Last year I read and reviewed Cassandra Khaw’s Hammers on Bone and Rupert Wong novellas. Both works really impressed me, putting Khaw on my must-read author list. Bearly a Lady was released in July 2017 and I bought it on release day – the first time I’ve done so with a new book for quite a while. Unfortunately, my tbr pile and lifeTM have delayed my reading of it until this month.
Bearly a Lady is a very funny story about modern relationships. It’s set in present-day London and introduces us to Zelda, a young woman working for a fashion magazine. She shares a flat with her roommate Zora. But these two twenty-somethings are no ordinary flat mates; Zelda is a werebear and Zora a vampire.
It’s not fair. Back in high school, Zora was the frumpy one, but now she’s the glamorous vampire with legions of glow stick-toting hunks and I’m Winnie the freaking Pooh. [Loc 70]
Zelda has a crush on Jake, a werewolf she has fancied since primary school. She also has feelings for her colleague Janine. Just when she is considering taking the next step her boss gives her a new assignment: be a bodyguard for Benedict, a highborn Fae and the nephew of said boss. It’s an offer she cannot refuse. To make matters worse, Benedict is devilishly good looking and oozing with charm.
He smiles and it’s all the warning I’m given before his glamour comes crashing down, two-hundred megatons of magical sex appeal. It hits so hard that I feel the Change roar a challenge, a dull echoing in the marrow. [Loc 369]
Bearly a Lady is an entertaining and quick read. It’s full of laugh-out-loud humour and double entendres. Seriously, I should’ve read this sooner because it was so much fun! In the Afterword, Khaw writes about being a secret fan of chick-lit. Now, I know very little about this genre but if it is all as entertaining as this then I can see the attraction – especially if the story also contains supernatural or fantastical elements like this one. Plus, the otherworldly elements don’t feel like a gimmick. They are an essential part of the story and make for some brilliant set-pieces.
The only downside for me was the length of the story. Bearly a Lady is a novella and because of that it’s over too soon. I’d become invested in the world and the characters and I wanted to hear more of their (mis)adventures. The banter between Zelda, Zora and Benedict is hilarious and there is a tangible sexuality to some of the scenes. The skillful way Cassandra Khaw integrates the supernatural with the everyday is so subtle at times that you forget these characters are monsters.
As the author writes in the Afterword:
‘I wanted to create something funny, something compassionate. I wanted friendship, bad decisions, muffins, and moaning about a terrible social life. Because there’s a place and time for darkness and grim ruminations, and there’s a place and time for bisexual werebears with killer wardrobes and a soft spot for pastries.’ [Loc 864]