Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Review: Beauty and the Beast by K.M. Shea

Beauty and the Beast by K.M. Shea
Series: Timeless Fairy Tales #1
Genre: Retelling/Romance/Fantasy
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Once upon a time Elle made a mistake. A small miscalculation sends her through the roof of an enchanted chateau. Stranded until her broken leg mends, Elle is unwillingly forced to rely on the good will of the sour chateau owner —the cursed Prince Severin.

Prince Severin—the commanding general and staunch supporter of his brother the crown prince—is cursed to look like a beast until a maiden falls in love with him. He has given up all hope of shattering the curse, and has only disdain for Elle.

Unfortunately, the pair can’t seem to avoid each other thanks to the meddling of the chateau’s cursed servants. Eventually Elle’s playful manners and Severin’s hidden gentleness draw the pair together.

But not all love stories can end that easily. After all, Elle is not what she seems, and Severin’s life is placed in danger when hostilities flare between his brother and the monarchs of a neighboring country. When Elle risks everything to save Severin, will he be able to forgive her for her lies?

Loving a person isn't a magical, sparkly passion. It's hard work. It's putting the other person before yourself. It's companionship and being able to trust and depend on each other.

This book is so much fun. I love Beauty and the Beast retellings, even for as problematic as they can be. (Stockholm Syndrome, much?) But this book is one of my favorites. Everything about it is just so perfect.

"I will master this method of transportation! I am the captain of crutches - no, the commander!"

Elle is a unique 'Beauty.' She's not described as particularly pretty, and I got to admit, I love the change over the 'gorgeous Beauty' that usually crops up in these stories. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ;) Also, she's quite quirky. She's a lot more gregarious and much less bookish than usual for these characters. But, beyond that, she's a wonderful girl. She's brave and compassionate and she's got a great sense of humor.

"I thought all maidens were supposed to have an almost magical way with animals."

Severin is no where near as 'beastly' as the Beast usually is. I love the author's take on him. Sure, he's got the cursed appearance (very cat-like) but his personality is merely quiet. He can be a bit abrasive, but he's not a jerk and it's so wonderful to see that. He's actually, a total sweetheart and it doesn't take long for that side of his personality to crop up. (And once it does, it never quite goes away.)

Once again, for K.M. Shea's writing, the supporting cast is brilliant! (I reviewed Red Rope of Fate and thought the exact same thing, after all!)

"Severin, I've told you before, if people think you're better than me, so be it. You are my brother. I will not stand for you giving yourself a shadow of a life because you won't forgive yourself for being illegitimate."

I love the fact that Severin and his half-brother - the crown prince - actually get along. Sure, there's some disagreements, but I half expected them to never talk and half expected them to hate each other. So it's wonderful to see two half-brothers that are so different have such a solid relationship.

Emele and Burke appeared to be congratulating each other. They didn't even try hiding their smug smiles, and ignored Severin and Elle.

I also loved all the servants in the castle. They're cursed too, and it's so awesome the way the curse on the servants was handled. They are mute and wear half masks over their faces. But they are all so great. They're so vibrant and active that it's pretty easy to get used to the fact that they don't talk. Even coming from someone like me that loves dialog-heavy books. And, I adored how right from the start they're trying to throw Elle and Severin together. (I love matchmaking servants.)

The take on Beauty and the Beast is great! This book gives Elle so much more agency than is usual for Beauty and the Beast stories. I'm not going to give spoilers, but suffice to say that Elle does not offer herself to Severin in exchange for her father. She doesn't enter his house in the position of a servant. I love it! She was also never even slightly abused. At all. (I'm so used to the more unpleasant aspects of this tale that this makes me nearly giddy.)

There is also a pretty heavy hint to Sleeping Beauty's tale - which means that this series all takes place in the same world! Yay! (Course, I don't think Sleeping Beauty is one of the tales, yet, but this is just awesome!)

And it even brings up a pretty good point from the story and various retellings that doesn't make much sense but that I honestly never even noticed.

"But I would not think it would be very easy to fall in love when one is in self-exile in an abandoned chateau."

Seriously, what is up with that? (There's reasons! Seriously!)

All in all, I love this book so much. Everything about it is wonderful and I'll definitely be reading more in this series. (Possibly before this even goes live.)

Physical desire is a lie. It is not a bad thing, but it blinds a person and makes them unable to see truth. Falling in love is a matter of the heart, not of the exterior.