Series: A Villain’s Ever After, Book 3
Genres: Fantasy; Retelling; Romance; Fairy Tales; Young Adult; Novella
Publication date: August 27th, 2021
Marriage: the ultimate heist.
Robin of the Wood spends her days robbing from the rich to feed the poor. But she and her merry band of brothers never seem to get anywhere. The more she steals, the more the evil Lord Guy “Bluebeard” taxes the villagers.
When Robin discovers that Lord Guy plans to marry yet again, she conceives a plan for a final, big score. As Guy’s wife, she will have access to his wealth. The lord is notorious for killing his wives shortly after he marries them, but Robin has no plans to be dead wife number four.
The only problem is that Lord Guy is devastatingly handsome, brooding, and nothing at all what she expected. If she isn’t careful, she might just find that he steals her heart before she can rob his riches.
Bluebeard and the Outlaw is one of twelve short novels in A Villain’s Ever After, a collection of stand-alone stories featuring villainous twists on some of your favorite classic fairy tales. Read the series in any order for magical adventures . . . and fall in love with villains as you’ve never seen them before. Who said villains can’t have happily-ever-afters?
Perhaps you have heard the tale of the blue-bearded man and his murdered wives. Maybe you’ve wondered how a girl could be so foolish as to marry him. She must have been forced, you say. Or incredibly desperate.
Well, dear reader, I married him. But the legends don’t tell the whole story. I might have been a fool. But I was the most reckless kind of fool, who believes she is a daring hero with legends of her own to make.Chapter One
I really enjoyed reading this story. I’ve noticed recently that I’m enjoying series of novellas by multiple authors more and more – A Villain’s Ever After being no exception. I love the way it introduces me to different worlds, different characters, different writing styles. It also helps me discover authors that I might not otherwise have stumbled across.
In fact, that’s the way I stumbled across Grayce’s works. Not through this story, like I thought going into this read, but through a different collection of novellas by multiple authors. While I thought “man, this writing style seems really familiar” multiple times while reading this story, it wasn’t until close to the very end that I realized exactly why this writing felt familiar. And that’s because I’d read Stolen Midsummer Bride back in July (review here).
In case it hasn’t been made obvious at this point, or if you’re new here, I truly love a good retelling. More often than not, I’ll look for a new retelling when I’m looking to pick up a story from a new author. That way I might not know how the writing style will be, but I’ll know what to expect from the story. Plus it gives me a chance to experience characters I know and love, even if their characteristics and temperaments might be different from usual.
Both the tale of Robinhood and the tale of Bluebeard aren’t tales that I’ve read many retellings for, so it was quite the treat to pick up this story that deals with both of them. I went into this story knowing the basic traits of both of these story, but not much more. And I was thrilled with what I managed to find.
Bluebeard and Robinhood are names that are pretty well known. Their stories are all but legend, their strengths and weaknesses known by the masses. But what if they were to tell the story themselves? What if you got to understand both sides of the coin, rather than just hear about the story from the victor? Sure these tales are often told as solo stories, but I adored the way the two tales were woven into each other. The way both parties can be considered the villain in the other’s tale.
This story shows me that I adore Grayce’s writing style and need to read more from her. Having stumbled across her writing twice now, there is no doubt in my mind that I’m going to enjoy her writing in her other works. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I picked up her writing in the near future to read more from her….
One of my favourite plot points in this story was the fact that Robin was actually the villain in Bluebeard’s tale. While it’s true that Robin was seen as the hero by the people, that’s only because they didn’t see the long term consequences of “Hood’s” actions.
Like Bluebeard – Duke Guy – said, Hood’s actions led the king to setting more and more guards and taxes on the caravans going through the Dukedom. The money for these extra security measures had to come from somewhere, and there was no way that the king was going to give up his own fortunes for a Dukedom’s problems. He might be sending more men in to “help” and protect the cargo, but their fees had to come from somewhere.
Thanks to Guy’s own curse/deal with Reinhault, all of his “wealth” was useless outside of his borders. That meant that Guy couldn’t protect his people with his money, because he didn’t really have any. The fae’s bargains might seem sweet to the naïve, but the fae is always going to win out in the end. Every bargain is going to be one sided, and the fae are never going to be the side that has to give up more.
To Robin’s credit, she did an amazing job at realizing her own mistakes in the Dukedom’s problems. As soon as Guy explained his side of the story to her, she was grown up enough to admit that she was in the wrong. Her actions seemed heroic to herself, but she didn’t consider the consequences to others. She felt rightfully at fault when she realized the implications of her actions instead of denying her place in blame like so many people do when their actions are shown to be more harmful than they originally thought.
Besides, it was awesome seeing Hood being a girl, to see her kicking ass and being as acrobatic as the original Robinhood tale entails. She did exactly as her tale needed – she stole from the rich to give to the poor. Only this time she became the “rich” – the ruling class – and ended up working within the system to fix the issues within the Dukedom. Sure she had to give up the title of “Hood” to do so, but it really was for the greater good. Not to mention the fact that she did it for the love that was slowly blossoming between herself and Guy.
Then on the other side we have the Bluebeard myth/legend. A man who was known for being cruel and killing his wives. Who would be desperate enough to marry a man like that? Is it someone who truly thinks they can change him? Someone who thinks “surely he can’t be that evil”? Or someone who’s got their own agenda.
Robin thought she’d be able to kill Guy before he killed her, so she was pretty sure she could handle herself if things went sideways. Heck, she even made sure that the marriage was legally binding by only signing her first name – and not her fake last name – on the marriage certificate.
Little did she know Reinhault was the real villain of the story. That he was an escaped convict of the worst kind from the fae court. That all of the disasters, the droughts were Reinhault’s fault. That he was the reason Blackbeard’s wives were being killed.
Of course being fae he couldn’t lie. So when he said that he watched Bluebeard killing his wives he was telling the truth. He just… left out a couple key points. Like the fact that he was controlling Guy, that Guy never wanted to hurt his wives. That he made the drought worse each time Guy resisted his commands to find a new wife to satisfy his bloodlust. That Guy had actually been in love with his first wife when he’d been forced to kill her. Sure she’d been perfect to Guy, but she hadn’t been Reinhault’s idea of perfect.
Thankfully, Robin was able to help Guy overcome Reinhault’s control, to end his evil for the last time. She might have had to give up the title of Hood to the villain, but it was a worthy cause. Hood had done “his” part in protecting the people during Reinhault’s reign of terror – even though the people that it was really the Duke that was the evil one. It was Hood’s time to disappear, for the world to move on, and for the Dukedom to see that Guy wasn’t the evil mastermind that his people thought he was.
Like I said, I really enjoyed my time in this world. I’d love to see more of Robin and Guy, to see how they deal with the aftermath of Reinhault’s terror. To see how their kids are raised by two loving parents and about a million uncles who so clearly love each other fiercely. Okay, maybe not a million. But enough that they’d need one giant table to seat everyone! (Good thing the Duke married into the family, eh?)
As it stands, I’ll have to deal with just reading more of Grayce’s writing. Shame, really. 😉
Other reviews for Grayce’s work: