Title: Beauty in the Beast
Author: Christine Danse
Page Count: 328 KB
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: paranormal romance, steampunk-esque
Copy for review obtained via NetGalley in anticipation of an honest review
Journeying by steam-powered sled to London's Frost Fair to perform, Tara and three friends are trapped in a blizzard in the woods. A gruff, handsome stranger offers them shelter—and wants one thing in return. Stories.
The travellers are glad to oblige. Their host, Rolph, is especially captivated by Tara's story of an orphaned girl raised by the Fae in the world of the spirits. Equally intrigued by Rolph, and aware of an electric pull between them, Tara encourages him to share a story of his own. When Rolph weaves a tale of a man who is doomed by his own folly to turn into a wolf at the full moon, Tara suspects there is more than a grain of truth in his words.
When the veil between the mortal and spiritual worlds is parted, and danger threatens, will Tara make the ultimate sacrifice to save Rolph?
I do love me some Beauty and the Beast retellings, and this was one of the more creative ones I've come across lately. Instead of taking the epic fantasy approach with a cast of thousands, this story takes a fantasy/steampunky background layers in a small cast of characters, all storytellers and performers- except for Rolph, our Beast. The story was short and sweet and engaging, and at the end I found that I wanted to read more.
Tara makes a living telling stories at festivals along with her three friends and fellow performers, and when it looks like they're about to be snowed under in the woods on their way to London, they stop at a house in the woods to seek shelter. Rolph agrees, and wants to be paid in stories, since the friends don't have much else that he'd want. So far, the synopsis has covered all the bases.
What the synopsis doesn't really communicate is the lyrical quality of Tara's stories or the attraction that she feels for Rolph, who is a storyteller in his own right. This is a sweet sort of story, and very PG, but you get the feeling that a lot could develop between these two if the opportunity presented itself.
Tara chooses to tell a story that she's never told anyone, and that reveals many things about her. We as readers don't get to see the significance of all that until the very end of the story, and it definitely ramped up the fairy tale quality of the story.
If I had to voice a complaint about this story, it would be that it's just a tad too short to really do justice to the characters and to give them a chance to develop. I would have enjoyed a longer look at Tara and Rolph and would have enjoyed seeing what else happened between them. As it is, the way the story was ended was good enough for me and makes me want to read more by this author.
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