Category: Fairytale

His Beauty by Sofia Tate

His Beauty by Sofia TateHis Beauty by Sofia Tate
Published by Forever (Grand Central Publishing) on May 8th 2018
Pages: 171
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three-stars

She never should have come here. Twice a week, Lily Moore comes to work for me, stealing my breath with her light and beauty and sweetness. She doesn't know the dangerous path she's on. All she knows is that I am a reclusive artist living on a crumbling estate. That I am scarred, broken by life. A beast . . .

Lily ignites a hunger unlike anything I've known, one that could shatter the isolated world I live in. Even as I see the same longing for me in her oh-so-blue eyes, I know she belongs to another---one who does not deserve her. But it's just a matter of time before the tension between us breaks. For this beast will have what he desires. To hell with the consequences. This is my world . . . and I will claim my beauty.

Sucker for fairytale retellings that I am (I can’t ever get enough), I dove into ‘His Beauty’ for what’s probably my favourite tale of all time.

What I’ve always enjoyed isn’t just the meeting of the beauty and the beast, but also the differing contexts and backgrounds (be it a contemporary or a historical spin on the fairytale) in which they meet. ‘His Beauty’ starts out slow, detailing the circumstances under which Lily finds herself at Grayson’s door, painting a picture of the life she leads—a life that’s about to drastically change when she takes on a cleaning job at a recluse’s mansion.

If Disney’s version revolves around books and reading, Sofia Tate’s subject matter here is art. Her characters, which are more mellowed versions of a beauty and beast who don’t go through the same jagged highs and lows that seem par for the course. Instead, ‘His Beauty’ is more slow-going, with a burn that starts from friendship as Lily spends half the story with a fiancé, and while getting a little too…sensitive and emotional when it comes to Grayson (read: fretting and weepy).

I didn’t quite get the angst, or the sharp yearning from both sides that I normally associate with this fairytale; instead, I got increasingly frustrated when Lily kept resolutely wanting to continue with her jerk of her boyfriend to others, thus putting the relationship-development with Grayson on hold.

Consequently, as their attraction comes to a boil only much later in the book, it didn’t feel as though there was a sufficient build-up of the both of them, and I was actually thrown off when the more explicit scenes (and the vocabulary associated with them) came in from almost nowhere after Lily’s fiancé was finally out of the way.

As far as retellings go, if you prefer a slower-paced, less angsty version (with a teeny, teeny bit of suspense), ‘His Beauty’ is one to shelve. There’s an almost-disney-certified HEA, where all’s right with the world, but it’s not quite a ‘yay’ from me, sadly.

three-stars

Burn For You by J.T. Geissinger

Burn For You by J.T. GeissingerBurn for You by J.T. Geissinger
Series: Slow Burn #1
Published by Montlake Romance on October 17th 2017
Pages: 348
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four-stars

The marriage is fake. But for a sassy chef and an arrogant billionaire, the sparks are real…

Jackson “The Beast” Boudreaux is rich, gorgeous, and unbelievably rude to the staff at Chef Bianca Hardwick’s New Orleans restaurant. Bianca would sooner douse herself in hot sauce than cook for Jackson again, but when he asks her to cater his fund-raiser, Bianca can’t refuse, knowing the cash will help pay her mother’s medical bills. Then Jackson makes another outrageous request: Marry me. The unconventional offer includes an enormous sum—money Bianca desperately needs, even if it does come with a contract—and a stunning ring.

The heir to a family bourbon dynasty, Jackson knows the rumors swirling around him. The truth is even darker. Still, he needs a wife to secure his inheritance, and free-spirited, sassy Bianca would play the part beautifully. Soon, though, their simple business deal evolves into an emotional intimacy he’s built walls to avoid.

As the passion heats up between them, Bianca and Jackson struggle to define which feelings are real and which are for show. Is falling for your fake fiancé the best happy ending…or a recipe for disaster?

J.T. Geissinger is an author whose name and books have crossed my feed a fair bit, though I’ve never gotten around to reading any of her works, so ‘Burn for You’ is a fresh start for me. And what an introduction it was.

There can never be enough fairy tale retellings for me—the raunchier the better, the funnier the more cherished and the dirtier, the more I fall to my knees in worship. Geissinger’s ‘Burn For You’ fits all of these categories quite comfortably, so needless to say, I had a good time going through this incredibly spirited Southern version of beauty and the beast.

The enemies-to-lovers trope is one of my favourites, so when ‘Burn For You’ started out with the unbridled antagonism, I simply sat back, waited for the claws to get unsheathed and the knives to start flying. The first chapter didn’t disappoint in its explosive introduction to the battling protagonists, as the very distinctive voice of Bianca Hardwick—filled with that kind of wry, sarcastic humour I love—made Jackson Boudreaux out to be the untamable, hairy devil-beast with the appearance and temper to match. Their locking horns was enjoyable as hell, though I wasn’t disappointed when we moved past that and into the harder bits that slayed me the moment Jackson’s tortured past was revealed.

