Goodreads: Bookish and the Beast
Series: Once Upon a Con #3
Published: August 4, 2020
In the third book in Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con series, Beauty and the Beast is retold in the beloved Starfield universe.
Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.
On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. 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. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.
When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.
But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.
I enjoyed both Geekerella and The Princess and the Fan Girl, so it was only to be expected I’d pick up the third book in the Once Upon a Con series (though they’re really companion novels, and you could probably read them in any order and understand them). Yet after finishing Bookish and the Beast, which ought to have been a strong contender for my favorite book in the series since I LOVE “Beauty and the Beast” retellings…I find myself with little to say about it besides it was a perfectly enjoyable read.
Part of the fun of this series is how it revels in nerd/fan/con culture, and that’s certainly present in Bookish and the Beast, though the action not does occur at a con as it does in the first two books. References to Poston’s invented Starfield fandom abound, of course, but there are also nods to everything from Star Wars to Harry Potter to Avatar: The Last Airbender, as well as a general love of science fiction and fantasy. Readers who also love these fandoms will feeo right at home in this book.
In terms of actual plot…the book is fine. It’s obviously a looser interpretation of “Beauty and the Beast,” since the protagonist isn’t literally trapped with Vance Reigns. The set-up for how they end up spending together did feel contrived to me– both why Vance has ended up in this random town and why Rosie has to spend a bunch of time in his house.
Spoiler Warning This Paragraph: Basically I think it’s ridiculous that 1) anyone would assume Vance was cheating with Elle because they…happened to be in the same car together. She’s dating his coworker. Clearly they know each other and possibly hang out sometimes. 2) Rosie is paying off an expensive debt by organizing a home library, especially when no one has any idea whether she’s qualified to complete such a task.
I get that part of the appeal of retellings like this might be a suspension of disbelief, or just the fantasy that such wild things might come to be (hence the “falling in love with a famous person who never knew you existed before” plot), but I could have done with slightly more realism.
The book really is fun, and I had a good time reading it, but it didn’t stand up to the previous two books for me, either in plot or in romance. I’m looking forward to reading more of Poston’s work, but this does feel like a good close to the Once Upon a Con series because I’m not sure I would read more of this particular series.