About the Book (from the author's website)
Deep within the gardens of Faraway Castle sleeps a secret Rosa the gardener has sworn to protect with her life—the legendary princess Zafira. For three years she has hidden the princess almost in plain sight. But two nosy princes threaten to undo the work of a century.
When asked to take his sister's old job as Faraway Castle's Magical-Creature Controller, Prince Briar leaps at the chance. But nothing works out the way he'd expected, and he is far too busy working to gain Rosa's trust to bother about uncovering her secrets. Until dashing Prince Javier of Evora pursues Rosa . . . and Briar suspects the rival prince of dark motives.
I've yet to fully read the first two books in the series (although I have them on my Kindle and am looking forward to catching up!), but after reading the two companion novellas and this third book, I can confidently say that I love Faraway Castle! The atmosphere of this series is absolutely darling and imaginative, and I particularly love all the garden descriptions in The Rose and the Briar.
The author mentioned on Facebook that Butchart Gardens (not far from Victoria, Canada) was part of the inspiration behind Faraway's gardens, and I could definitely see that! So much creativity in plant varieties and layout, and I love all the magical twists in the book. Every plant has so much personality, and I'm especially fond of the topiaries and how they move and interact with Rosa and others. So fun!
The plot offers an interesting take on Sleeping Beauty with its focus on the princess's caretaker...and more than one prince in the mix. Sometimes the nature of Rosa's role feels a little odd, and this is quite a bit different than other versions of the fairy tale, but overall I greatly enjoyed the journey. Rosa is a little prickly at times, but she's still a very likable character, and life gets quite rough for the poor girl as the story progresses! Good thing she doesn't have to face everything alone.
The Rose and the Briar has adorably awkward and sweet romance, a whole menagerie of lovely plants with exciting abilities, and a plot that keeps everyone on their toes between parties to navigate and evil plans to thwart. Reading about Faraway Castle is a delightful retreat to a fairy-tale land populated with cool creatures and some modern twists. Excited to read more of the series!
*With thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*
Land a FREE e-copy of The Little Siren (a series companion novella) when you sign up for the author's e-newsletter HERE! (It's a sweet story!)