Loupe always dreamed of getting married. She yearned for a caring husband who would take her away from her servant-like existence at home with her stepmother and two stepsisters, a man who would love her forever. Those dreams ended the day she was bitten by a werewolf. Now she’s a mindless beast on the night of the full moon—a condition that forever prevents her from sharing a marriage bed. Not even the attentions of a handsome and endearingly strong prince can convince her that the life she wants is still possible.
Etienne is a prince in need of a werewolf. A werewolf himself from birth, Etienne and his family have protected their kingdom with tooth and claw—literally—for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the spell of a well-meaning witch is slowly turning him human. Only the bite of a cursed werewolf, one who was not born with the beast inside, can save him from becoming human. He has no time for anything that will not lead him to a cure for the curse. Not even the beautiful maiden whose gentle nature soothes his soul can take his mind from his goal.
Love cares little for the best laid plans or the impossible. A grand ball. The stroke of twelve. A magic “slipper.” All kinds of things can happen when you don’t leave the ball…Before Midnight.
This was an interesting take on both the Cinderella fairy tale and on werewolves in general. The book starts off with the 5 "Blood Princes" meeting beneath what turns out to be the "World Tree" and nearly coming to blows with each other because god save us from men who can get along. From there we jump int Prince Etienne's story, or rather Loupe's story that has to do with Etienne.
If I had one complaint about this book its that we're never exactly told what the intentions of the "well meaning" witch are. If I had to guess it was to make it so that Etienne--who she thought was cursed, not born a werewolf--would no longer be afflicted with something she thought was unwanted, but that's pure speculation on my part.
Loupe's situation is all too well laid out. Stuck as an unwilling participant in her stepmother and stepsisters plots to hunt the prized wolves for their pelts, Loupe spends her days (and nights) stuck inside the family's basement skinning and curing each skin to be sold. One such day caused her to be bitten by a not quite as dead as it appeared werewolf, cursing her. Which would mean double death since her stepmother would take unholy GLEE in hunting down her stepdaughter that she hates.
While overall I found Etienne and Loupe's romance satisfying, there was a couple leaps in relationship development early on that made me twitch. I did like that both refused to be crushed under the weight of their individual issues--Etienne spent his days searching for a cure to his mixed blessing while Loupe sought ways to protect the wolves. And despite the attraction both felt, it was their mutual interest in the protection of the wolves that initially had them bonding.
I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with the next set of Princes - I believe our dear vampire Prince is up next and considering how well his visit went over in this book, I'm sure he'll have a super easy time of it XD