Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Artisans by Julie Reece - Ashley's Review

*I received this book from Month9Books, LLC in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: The Artisans
Author: Julie Reece
Publication Date:
Published By: Month9Books, LLC

The Artisans Playlist!

Synopsis: They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Raven Weathersby gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands.

To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day.

Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad's drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox.

But Raven's stepdad's drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she's ever known out of jail, or worse.

Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries' clothing line, signing over her creative rights.

Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can't imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes.

But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?


Review: First of all, I really love this cover! Normally I don't like when covers are redesigned, but this one is spot on. I think everything just works together so well, and I do love me a green cover! 

For some reason, I've been putting off reading The Artisans. There's not really any good reason either - the synopsis sounds fantastic, and I do love a good fairy tale retelling (hello, Beauty and the Beast!). But somehow this book just getting pushed further and further back on my TBR list. I finally decided I should probably read it when I found out that the sequel, The Paladins, would be out soon. That was clearly a poor decision on my part, because I really enjoyed The Artisans!

The book is told from Raven's perspective, and I actually didn't mind being in her head most of the time. She's had a rough life - her mother passed away when she was young, her stepfather spends most of his time drinking and gambling away what little money they have, and they're barely getting by on the money Raven brings in from designing, making, and selling clothes. From the descriptions, her clothes sound incredible though, and I was totally jealous of everyone who got to wear them! 

I think the romance actually works in this book, even though I didn't really expect to ship it as hard as I did. Gideon is complicated, but I found myself liking him much better as he grew and matured. I wish we had seen some things from Gideon's perspective though! He's so damaged but he tries so hard, and I don't think Raven gives him enough credit until much later. I felt bad for Gideon, but it does help slow down the pace of the romance. Gideon is infatuated with Raven at first, and her reluctance makes him slow down and give her time to adjust to the situation. 

Living in the Low Country, I really appreciated the setting. There were several times when I recognized places and I love that! Hello, all things Savannah! SCAD is huge, and I'm so excited for Raven to (hopefully) go there to further her design career. It's perfect! There are even smaller schools mentioned - I'm looking at you, Armstrong - and I still think it's really cool that there are real locations mixed in with this fantasy world. The South Carolina low country is an amazing place and everything that happens is totally something I could see really going on. It's a place that's just begging for magic. 

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fairy-tale retellings that follow the same structure but tell a completely new story. There are obvious nods to Beauty and the Beast, but it still felt fresh and new. It's also a little fantasy, a little contemporary romance, and a little Southern gothic, and I just loved all of that put together. Julie Reece knows how to tell a story, and I can't wait to read The Paladins to find out what happens next! 4/5.


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