Cassandra Khaw – Bearly a Lady

Zelda McCartney (almost) has it all: a badass superhero name, an awesome vampire roommate, and her dream job at a glossy fashion magazine (plus the clothes to prove it).

The only issue in Zelda’s almost-perfect life? The uncontrollable need to transform into a werebear once a month.

Just when Zelda thinks things are finally turning around and she lands a hot date with Jake, her high school crush and alpha werewolf of Kensington, life gets complicated. Zelda receives an unusual work assignment from her fashionable boss: play bodyguard for devilishly charming fae nobleman Benedict (incidentally, her boss’s nephew) for two weeks. Will Zelda be able to resist his charms long enough to get together with Jake? And will she want to?

Because true love might have been waiting around the corner the whole time in the form of Janine, Zelda’s long-time crush and colleague.

What’s a werebear to do?

Cassandra Khaw’s Bearly a Lady is the 3rd publication in the Book Smugglers’ Novella Initiative. It looked amazing and the blurb —with its Devil Wears Prada meets Bridget Jones meets Teenwolf vibe with bonus Fae — made it sound like it would be just too much fun! And the blurb absolutely delivered. This book reminded me so much of the late nineties/early oughts chick lit I loved and provided me with the same happy feelings at the end of the book that they did. And like many of the books I loved at the time, Bearly a Lady hides some crunch amid the fluff. 

I loved Zelda and her roommate Zora. There is an unconditionality to their friendship, that allows for a lot of good-natured ribbing, that has some actual bite to it, without it leading to a crisis between them. Khaw created a fun mix of well-known tropes and new twists upon them for both her were-creatures and vampires, which all come out through the interactions between Zelda and Zora.

The third supernatural addition to Khaw’s world are the Fae, who both are and aren’t exactly what you expect them to be. When Zelda is assigned to be Benedict’s — “just Benedict” — personal bodyguard, we are introduced to him as everything we’d expect the Fae to be: beautiful, glamorous, perfect, and powerful. But Zelda quickly sees through this facade and I really liked how she takes charge of the situation and turns it to her advantage.

What made the romance element in Bearly a Lady so delightful was the bi representation, which as awesome. There is no hand-wringing about Zelda’s sexuality, but more about who she likes the most. Zelda is out and comfortable in her sexual identity, even if she is sometimes a little startled at her own desires and her expressing those out loud.

Bearly a Lady was a complete and utter treat, one that left me craving more: more of this world and more of Zelda. Fingers crossed that Cassandra Khaw will take us back there in the near future.

This novella was provided for review by the publisher.