Written with some ‘historical’ romance kind of flair, a mad amount of slang, and buoyed by a tinge of melodrama, ‘Burn For You’ did go a little weirdly hysterical towards the end, with some over-the-top clichés that had me cringing a bit. Still, I went happily along for the ride—that much invested I was in the story by then—and decided immediately by the end that Geissinger would be on the ‘authors-I sniff’ list.

four-stars

Beauty of the Beast by Rachel L. Demeter

Beauty of the Beast by Rachel L. DemeterBeauty of the Beast by Rachel L. Demeter
Series: Fairy Tale Retellings #1
Published by Rachel L. Demeter on March 15th 2017
Pages: 342
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three-stars

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST
Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.
A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE
Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Of all the fairytale retellings, the Beauty and the Beast ranks as one of my favourites, which is why I pounced on ‘Beauty of the Beast’, which frankly, feels more like Phantom of the Opera than Disney’s happy version of it.

A deeply-scarred prince, a tragic past, his talent with music…and his search for redemption after 25 long years comes in the form of a not-too innocent woman (thankfully) whom he credits for turning him back from beast to man, even though his physical appearance never changes. By and large however, there isn’t much deviation from Disney’s version as is there some borrowing from the best book I’ve ever read on the [book:Phantom|190507], with a huge (and maybe unnecessary) amount of descriptive prose that pits his suffering against Isabelle’s otherworldly goodness and beauty.

Or maybe I’ve just become a cynical witch in my reading career.

Don’t get me wrong though. It’s not a bad retelling at all – I particularly liked the gritty, edgy bits and the steamy scenes that escape the sanitised version – but the purple prose got to me at times. There’s no enchantress or curse, no rose petal that falls before love is declared, yet there are multiple and heartfelt confessions of love once both Adam and Isabelle get over his scars. The moral of the story is that love still looks beyond the physical and from then on, it’s a matter of straightening the path for their HEA after taking care of the tiresome aristocrat with dad and mum issues. The story nonetheless kept me up late, and though not quite enough for a hangover, it’s still something, right?

three-stars

Don’t Speak by Katy Regnery

Don’t Speak by Katy RegneryDon't Speak by Katy Regnery
Published by Katharine Gilliam Regnery on February 27th 2017
Pages: 318
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four-stars

A fisherman’s daughter.

The governor’s son.

Two very different worlds.

In this modern retelling of The Little Mermaid, a fisherman’s daughter from an Outer Banks island untouched by time, meets the son of North Carolina’s governor at a fancy party where she’s working.

Laire, who wants so much more from life than her little island can offer, is swept away by wealthy, sophisticated Erik, who is, in turn, entranced by her naiveté and charm. The two spend a whirlwind summer together that ends on the knife-point of heartbreak and forces them to go their separate ways.

Years later, when fate leads them back to one another, they will discover the terrifying depth of the secrets they kept from each other, and learn that shattered hearts can only be healed by a love that willfully refuses to die.

Fairytale adaptations have always enraptured me although the quality of retellings have always been varied. And of the numerous adaptations, I’ve almost never read a contemporary retelling of ‘The Little Mermaid’, which made ‘Don’t speak’ immediately a mesmerising standout because it was so different.

Katy Regnery blends the tropes quite seamlessly in a way that makes it the entire tale believable somehow: two contrasting protagonists, quite literally from different worlds with archetypical wicked-parents, yet with the earthy, intense flavour of young love that slips into hate and pain before the HEA that drops rather suddenly. Yet Regnery’s writing is lofty as well, with the elevated, descriptive purple prose that distances her book from the typical NA read as Erik and Laire are fashioned into stylised characters who fall into instant-love. There’s a lot of naïveté present written into them as well too – whether by choice remains unclear – and perhaps never seen more in Laire, whose constant sobbing and inability to stand up for Erik when it mattered most got on my nerves at times.

It’s the secret-baby issue here, that perhaps downed the reading experience for me and the lagging pace that had me struggling to turn the pages. Even though Erik/Laire were kept apart by circumstances beyond their control, I always felt as though Erik was the one who constantly tried to build bridges as Laire wallowed in her islander thinking…until she was forced out of the Banks. Coincidence, or serendipity, is the only thing that brings them back together and their rushed reunion – and tearful confessions that pledged forever love despite the thorny issues that led to a 6-year separation – precipitates a sudden number of events that leads to the rather rushed ending.

