Willow’s Review of Beauty’s Beast by Amanda Ashley

Beauty's-Beast-Amanda-Ashley

Today I’m thrilled to be a part of the virtual book tour for Amanda Ashley’s Beauty’s Beast hosted by Tasty Book Tours! I’d also like to than the publisher, Kensington Books, for providing me a copy of the novel for an honest review. To see the full list of all the bloggers involved, please click on the banner above. =^.^=

Beauty's BeastRating: paw4

Publisher: Kensington – Zebra

Date Released: September 2, 2014

Goodreads Description:

Beauty

Fair of face and figure, Kristine is young, innocent, pure. Yet she has been condemned to the gallows for killing a man. The only one who can save her is a lord so infamous that some say he is the son of the Devil himself…

And the Beast

Erik Trevayne is called the Demon Lord of Hawksbridge Castle, but few know of the curse he lives under. Or the terrifying changes slowly gnawing away at his humanity. When he weds her, all he wants of Kristine is a son. But when he beds her, a wild hope is born—that love that can tame even the most monstrous of beasts…

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Review:

 Here at What the Cat Read, we love a good retelling of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. We also enjoy retellings of The Phantom of the Opera, too. So imagine my joy when I discovered that Ashley’s book has elements of both between its bindings! Yup, I got two for one with this novel, and while there were a few things that kept me from absolutely loving the story, I still enjoyed enough of it to give it four paws. Honestly, Ashley has a great book here which I think fans of paranormal romance, fairy tale retellings, and those just looking for a fun read will enjoy. =^.^=

So first things first, I absolutely loved Ashley’s take on Beauty and the Beast, and mixing in elements of Phantom was a genius move, whether intentional or not. Erik and Kristine…I do so love those names. But it isn’t just names that Ashley took from Phantom, it was also Erik’s mask: black silk which covers one half of his face and a portion of the other side. Yeah, okay, so she’s not a soprano and he’s not a mad genius who kidnaps her into his underground lair, the names and mask were enough to make me happy. Add in the impulse on Kristine’s part of see what is beneath the mask and some dialogue between them which feels like it came from Phantom and I consider it a win. As for the Beauty and Beast spin, placing Erik under a spell which slowly causes him to change into a beast made me even more sympathetic to him than I’ve been to the beast in previous adaptations. And given that he really doesn’t deserve the curse to begin with and that he can’t break it by simply finding someone to love him in return like in the original fairy tale, well, let’s just say that this was definitely a unique way of approaching things.

I liked Kristine. She’s strong, determined, doesn’t hesitate to fight for her safety or her desires, and generally struck me as being easy to relate to. Yeah, she’s seventeen and I can understand those folks who had issues with her being that young, but I do tend to look at age as being a state of mind and once upon a time, seventeen would not have been considered inappropriate for what happens to her in this story. Erik is a brooding, secretive, tortured man who in my opinion didn’t deserve the curse his mother-in-law placed upon him. I felt for him in this book and hated that he didn’t feel like he could turn to anyone for compassion or understanding. On the other paw, I really got tired of his continually bemoaning his fate, and that was more the fault of Ashley rather than Erik. If I were in his shoes I’d probably be upset every time I caught a glimpse of myself and realized how much had changed so quickly. Still, it would have been nice to see more fire in him, more effort on his part to put up a fight rather than just give in and slowly let it happen.

The romance between both characters was interesting. It was slow to develop and I liked that when it truly formed it wasn’t in your face and over the top. Erik’s request that Kristine not touch him lent those moments they were together a sense of mystery and sensuality. Now, I’ll admit that I wasn’t overly thrilled with Erik’s original reason for marrying Kristine, but again, I can overlook it and accept it on grounds that at one point in time stuff like this was common. The fact that they did eventually find love between them also holds true for their type of relationship. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a historical romance, but there are elements of it here and I’m okay with that.

So what didn’t I enjoy about the book? Well first off there was a lot of bouncing between character perspective within scenes. One minute you’d be in Kristine’s head and the next you are looking through Erik’s eyes. I get that this is an acceptable style of writing, but I personally do not enjoy sudden “head hopping.” It makes it hard for me to shift gears when I’m immersed in one character’s point of view only to suddenly find myself in the other…it’s very jarring and I don’t like it.

Another issue that I had was the ending which was way too simple and unsatisfying. I probably would have given this 4 paws and a tail wave of appreciation had it not been for the ending. I don’t want to say what happens because that would be spoiling things, and I really do feel that readers should give this book a try, but I do feel that it is necessary to say that the ending was rather anticlimactic. Ashley does a great job of writing a great many suspenseful scenes, but the moment that that talent really should have shown, it wasn’t there. I’m not saying that I have a problem with Happily Ever After endings, I don’t, but I do have an issue with simple solutions to a problem and antagonistic characters. I got to the end and promptly asked “What the…Did I really just read that?” Sigh, so much potential, and yet such a let down.

