Cover Image: The Everlasting Rose (The Belles series, Book 2)

The Everlasting Rose (The Belles series, Book 2)

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I really wanted to like this, as I quite enjoyed the first book, but I was just... bored.  The first two-thirds felt like a classic second book in a trilogy, with a lot of setting things up with not a lot of action.  I swear, they spent 2/3 of the book just moving from inn to inn and hiding.  The last third picked up, but by then it was too late for me to be very invested.  I also really wish that romance had just been left out of this one - the world is so interesting, and the premise, that I wish that had been explored more instead.

I did appreciate the continuing metaphor for how standards of beauty relate to race in our own culture.  I feel like that was more fleshed out or alluded to in this book than even in the first book of the series.
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I enjoyed The Belles so much that I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. For the most part, I was not disappointed. It was great to return to Orleans with Camillia and Remy and see what was in store for them in this installment.
Clayton’s world building is so wonderful and all of the little details pop right off of the page. I enjoyed exploring new areas in the world and returning to the old ones as well. There are still some aspects of this world that are confusing (post balloons and all the powders), yet it is easy to look past them and accept them as part of the magic. There were some snippets about how this world was created and some of it’s past, yet I still want to know more of Orleans’ history.
Camillia, Remy, and Edel go through some great changes that further their characters and keep the story flowing. The dialogues were usually to the point and not too extensive. I was with these characters and felt their emotions as they did. The pacing of the novel was done quite well. There was action, romance, suspense, and a bit of horror all laced together to keep the pages turning.
The ending, for me, felt quite rushed and unfinished. The “final battle” was sort of underwhelming and rushed. I would have liked to have seen more of a stand of between good and evil, yet this was cut off quickly and settled easily. The short follow up left the reader hanging about the fate of this world. There is a brief letter stating that there will be change and then we are done. I do like this world and definitely didn’t want to leave it on those terms, but I’m not sure if there is enough for a whole new story to go on. I did some research to see if there would be another installment and found that there is a slight possibility, yet nothing in the works. If this is the final installment, it is a disappointment. If this story does stretch into a trilogy, I will be excited, but a little cautious.
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I really enjoyed this next chapter in the lives of the Belles. With some of her sisters missing, Princess Charlotte dying, and evil Princess Sophia preparing to ascend the throne, Camille and her guard Rémy must work to set all to rights in Orléans. Nothing is as it seems as Edel and Camille muster up strong powers and join forces with a group of powerful women to try to free the Belles, save Charlotte, and stop Sophia. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to be an early reader in exchange for my honest review.
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I felt like the rising action took so long that the end felt a little rushed, but I still love the sumptuous language and compelling MC. Thank goodness less of a love triangle. I’m looking forward to more work from Clayton.
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Was this book even written by the same author? What a mess. Character development is all over the place. Subtlety goes out the window. Insta-love. This feels like two books crammed into one. Will there be a sequel or is the series wrapped up? I have no idea. This book is overloaded. What happened?
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<i>The Belles</i> took me completely by surprise. It was filled with lush descriptions, political intrigues and an entirely brand new world that was unlike anything else I've ever read. However, <i>The Everlasting Rose</i> paled in comparison. Nothing really happened in this second installment. I was waiting for the action to happen, for Camille to break down barriers with the Iron Ladies, or for something to happen at all. 

So, <i>The Everlasting Rose</i> happens directly after the events of the first book. Camille, Edel and and Amber are on the run with Remy as they try to escape the wrath of the newly elected Queen Sophia. Of course, hinted at in the first book, Sophia becomes obsessed with monitoring and assuring that a certain beauty standard is met. She is also invested in mass producing belles, who can bought and sold to the highest bidder to maintain these rigorous system. 

Camille's story mostly revolves around evading capture, trying to find Princess Charlotte and rescuing her sisters. A majority of the book is spent as Camille, Edel and Remy move around the city to avoid Queen Sophia's guards and find someone, who will help them. Unfortunately, this is not very interesting, and the introduction of the Iron Ladies comes towards the end of the book. It was lackluster and the structure of the book separated our main character from the main action. Furthermore, I felt like Camille, despite seeing Sophia's cruelty, was apathetic and more obsessed with rescuing her sisters than the greater good. 

I think Dhonielle Clayton has some very powerful themes in <i>The Everlasting Rose</i> that needed to be stronger and more developed. For me, I could see the themes of the abuse of black bodies, as well as, slavery entwined through the book. Especially when considering the obscured origin of the belles and how individuals decided to manufacture them to use for their beauty routines. It's a powerful theme and I wish Clayton had embellished upon it. Overall, I felt disappointed with Camille's lack of action and the very brief appearance of the Iron Ladies, who from the synopsis of the book should have appeared sooner.
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Dhonielle weaves a spell of decadent elegance and poignant social commentary on beauty culture in this sequel to The Belles. Camille, Edel, and Remy are on the hunt for Princess Charlotte to restore order to the royal family, and this story is just filled with all of the action, romance, and the wonder of the first book amplified tenfold. It's a race against what might be the scariest antagonist I've read in years. 

If you enjoyed The Belles, you should definitely grab this one for a bit of conclusion.
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I was SO excited to get the sequel to The Belles from NetGalley and am grateful for the opportunity to review it this far in advance. Though YA Fantasy is not my typical "go to," I am a Youth Services librarian who orders materials for our library, so I try to keep up with what has a lot of buzz. Despite being unsure about The Belles' description, I really enjoyed the first book. It's vivid description and forefront of attention on the hierarchy within the society won me over and I appreciated that the hints of romance were not in the forefront of the story. The Everlasting Rose, unfortunately, fell flat for me. The prominence of the love interests and the way certain plot elements would appear but then dissipate without adequate attention or conclusion left me irritated. I do appreciate this was a duology and I think readers who are big fans of YA fantasy and don't mind some plot holes here and there, may be happy with this conclusion to the story of the Belles.
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I loved this book! The full review will be posted soon at kaitgoodwin.com/books! Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity to connect books to their readers!
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