This last week has been a rollercoaster of books for the two of us here at Books, Tea & Whiskers. We’ve finished two cliff-hangers and have A LOT to talk about for both books. To start, let’s talk about Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber. This is the first book in a new series that takes place in the world of her first trilogy, Caraval. You don’t need to have read Caraval in order to enjoy this one, but you will need to have a copy handy for the end so that you can binge that series afterwards. Trust us; you’ll see why in a moment.
“How far would you go for happily ever after?
For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings...until she learns that the love of her life will marry another.
Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic but wicked Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.
But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game—and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after or the most exquisite tragedy….”
Ashli: I’m going to get right into it… Stephanie Garber has earned a higher place of placement on my shelves thanks to this book. I actually read the Caraval series and enjoyed them, but they weren’t like my favourites. Now we get to meet Evangeline and see how she reacts with Jacks??? Gimme my Little Fox any freaking day! She is such an amazing counterpart to Jacks. From the moment that she drank from Poison’s chalice, defying Jacks and his request to leave her annoying family as stone, I was hooked on her character.
E: I’m actually quite impressed with this book , it’s my first of Garber’s. At first I wasn’t going to read it since I haven’t read Caraval yet. I initially thought like others that this was a prequel so I didn’t mind reading it. But it’s much more an accompaniment. And trust me, I regret deeply that I haven’t explored this world until now. Slap me across the face because I deserve it. I’ll be diving into Caraval ASAP.
A: I had also thought it was going to be a prequel but was pleasantly surprised to see that it actually continues the story from the first three books without fully spoiling them. The first chapter or two are technically a prequel and then we fast forward to after the events of Caraval, Legendary and Finale. As we got introduced/ reintroduced to characters like Tella and Scarlett, I was squealing in excitement to see them again. But I loved getting to see new characters and expanding the world, especially when the world now includes my precious vampires.
E: I love this world . It’s so whimsical but it’s not overly YA where I feel like I’m not the target audience. I really enjoyed the classic feeling of this fairytale and the lyrical writing. It was so immersive and consuming, it’s one of the rare books I’ve finished in less than two days because I couldn’t put it down.
A: It is definitely a world which you can visualize easily and want to be part of. There is a slight vagueness to it but it’s still super accessible to the mind where you can pinpoint approximate eras and clothing styles that would fit with it.
E: Now that I’ve read this book first, I do have a bit of a feeling what happened to Jacks but I don’t care, I’m addicted. . Jacks was such a good character. He wasn’t a villain per se, but definitely not a hero. He reminded me of Cardan in a way. PS- I know people either hate or love Cruel Prince so don’t come at me for making that comparison. But I love when we have a character who is fickle and not a cinnamon roll hero disguised as a broody anti hero.
“I didn’t think you cared.”
“I don’t. But you still owe me one more kiss, and until I collect it, you’re mine, and I do not like to share.”
I mean…. Be still, my wicked, villain- loving heart.
A: I don’t think I can take a bite of an apple without thinking of Jacks. Nor can I watch my boyfriend eat an apple the same way either. I will say that the deal that Evangeline made with Jacks is perfect… three kisses of his choosing. Kiss number one, I sort of expected once we heard about the ball. Kiss number two… that one was not expected but it was interesting to see the reaction that just a kiss on the hand created. If I could kiss someone on the hand and basically trick them into giving me information, I’d most likely abuse that power so much because I am obsessed with knowledge. There are so many things that I want to know in this world but people hold those secrets so close and hide the information in order to protect their reputations. Just think about all the world’s mysteries we could unlock with a simple kiss.
E: Who knew something like tossing an apple and taking a bite could be so sexy? Apples are now ruined for me.
E: So let's talk about Evangeline. I feel like she was a typical MC for me. A little annoying at the beginning but grew on me. There are very few female MCs that I adore and want to look up to; my standards are pretty high. I don’t think Evie got stuck in that box of being an idiot but… it was like that at times. You know when you’re reading a novel and the character is running around with their head cut off making all these stupid decisions or wondering what’s going on? That’s what I mean. While she had her schemes and did fairly well, I did feel like she could use a dose of reality or independence . She was so .. addicted to getting her happy ending it was a bit whiny.
A: I agree , but I really see her potential. Evangeline could have been a bit more… fox like? Foxes are independent and curious and know how to handle themselves. They are feisty creatures. I saw glimpses of those characteristics but then she shut them down super fast and continued along in Jacks’ plans. As I said earlier, she drank from Poison’s cup at the beginning! Against Jacks’ protests! But I don’t think those weeks as a statue did her any good because she stopped using her own free will for a bit. I still adored her though because I spent most of the book wanting to coax her out of her shell so she wouldn’t make those mistakes. I’m hoping to see a lot of character growth come book two once she realizes her part in this world and her real strength. Perhaps a little less trust in a guy who ran off with your sister and then used you from a cage as he tried to turn into a vampire? I’m really curious about Luc’s return in later books!
E: Garber did a really good job with her side characters! Honestly, Marisol had me stumped the whole time. Was she a secret villain? A sad step sister who’s been outshined? A true friend ? I think ultimately she is just a heartbroken girl who was raised by an awful mother and needs a really big hug. I felt for her and her backstory, even though she chose to lash out and turn on her family rather than rise above. In the next book I’d love to see more of her and how/if she redeems herself. Also would love to witness a blossoming friendship between Evangeline and LaLa!
A: Omg LaLa is amazing! I loved her from the start and when she was revealed to be a fate I was not shocked in the least because she oozes that awesomeness that is the Fates. And I sort of agree about Marisol but I still don’t quite trust her. There is always a chance of that jealousy coming back especially once she finds out what Evangeline really is tied up in plot wise. It’s going to be interesting to see how that character arc comes along, especially if the step mother comes back in the picture at some point and becomes more of a villain character.
E: What did you think about the other Prince? I actually liked him and Evangeline together, but never took it seriously since we knew he was enchanted . That sweet moment they had together before the wedding though, made me think under other circumstances they could have been happy together. I’m really not sure what to make of what happened to him. Do you think Jacks is responsible for his suspended dead/not dead state ?
A: I am still rooting for the idea that Evangeline is Jacks’ true soul mate. So our little Prince Apollo can step off to the side and let the real romance blossom. If Jacks isn’t her soul mate though… I would much prefer LaLa cause their chemistry could be something amazing. Who knows with the Fates as to who is responsible for Apollo’s Snow White moment? It could be any of them who had a hand in it to coerce Apollo’s brother into killing off his brother. We will just have to see.
Join us next time when we return to the world of the Wicked with the second book in the Kingdom of the Wicked series by Kerri Maniscalco; Kingdom of the Cursed.