grey, enemies-to-lovers, slowwww burn, unresolved mysteries in first book.
As a Holly Black, Melissa Marr, and OG faerie reader, I like my fae the old way. I want them to be unable to lie but viciously able to talk circles around their truths. I want them to be inhumanly powerful and jaded by their long lives to the point where normal moralities have left them. I want them to have personalities and jawlines sharp enough to cut a knife. I want them to feel undomesticated and wild, like a predator that you know you shouldn't bring inside your home.
(I don't think these things are too much to ask.)
Wilde Fae delivers on THOSE kind of fae. And I was so here for it.
There are no wings here, no shadow daddies, no "I'm big and tough but yet still somehow super empathetic". (There's nothing wrong with those traits, I hold them as my precious in their time and place.) The fae men of this novel are actually dangerous, they do not care if you make it to the end of the night, and the only thing that truly terrifies them is boredom.
So for our main character, Lonnie, the true terror she deals with is this: she's interesting.
Lonnie is interesting to the fae every day, due to some odd spark in her aura that she's terrified to acknowledge. Being interesting is already bad enough—but when one fateful night leads to a shocking outcome, Lonnie finds herself in a whole new realm of unwelcome fae attention. Specifically, the attention of the ruling fae family: the Everlast. And it's a toss up on whether she's going to survive to the end.
The wicked brothers of the Everlast family all have different reasons to hate Lonnie. But due to the bindings of their house and the situation Lonnie finds herself in, they can't end her... yet.
Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer...
Clearly, I loved this novel and had a lot of fun reading. Here are some specific, non-spoiler reasons why:
- The slowest of slow burns. It's rare to have a fae-based romantasy where the characters build their tension in a realistic time frame. I loved that this novel didn't speed things up to fit anything into this first book in the series.
- The unresolved mysteries. The fae and Lonnie are all holding their own secrets, and again, in a unique turn of events this novel does not reveal any of them. I'm hooked on the unknown, and I'm thrilled that these questions are propelling us into the second book without a ton of hasty reveals.
- Not bogging the reader down with dense descriptions. I'll repeat, I'm a fan of Holly Black. Which means I'm a fan of a story that is plot first, dialogue second, and descriptions third. I can set the scene myself with the colors of the room and the outfits and the set decor and etc.—give me the action elements, as that's what I want. This novel danced that line perfectly.
- And again, for the people in the back, the depictions of the fae. I enjoyed the commitment to their fickle, vicious natures. Lonnie's never actually safe, which makes sense due to the setup. But there are enough crumbs there for a us romance girlies that keeps this story from being a dark/grim romance. This is NOT a non-con/dub-con scenario, it's just a morally grey setup with some dangerous players.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.