Bookish and the Beast (Once Upon a Con #3) by Ashley Poston

Bookish and the Beast (Once Upon a Con #3) by Ashley PostonBookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston
Narrator: Caitlin Kelly, Curry Whitmire
Series: Once Upon a Con #3
Published on 4 August 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, United States, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Source: my local library
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5 Stars

In the third book in Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con series,Beauty and the Beast is retold in the beloved Starfield universe as bad boy Vance Reigns meets his match in fanfiction writer Rosie Thorne.

Rosie Thorne and her father have been short on luck - and money - for years. So when she loses her grocery store job in a heated moment of smashing the patriarchy, she knows she may be forced to give up on her dream of leaving her small town for a prestigious college creative writing program.

On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as Rosie’s been clipping coupons and secretly writing massively popular fanfiction. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA.

Rosie and Vance’s paths collide in a chance encounter, and suddenly cataloging the Starfield library at Vance’s manor house is Rosie’s only shot at saving money for school. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to Vance, Rosie has realized something about Vance: he’s a huge jerk, and she can’t stand him.

Still, there may be more to Vance than meets the eye. As Rosie and Vance begrudgingly get to know each other, secrets are revealed that could change their minds - and their hearts - forever

So basically my favourite fairy tale taking place in my favourite fake fandom (Starfield) by one of my most recent favourite authors…

I just loved everything about this book. It’s the third in a series, so the worldbuilding was already established and didn’t need to be as heavy as the previous two books – though I do believe you would be able to read this book without having read the previous two, but you’d definitely miss out on all the cool little connections.

The character of Rosie is new, but Vance, the resident bad boy (with an actual bad history and a nasty personality) isn’t, because we met him in a previous book. Rosie was really great: she was a cute book nerd – she wants to go to college for writing and loves stories – mourning the recent death of her mother. Her dad, who was incredibly hot and also bi, which was cool to see because we don’t often see queer parents unless they’re in a committed relationship, worked a low-paying job at a library, so the two were were not well off and sometimes struggled to make ends meet: which is why when Rosie quit her after-school job rather than be fired, she felt obligated to take a summer job organising the library of this run-down Castle-style house she found when she accidentally trespassed and destroyed a valuable book (which, like, GASP! Totally not cool). Rosie was a tad on the self-righteous but it didn’t hurt that she was also right most of the time. She was brave and a bit of a dreamer, and really there was nothing to dislike about her.

Vance was also bi, and I liked that this was handled casually. He also could have pulled off the whole ‘beastly’ thing if Rosie hadn’t met him when he was in disguise at a con. I have a bit of an issue with B&TB retellings when the pair met ‘before’ the beast was beastly, because then she KNOWS he’s already a good guy, she’s not really taking that much of a risk by falling in love. At least in the Disney film – of which this book was littered with references which made my heart soar – the Beast was a spoiled brat before he was a beast, and he was an asshole from the get-go, none of this sweet heart of gold stuff.

Vance, in comparison, was aware that he was an asshole and it was more like a role he played, a rebellion against the expectation of his incredibly privileged life. I never really bought it for a moment.

But honestly that’s all I didn’t really like about this book.

I love Poston’s style of writing. I was immediately sucked in and didn’t want to stop reading (or listening) at all. I deeply, deeply love the Starfield fandom and wish it was a real thing. It honestly feels real when I read about Darien and Elle and Jess and the Con. I loved all the characters, except Garrett, the book’s resident Gaston, who I appropriately hated and didn’t really feel like he got a good enough comeuppance. I loved Rosie and Vance’s inevitable romance and all the reasons they found to spend time together.

The narrators were really good, especially the male narrator trying to navigate Vance’s half-British, half-American accent.

One thing I will say – the blurb says that Rosie is a fanfiction writer, but we did not see any of her fanfiction and she never talked about it. I was kind of disappointed at that. I think the blurb is wrong.

I’m so, so incredibly sad that this series is over and I will never again set foot in the Starfield fandom. I want a movie! Or a TV show. Or a book about Starfield! Something! Anything? I feel like a phase of my life has ended.

Nemo
Nemo

About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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