Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Judith Ivory - Beast

American heiress Louise Vandermeer has agreed to marry a European aristocrat. Her intended is rumored to be a hideously ugly man, a prospect that propels her into a reckless shipboard affair with a compelling stranger she never sees in the light of day. Unbeknownst to Louise, her mystery man is actually her betrothed, Charles d'Harcourt, whose romantic prank backfires when he becomes smitten with his own fiancee.

Comment: I've had my eye on this book for years because I've heard it was a version of Beauty and the Beast and that is my favorite Disney fairytale, therefore I feel curious about books with that theme and also because I've read another book by the author, which I liked and I wanted to get that idea again. Sadly, that didn't happen.

This is the story of Charles Harcourt, a wealthy aristocrat french lord that has interests in perfumes and fragrances and so on and after letters exchanged with a prosper American businessman, he decides to marry that man's daughter without having seen her before.
Trying to get an idea of his unknown fiancé, he travels in the same ship as her family does and what he learns isn't positive as Louise seems vain and not interested in him. He decides to play a joke on her by seducing her and seeing how far would she go. However, the two of them fall in love and Charles doesn't know how to fix things when do meet officially and marry. Will they be happy?

My answer to the question above is pretty much the reflex of my overall opinion and lack of interest in the story: who cares?
I felt disappointed in this story because it's almost idiotic how things progressed and I can't find any similarity in terms of narrative between this book and the one I've read before by the author, which was much better in any level.
This book has one of the themes, or is based on one of the themes I like the most but there's nothing remotely connected to the Beauty and the Beast idea except the heroine is considered gorgeous and the hero less so. Then the plot is one of the silliest in romance, I thought.

Basically, he story develops as such: hero hears heroine doesn't consider him a good party or someone she would like to married to because she heard he didn't look handsome and thought that a given fact. Hero then decides to play a game with heroine and prove to her attraction can exist without physical eye contact, which is absurd because he does see her that way. The best way to play a prank is to pretend to be someone else, never reveal his face and seduce his fiancé. When she obviously gives in, he thinks he should feel superior to have gained the upper hand with a 18 year old girl who appears to be vain and without much personality. However, in their little game - of which she has no clue - he falls in love with her and feel bad by having deceived her so what does he think to do? He will disappear as her unknown lover, be her husband and make her feel for him the same way she felt about the man in the ship where all this happened.

I feel really surprised this can be considered a love story because although the idea has some interest,, namely the not revealing who he is immediately, I can't go past the notion he was deceiving her on purpose for silly and selfish reasons!
Everything is even worse because, in reality, I don't even like the heroine, she's vain, silly, immature and nothing in her ways of thought, personality or attitudes made me care about her. Not to mention how easily she let herself be seduced, even if she thought she was "in love".

Overall, I consider this book silly. The characters, both the 18 year old and the 30 something hero behaved like children and I can't imagine how one can enjoy reading about such childish behavior and attitudes. I don't care about these characters, nor the challenges they face to be happy. It was all their doing, after all!
The personal characterization, their personalities and bond didn't appeal to me as romance reader, because I don't think they changed or grown or improved themselves by knowing the other or falling in love, nor did they get a new perspective of life and feelings because of that.

There's a HEA, there is a future to look for on their horizon and that's fine but I feel disappointed in the author's attempt to make this more important or special than what it really is by using the Beauty and Beast concept.
I think this isn't a good love story, the plot is silly, the characters not strong enough to be engaging and charismatic. The end is a mess and I was just eager to finish at that point.
One or two scenes are interesting enough but everything considered, this wasn't an appealing book to me.
I can understand why it works for some people and why many readers have enjoyed it, but I like some seriousness in my books, some notion of reality even in comedies. This was just silly.
Grade: 4/10


  1. I've read once and again that Judith Ivory is considered one of the writers that has produced the most literally ambitious books in the romance genre. Last year I wanted to give her a try as I was ashamed I hadn't read anything written by her. So I tried 'Beast'. I DNF'd it. I was so disappointed... I guess I'll try to end it in the future, but I see I'm not the only one seeing nothing attractive in this story. You some it up perfctly: who cares? I wasn't interested in the characters or in the slow development of the story.

    1. Hi!
      Thank you for commenting.
      Yes, this one was such a letdown! But try The proposition..I think it will give you another perspective on the author's voice.