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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…

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Before I begin this review, I just want to forewarn potential readers of this book. There are some scenes, particularly at the beginning of the novel, that could possibly be triggering for some people. 

I’m a massive fan of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (both the animated version and the recent live-action remake) so when I saw Rachel L. Demeter’s Beauty of the Beast on Goodreads, I couldn’t resist adding it to my TBR list. It had received numerous four and five star ratings and claimed to be a dark, realistic retelling of a much-loved fairy tale.

There are vast differences between this book and the traditional fairy tale read to children as a bedtime story and I liked this. It lived up to its claim of being darker and more realistic. For one (spoiler alert) Isabelle’s father dies and two, Prince Adam simply isn’t the victim of a passing enchantress; the truth of his past is far more tragic and is interwoven with actual historical fact, adding that dash of realism that makes this tale all the more believable. Rachel L. Demeter, while having written a beautiful novel, demonstrates to us that life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Shit happens but, to quote Adam himself, “You grow stronger. You move forward as best you can. And you learn to endure.”

Beauty of the Beast is one hell of a slow burner but that isn’t a criticism. While I admit there were certain moments where I was like…

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…I appreciate it’s in keeping with the realism. Both Isabelle and Adam have pasts built upon pain and both have scars that go far deeper than the skin. They take their time getting to know one another. Understandably, they’re cautious and because of this, it makes it all the sweeter when we witness their relationship moving to the next seemingly small yet monumental level, perhaps through a warm smile or a gentle caress. Honestly, there’s a scene following one of Adam’s night terrors where Isabelle simply reads to him and lulls him back to sleep and it seriously had me choking up. Her intentions are just so pure; she doesn’t want him to feel scared or alone and Adam reflects these feelings right back at her, helping her come to terms with the loss of her beloved father. These two…man, they are made for each other.

Can I just have a moment to swoon over Adam?

Oh.

My.

God.

Dark and mysterious? Initially a bit of a Byronic hero? Check!

Knows how to play the piano and makes his own music? Yes!

Is a a gentleman in every sense of the word, respecting boundaries and would happily spend three nights mopping a person’s fevered brow as they drifted in and out of consciousness? Can I check this point off my list of ‘Things Jazz looks for in a man’ multiple times? The latter point had me swooning in the kitchen at work, saying to my friend “Why can’t I get a man who would mop my fevered brow for three nights?”

Pretty much vomits poetic verses? Hell yes! Some of the sweet nothings he murmurs in Isabelle’s ear had me like…

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My only real issue with Beauty of the Beast is how I felt Raphael’s disgusting behavior was too often blamed on his father. He’s a grown man in his mid-thirties, capable of making his own decisions. What he does to Isabella is of his own doing and nothing can justify his actions.

All in all, though, an impressive start to Rachel L. Demeter’s Fairy Tale Retellings series!

Rating: 4 out of 5

Song:  Aerosmith’s I don’t want to miss a thing

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This book is available on Amazon in both e-reader and paperback format.

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