The last problem that I had was the werewolves. Seriously, why go to the trouble of introducing a pack of werewolves if you aren’t intending to do anything with them? All the other characters served a purpose in the story, though I still question the need to bring in a white wizard on top of everything else, but the werewolves really didn’t serve a purpose. Okay, you could argue that they are there to comfort Erik and provide him with the knowledge that he doesn’t have to be alone once the curse complete, but given that they are working to find a way to break the spell, I don’t understand why they needed to be included in the first place. Unless there is the hope of a story spinning off from this that involves them later, the book could have been just fine without them.

Regardless of these issues, Beauty’s Beast is an intriguing read and probably one of the most unique retellings of my favorite fairy tale that I’ve read this year. I really do feel that readers would enjoy this book and I’m curious to see if Ashley intends to make a series out of this, either by writing about the various characters in this book or by simply continuing to write fairy tale adaptations set in the world she’s created in this book. She definitely leaves room to go either way if she so desired.

Excerpt-Banner

The rattle of the guard’s keys roused her from a troubled sleep. She bolted upright, fearing that it was morning and they had come to take her to the block. Stomach churning with fear, she stared at the guard, blinking against the light of the lamp.
“That’s her,” the guard said. He stepped into the cell and lifted the lamp higher. “Stand up, girl. His lordship wants to see yer face.”
She had learned long ago to do as she was told, and to do it quickly. Hardly daring to breathe, she scrambled to her feet.
It was then that she saw him, a dark shape that looked like death itself shrouded in a long black woolen cloak. The garment fell in deep folds from his broad shoulders to brush the tops of his black leather boots. The hood of the cloak was pulled low, hiding his face from her view. Black kidskin gloves covered his hands. He stood there, tall, regal, and frightening.
“Her name’s Kristine,” the guard remarked. “Don’t recall her family name.”
The hooded man nodded and made a circling motion with his forefinger.
“Turn around, girl,” the guard demanded brusquely.
She did as the guard asked, her cheeks flushing with shame as she felt the hooded man’s gaze move over her. She was barefoot and filthy. What was left of her hair was dirty and crawling with lice. Her dress, once the color of fresh cream, was badly stained, the hem torn. And worst of all, she smelled bad.
She heard a faint noise, like the rustle of dry paper, and realized the stranger had asked the guard a question.
“Just turned seventeen,” the guard replied with a leer.
She heard the rasp of the hooded man’s voice again and then he turned away, melting into the shadows beyond her cell.
The guard followed him, pausing at the door to look back over his shoulder. “This be yer lucky day, girl. Seems his lordship has taken a fancy to ye.”
“I don’t understand.”
“He just bought yer freedom.”
Kristine staggered back, overcome by a wave of dizzying relief. She wasn’t going to die.
“He’ll be comin’ by to fetch ye tomorrow night.”
Coming for her. Tomorrow night. Relief turned to trepidation. “What…what does he want with me?”
The guard threw back his head and barked a laugh. “He says he’s going ta marry ye.”
“Marry me!” Kristine stared at the guard in shock.
“Aye.”
“But…he doesn’t even know me.”
The guard shrugged. “What does it matter?”
Why would a stranger want to marry her? And why did she care, if it would get her out of this terrible place with her head still on her shoulders? “Can you tell me his name?”
“Why, don’t you know? That’s his lordship, Erik Trevayne.”
Stunned, Kristine stared at the guard. She would rather lose her head that very night than become the wife of the infamous Lord Trevayne. A beheading, at least, would be swiftly and mercifully over. “And he wants to marry me? Are you sure?”
“Aye, girl. It seems a fittin’ match. A murderin’ wench bein’ wed to the Demon Lord of Hawksbridge Castle.”

About the Author:

Amanda AshleyAmanda Ashley is one of those rare birds—a California native. She’s lived in Southern California her whole life and, except for the earthquakes, she loves it. She shares a home with her husband, as well as an adorable Pomeranian named Lady, a wild house sparrow named Tweety, and a tortoise who remains nameless. Amanda and her alter ego, Madeline, have written 60 books. Not bad for someone who started writing just for the fun of it. Her books regularly appear on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.

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***Giveaway***

Kensington is providing three lucky winners a copy of Beauty’s Beast in paperback! To be entered, simply click on the rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c8430/

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Posted on September 8, 2014, in Book Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Willow’s Review of Beauty’s Beast by Amanda Ashley.

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