Beauty and the Beast
by K.M. Shea
Timeless Fairy Tales 1
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?
I’ve been a sucker for Beauty and the Beast retellings since before the Disney animation came out–my favorite book is Robin McKinley’s Beauty. I’ll usually snag them when they come up on Kindle Unlimited, but somehow this one slipped through the cracks… which was a shame. It has its flaws, but it reminded me more of McKinley than Disney, which is always a bonus. (I say this as someone who saw the Disney animation nine times in the theater, too.)
Elle was an interesting character with a bit of a mystery behind her. (It was easy enough to pick apart, but the effort was there.) She had a generosity of spirit that I found myself particularly enjoying, especially played off of the taciturn Severin. He was more stoic than grumpy, with a quiet kindness toward his staff that was endearing.
The staff as a whole was also endearing, with a range of personalities that were still all prone to meddling. I usually find meddling off-putting, but they were so transparent and puppy-ish about it that I couldn’t even be irritated.
(Lucien was still a bit of a twit, though.)
There were a few quirks in the story that I wasn’t particularly wild about, like the staff’s reactions after the curse was broken. The enchantress’s reappearance was also a little pat for me; I would’ve preferred to see things resolved in another way. Otherwise, it was a light, pleasant tale.
The quibbles I had with it might have been enough to knock a star off, but… this book just made me happy. And isn’t that what really matters?
tl;dr A light retelling with some new twists is worth a shot at happiness.