A really good story of which the romance forms a relatively small part. A 'magic kingdom with dark twists' story.
The heroine is a complete nut-case. She Has Issues. She should have started talking to her psychiatrist friend long before she began having strange dreams. I suggest that she should have sought help when she first started cutting her hands and feeding her blood to her roses. That is not normal behaviour. Even for a rose enthusiast.
This is the first romance I've read in quite a while with an undercurrent of man-hate in it. Also there are far far too many women in this story. Mothers, grandmothers, goddesses, handmaidens, actresses to name but a few. Already I feel sorry for the hero. Living in this Land of Women. Some of whom are quite vindictive.
But my main gripe is that by page 91 there has been absolutely minimal interaction between the hero and heroine. In fact. I don't even know the hero's name yet. So I'm bored already. Also at 35 y.o. the heroine is a bit old.
Let's look at Mikki's little job. She's an 'executive assistant' in a large hospital. Ok. Another name for a gofer. And what, I suppose, is the dream of an immature gofer. Why. To Be The Boss and have gofers of their own. Which is exactly what happens in Mikki's fantasy. But a 35 yo? Come on. She should have more options than that about what to do with her life. Plus. She can't handle a guy who has different reading tastes from her but is more than happy to accept love from someone who is essentially a slave with a magic dick.
Getting to the crux. This is a novel about carnal love between a woman and a beast. The hero has cloven hooves and horns. And then the author wimps out by having the pagan goddess Hecate take away his ability to consumate that love unless the heroine begs for it. I mean. The poor guy doesn't control his own fertility. If that happened to a female character do you think it would be acceptable? In a pig's eye it would. That's what I call man-hate. Also the hero is really simplistically portrayed and doesn't really act out of free-will.
But the whole novel is such a slog. tbh. I never liked roses that much anyway. I could hate them after reading this story. Poor Mikki is a slave to the stupid plants. And, as becomes obvious as the novel progresses, she's also somewhat dumb. She must have seen the movie Jason and the Argonauts. Hecate is not a benign goddess. Plus. Those dogs which accompany her should have given Mikki a big clue as to the true nature of the Realm of the Roses, which actually turns out to be a realm of nightmares rather than nicey-wicey dreams. It is not acceptable for a thinking human being to give up her life for the sake of flowering vegetation. Mikki returns to the Realm of the Roses. But I would never have done so. The place is drenched in blood. Not just Mikki's but all the previous Empousa's too. Ugh. It's a place with a history of ritualistic murder. And the chief executioner is Asterius! Eww. I couldn't really connect with Mikki. She's too earthy and, to repeat, is basically a man-hater.
I think I figured out why the heroine is 35 y.o rather than, say, 25 y.o. Because that somehow makes it more acceptable when she makes the decision to kill herself in order to save the Realm of the Roses.
What I liked about the novel is how Mikki's strange little behaviours are amplified in her fantasy world, but her other worries (job dissatisfaction, lack of a love-life) are completely solved. I thought the author handled Mikki's re-entry to the real world in a very clever, seamless manner. Mikki never spared a single thought for the pain her friends might have felt about her attack and consequent departure back to Roseland. Another characteristic of the mentally disturbed. The more I think about the plot of this novel the more it creeps me out.But. A few years ago I might have loved this story. Mainly because nowadays I hate all this 'fantasy world' rubbish. I actually think this world is more than sufficiently interesting and complex as a setting for romances.