The final book in the 500 Kingdoms fantasy romance series. This one was clearly inspired by Beauty and the Beast along with werewolf tales and has elements from various other fairy tales. It can be read without reading the other books first.

Publication year: 2011
Format: Audio
Running time: 9 and 52 minutes
Narrator: Gabra Zackman

Bella, Isabella Beauchamps, is the daughter of a wealthy merchant. Her mother has died, and her father has remarried. Her stepmother has two daughters of her own. However, they all get along mostly fine. Bella runs the household and handles her stepsisters and stepmother. But when she heads into the forest to talk with the local Granny, the wise woman who lives alone in the woods, Bella is attacked and bitten by a wolf. She escapes but early next morning the king’s men whisk her out of bed before she can talk with anyone. They bring her to a castle where a young duke Sebastian lives with his invisible and silent servants, and with Eric, the gruff games keeper who likes to seduce vulnerable girls and leave them. The duke is cursed to become a werewolf during the nights of the full moon and he attacked Bella. He’s sorry and he’s looking for a cure, after all he is a wizard.

Bella can’t help but to feel a bit sorry for Sebastian who seems to be a nice man. However, she still doesn’t like being confined to the castle for at least three months. Or if it turns out that she will also turn into a werewolf, for the rest of her life. As a first step, she investigates the invisible servants and put the house to order quite brusquely. But Eric is watching her.

Bella is another of the delightful heroines in this series. She’s curious and down-to-earth practical woman. She also acknowledges that she does have some faults, as well. For example, she’s afraid that her father wouldn’t need her anymore and she realizes that she has manipulated the family and servants around her.

Eric is the huntsman or rather the warden. It’s his job to keep people away from the castle and grounds. This gives him a great chance to be as are rude and crude as he wants. He’s dismissive of Bella at first and then tries to get her to his bed. He’s also a man with quite a difficult past.

Sebastian the young duke is kind and very concentrated on his work. He’s not seen much in the book. Bella spends a lot more time with Eric.

The tale has references to Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood in addition to the overall Beauty and the Beast story. It’s not very complex or surprising; it’s a fairy tale retelling. As that it’s quite enjoyable. It’s also completely a stand-alone.

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