That said though, ‘Don’t Speak’ is undoubtedly a memorably read despite its faults, and pretty much one that left me on the verge of a book hangover.

four-stars

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Winter by Marissa MeyerWinter by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles,
Published by Feiwel and Friends on November 10th 2015
Pages: 824
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four-stars

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.
Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.
Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

This is quite literally, one of the hardest books I’ve ever read, in length, content and narrative. At 600+ pages, I took days to go through it, putting it down when the action and the plot got a little too much, wondering at every turn how the bleak darkness that had somehow crept into this series and when the previous books had sort of ended with a hopeful beat. But in a revolution, there’s always a heavy price to pay and pay them, they did, with a price so heavy that I was actually left horrified when by the time the final battle was over. I was overwhelmed at the amount of violence and bloodshed and the not-quite so happy endings that I thought each ‘fairytale’ couple would have, and this alone aligns ‘Winter’ much closer to the grim(m) morality tales that the fairytales had been in their original forms. Nonetheless, it’s a very good series overall, by Marissa Meyer, even as my heart is still left bleeding out.

four-stars

Beauty and the Boss by Diane Alberts

Beauty and the Boss by Diane AlbertsBeauty and the Boss by Diane Alberts
Series: Modern Fairytales #1
Published by Macmillan on November 16th 2015
Pages: 225
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two-stars

Beauty is about to tame her beast...
Researcher Maggie Donovan has no luck with men, and it doesn't help that she can't keep her eyes off of her sexy boss – the one everyone else in the office calls The Beast. Relationships in the office are forbidden. So no one is more surprised than Maggie when she pretends to be his fiancée to save him during a difficult situation. Not only has she put her job on the line, but the future of the company.
Billionaire Benjamin Gale III doesn’t believe in love or romance, but the look on his mother’s face when Maggie tells her that she’s his fiancée is worth millions. Instead of firing her for her insubordination, he goes along with the ruse. In his arms–and in his bed–she’d be everything he could ever want...which is why he can’t have her.
But if he doesn’t let her go, they’ll lose everything...

Fairy tales are tricky things; adapting and reworking them and not turning archetypes into clichés is an even trickier task. Beauty and the Boss is one such book – a mismash of several tales with the very popular use of role reversal: Maggie is both Belle and Cinderella at the ball while her aloof, closed-off boss Benjamin is the grumpy beast, the prince as well as the masculine version of Cinderella with the wicked stepmother – who is probably better known as the witch. But even padded with the familiar tropes of contemporary life, Maggie and Benjamin stayed better as flat-ish clichés rather than the mythical archetypes in the fairytales themselves, with personalities that just aren’t compelling (with some wild swings in mood) to leap off the book for me. By the time the epilogue swung around, I found myself cringing at the effusive and rather unbelievable outpouring of emotion, and wondering if Cinderella/the prince and Belle/Beast are better confined to where they should be by the end of their story – long faded off into their personal sunsets.

two-stars

Beauty and the Bachelor by Naima Simone

Beauty and the Bachelor by Naima SimoneBeauty and the Bachelor (Bachelor Auction, #1) by Naima Simone
Series: Bachelor Auction #1
Published by Entangled: Indulgence on August 10th 2015
Pages: 236
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four-stars

She may be the highest bidder, but this bachelor's price is blackmail and passion...Billionaire Lucas Oliver is hell bent on revenge. And his plan begins when Sydney Blake-the stunning daughter of his enemy-is tricked into bidding on Lucas at a bachelor auction. Then he serves up a little blackmail...followed by a marriage proposal Sydney has no choice but to accept.
Sydney has been controlled by her family her whole life. When Lucas threatens to reveal her father's shady business, she is once again forced to do her duty for her family. But worse-oh so much worse-is the rush of lust that Lucas ignites in her blood. Lucas is determined to make Sydney suffer, but it's tough when he can't keep from touching her-or thinking about touching her-all the time. She's not fairing much better since she's engaged to a darkly handsome beast intent on destroying her entire family...along with her heart.

Yet another twist in the Beauty and Beast tale, with corporate blackmail and high-flying reputations at stake in this modern version of it. And it all starts with blackmail, a web of lies and a woman who cannot say no to a man who’s feral in the elite business ranks and is out for revenge that’s 15 years in the making.

Lucas aka The Beast, has very little going for him, to be honest. Driven by revenge, consumed by it and letting its fire burn all those around him, it seems his turnaround in the last 5 pages is too easily earned and unbelievably shallow. But Sydney is on the other hand, such a heroine to remember – vulnerable yet dignified and incisively perceptive with a self-sacrificing mien so wide that it threatens to destroy her. Caught between a rock and a hard place, she earned my utmost admiration with the way she handled every manoeuvre with Lucas’s unreasonable blackmail.

Naima Simone’s flowing prose, as always, cuts to the heart of human emotions, peeling them raw for the reader with the sheer power of words, which is primarily the reason why I’m always drawn to her writing, even if some characters appeal less than others.

four-stars