If you've listened to the podcast for more than, I don't know, thirty-five seconds, you know that I live for period pieces. Give me all of the Bridgerton, the Gilded Age, and Downton Abbey that you possibly can and I will thrive off of it. Truly, period pieces make my heart keep beating. If they're set in the ton...even better; my heart's all a flutter.
While we were at YALLFest last fall, my niece, my best friend Brandy, and I were lucky enough to attend the "Love Is Sweet: Join the Joy Revolution!" event, where we listened to Nicola and David Yoon (aka the cutest couple on the entire planet) discuss Joy Revolution: their new imprint focused on love stories starring people of color, written by people of color. We also snagged a sweet treat and our pick of a Joy Revolution ARC! Y'all, it was the most difficult decision of our day! Ultimately, I picked up Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert while Brandy (and my niece!) grabbed Queen Bee by Amalie Howard. Brandy inhaled it recently and immediately brought it to me with cries of, "you have to read this book!"
She wasn't wrong. Queen Bee has EVERYTHING I love in a period piece. There's drama and intrigue, mystery and deception, and my god at the descriptions of the clothes and decor. I'm swooning just thinking about it.
Our narrator, Ela, has returned to high society three years after her former best friend, Poppy, lied and ruined her life. She's grown up, her adolescent acne is gone, her bosom has grown (is it even a period piece without the word bosom? I think not...), she's grown out and died her hair, and appears at the ton with a new name: Lyra Whitley. Lyra's sole motive? Revenge. Lyra is ready to take down Poppy, the boy who stood by Poppy's side, and all those who let Lyra be carted away without sparing a single thought about standing up for her.
In the ARC, there's a note from Nicola and David Yoon where they talk about how much they love the book. At one point, they say that the pages of Queen Bee virtually turn themselves and no truer words have ever been written. I could not finish this book fast enough, because it was drama from start to finish. Lyra/Ela was a fantastically witty and conniving (in the best way) narrator, and I loved being brought along on her story. I can truly see this becoming a Netflix show--Bridgerton for the YA crowd. It would absolutely be a hit, and something I would die to see brought to life in front of me. The set and costumes would be impeccable!
My only complaint is that Lyra/Ela's back-and-forth with her physical attraction to Keston was a bit repetitive. It seemed like every few pages she was pronouncing that she wasn't some swooning girl who could be distracted by a boy, only to swoon and be distracted by a boy the next time he breathed. Over and over, throughout the whole book. But this wasn't anything close to enough to make me dislike this book--I freaking loved it!
Queen Bee by Amalie Howard releases April 4, 2023, and I'm dying for you to read it. You can preorder a copy here now!
Love and tea cakes with currants,
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review with my honest feedback. If you purchase a copy using my Amazon affiliate link above, I will receive a small commission which I will use to justify my literary addictions and to spoil my dogs (probably).