September 9, 2016

Review: Lionheart by Fran Seen

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!

Lionheart: a Beauty & the Beast Retelling
*Digital copy was received from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Genre: New Adult - Contemporary
Pub. Date: August 8, 2016

Get a copy here!

I have a thing for a fairytale retelling lately, ever since I stumbled upon a kind of book which runs on the same genre a while ago. And ‘a Beauty and the Beast’ retelling? Please, I’ll stop anything to read the book. Including my long-hiatus of reading.

”I believed all this time that, when I finally saw your face, all I would be able to see is what you were trying to hide”

“But all I see is a man made of shields. All I see is you.”
I received a copy of the book two days ago and had read a few pages yesterday. I caught a cold today so I had a day off-work and using it to take a break while finishing the rest of the book. And Holy God… I did expect that this book would be a good read. I just didn’t expect it would be this good. I mean, not just good, it’s a very well-written fairytale retelling while at the same time didn’t seem like repeating the tale itself. Fran Seen had polished it somehow to be a whole new story with the same essential message of loving someone unconditionally yet wrapped them up in a modern way with a lot heavier issue in the background. To bring a topic like a war, especially a middle-east war in Iraq, it took a lot of efforts for a writer to deliver it through a story, moreover a romance one, and engage the readers to actually read it. In Lionheart, Fran even put so much detail about the war as to enlighten us about what the hero actually went through for us to be taken with his persona. For me, it didn’t just enlighten us on Alo, but it also got me thinking deeper about the sad truth of how people live in the other side of the world. Some people might skip the part about the war but I personally felt so much about Alo Rahim through the way Fran introduced him to us for the first time. How she didn’t quite tell us right away about the war he had faced, but the way she pictured him interacting with others and with himself was strangely enough for his character to ingrain. I already felt so much for him without knowing the details behind the awful past. What I liked so much about the hero is the fact that he’s broken but not hateful. I dig broken hero but a tiny part of me always bothered by their mean personality. I didn’t see this in Alo. He’s withdrawn with others and that’s it. He’s lonely, angry, disappointed but he got control. Yet basically he was just sad. And also got mean humor and corny jokes.
Meanwhile Lula is the kind of heroine who’s got a special spot in my heart. Determined, positive-thinking, caring, and so selfless it hurts me to see her so. But I’m those kind of people who’s believing in a good things happen to good people, so I could relate with Lula a lot. It was a good thing too that Lula was introduced to us while she’s already on her fight to standing up for herself. I loved her way of thinking and there’s a line in chapter 3 that instantly made me think that I totally liked her.

‘I mean-think about it-telling a perfect stranger to smile was pretty rude, like saying: “I don’t like the way you look right now. You’re ruining my scenery with your frown. Please change your facial expression for my benefit.” The premise was that I existed for him to look at and admire and appearing unhappy ruined his admiration.’ 
I never felt more connected to a character than now.

Fran Seen wrote beautifully, like really beautiful. She didn’t prolong the drama, didn’t write unnecessary angst scenes just to make the readers cry. She made me cry alright but it was because I felt like I was one with the characters. Like I’m Lula, dying to fix the unfixable within ‘my’ family, yet at the same time I’m Alo, fighting the undefeated bad memories. But Fran also got me laughing more than once through the humor slipped within the convos Alo and Lula had every single time. They exchanged banter like some old friends and it was just so heartwarming to see two people scarred by their pasts to be able to laugh together in the mere present of each other.

The writer obviously knew how to write a romance scene and I’m not just talking about one or two scenes but a whole romance scene in the book. There was this scene in chapter 12 that got me biting my nails in jealousy because I swear I’ve never been more jealous than when Lula and Alo sat together exchanging questions and answers over imaginary chocolates. God.

Besides the romance and the lovely characters, I loved the way Fran put everything up in their own places in the end. Like she resolved every problem in the book without making it seemed like it had to be resolved because the story has come to an end. No, she actually thought about it and gave the best resolution for everything and everyone. Really, this book just got better and better the more I thought about it.
Anyway there’s this saying in the end of the book that conclude the ending of how a romance book should end that I loved so much.

‘And that was the thing- having a significant other didn’t all of sudden make my life more significant, but he sure as hell made it more enjoyable’
Damn right, girl! It’s not all suddenly rainbows everywhere but at least you got someone to dance under the rain with.

I fully recommend this book to those who enjoy fairytale retelling as much as me, but generally though, to all romance readers, Lionheart is the book worth reading if you’re looking for one to cuddle with.