Wednesday, March 15, 2017

ARC Review: Beauty of the Beast by Rachel L. Demeter

Series:     Fairy Tale Retellings #1
Pub. Date:March 15, 2017
Length:342 pages

Beauty of the Beast is an adult retelling of the classic fairytale featuring a likable heroine and tragic hero set in a historical, fictional French village. This is a story to pick up when you are looking for a meandering leisurely romantic tale with rich detail. I sadly have not read the original Beauty and the Beast, so I can't compare this retelling with anything but the Disney movie... something I hope to rectify in the near future.

Isabelle Rose is a lovely young woman, bookish and benign. She had a deep and abiding love for her ailing father, but was exasperated and aggrieved by her selfish stepsisters. In an effort to provide for Isabelle's future, her father has arranged for her marriage to the Vicomte Raphael Dumont, a cruel and overindulgent man. To escape this fate, Isabelle agreed to travel with her father to the annual Merchant's Fair, despite knowing that her father should not travel in his condition. As her father's health declines, they seek refuge in the dark and dreary castle of our hero. I liked Isabelle - and I think that most of us book lovers have a soft spot for bookish characters. She wasn't a complete dishwater miss, she was willing to stand up to our hero, even if I wish she would have been a little more assertive with the antagonists.

Adam Delacroix is the lost Crown Prince of Demrov, thought long dead. When Adam was just a boy, his entire family was murdered during a revolution. In an attempt to rescue his baby sister who was being burned in her crib, Adam himself was severely burned which resulted in horrible and extensive scarring to one side of his body. Twenty-five years later, Adam is reclusive in his shadowy castle with only a former servant as a connection to the outside world. Adam was a sympathetic tortured hero... I can't imagine how lonely and depressing his existence was for more than two decades. I do wish we would have gotten a few glimpses into his life during that time period, but I liked the aspects that we did have for his character.

While I liked both characters individually, I felt a disconnect with the romance and the story in general. I wish more time would have been spent on character development instead of the amount of detail that went into descriptions, inner monologues and fantasies. I was thrown off a couple times by the switch from 3rd person POV to 1st person POV (in dreams mostly)... but for the most part I was just missing some action. Most of the story is Isabelle and Adam in the castle, and without a good character connection, that meandering bit started to drag for me. I would have loved something to pick up the pace a bit.

I thought the antagonists, Raphael and Vivian, were well-crafted with the sufficiently diabolical personalities needed for a good villain. I felt like Raphael's character and his struggles with his father were more developed than our main characters, but it was hard to feel sorry for him given his treatment of Isabelle. Vivian and Isabelle's stepsisters were those females that we love to hate... whiny, spoiled and selfish. Adam's former servant, Sebastien, was also a mild antagonist - but I never really understood his motivations. I didn't really care for his character in all honesty.

Overall this was a nice retelling, just one that you need to read when you have patience and aren't in the mood for action and drama. I recommend it to readers who like a meandering and detailed story, or for those fans of Beauty and the Beast retellings in general.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the author.