A very long time ago, Prince Rhen, the crown prince of Emberfall, made a very foolish mistake and slept with the wrong woman. He’s been paying for said mistake for centuries. Forced to relive the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he has to get a woman to fall in love with him in a few months, or he turns into a murderous beast and slaughters anyone he can find. If the curse remains unbroken, the season resets and Rhen is back on the day of his eighteenth birthday, starting the “game” once more.
The only one who survives his beastly rampages is Grey, the captain of his royal guard, who has to go into the mortal world for an hour at the start of every season to find a new woman to bring back to Emberfall, in the hopes of breaking the curse.
Harper’s mother is dying of cancer, and her father gambled away most of their money and abandoned his family, so now Harper’s brother has to work as an enforcer for the people their dad owed money to. She’s acting as a lookout for him while he’s reluctantly threatening someone on behalf of his “employers” when she sees what appears to be a guy trying to kidnap a woman in an alley. Acting before she can think clearly, Harper jumps the guy to stop him and ends up in a magical land, trapped with Rhen and Grey. Apart from the two taciturn young men, the castle is completely empty. There are musical instruments that magically play, any food that is eaten magically reappears the next morning. Parker does her best to try to escape and discovers that the people who are living in the rest of Emberfall are suffering, believing that the royal family has abandoned them and trying their best to survive in the face of foreign invaders or the constant threat of the monster hanging over them.
The wicked sorceress who cursed Rhen in the first place has decided that this is his final chance at breaking the curse. If he doesn’t find true love by the end of the season, he will remain a vicious monster and she will take over what is left of Emberfall. From Harper’s clear dislike of him, Rhen is pretty sure that he’s doomed, and tells Harper the truth (up to a point, he can’t really bring himself to confess to being the monster that murdered the entire royal family and most of the surrounding villagers), figuring they might as well be honest with one another in the few months he has left.
Harper is not going to let the people around the castle starve or go defenseless. She demands that Rhen and Grey help her distribute some of the frankly staggering amounts of food around the castle, that just keeps magically replenishing every morning. She also makes Rhen understand that while he’s rightfully depressed about the whole curse thing, he can’t let Emberfall be invaded by a foreign power either. While scheming to try to trick the neighbouring ruler from giving up their invasion attempts, Rhen and Harper spend a whole lot of time together, but will it make Harper fall in love with Rhen before he turns into a monster one final time and all is lost?
Full review here.