A faded matron and a blinded musician... but which is the Beauty and which is the Beast?
Twice-widowed Arabella Mayor has made a place for herself and her son in Everland, selling and lending her beloved books to other bibliophiles in the sweet town. But she's running out of money, and ten-year-old Eddie is giving her fits, and their future is uncertain. Re-marriage might have once been an option, but Arabella knows she's past her prime, and isn't the Beauty she used to be...
World-renown violinist Vincenzo Bellini is at ease with his carefully cultivated reputation of a beastly recluse. After all, the fewer people looking at the hideous scars he received during the war, the better. Ready to retire, he's trying to hide in Everland, but doesn't count on the townsfolk being so curious... especially a particularly persistent bookseller who reminds him of the life he abandoned long ago...
Step into Everland, Wyoming, where the people on the street are often more than what they appear, and there's just a hint of magic in the air. From evil villains to mysterious godmothers, handsome cowboys to hidden princesses... welcome to Everland, Ever After.
And so The Beauty and the Beast readathon continues!! I picked up another one from my TBR pile, Beauty by Caroline Lee was in my LitCube from October I think? I can’t remember exactly, but since it was called a Beauty and the Beast retelling I was most eager to give it a read. Though what I found was somehow lacking, sadly.
It’s not to say that it was a bad book, it wasn’t, I just felt like it needed more. There was hardly any conflict really. The only problem that really existed that both of the characters had their reasons why they shouldn’t love the other. To me, that’s not really conflict, just relationship drama. But the story world itself was rather interesting.
Set in the 1800s in a town called Everland, Wyoming we have a quaint little setup. There are other fairy tale characters wandering around, but I don’t think it’s necessarily meant to be a fairy tale world explicitly. For instant, Arabella was rather chummy with a stepmother named Meri who apparently gets her own story in another book. Having dived into a book 3 in a series that’s more worldly focus, I can easily say you won’t get lost by doing this. Things that happened before really have no impact on Arabella’s story, you’ll just know who ends up with who! Really you get to know all this when you check out the series listing in the front of the book!
But the story goes in a way that we all know. A beauty falls in love with a beast. Except this time, Beauty is a widow in her thirties with a son to care for from her first husband and her second husband had past away some time ago. Then in moves in a retired musician who is claimed to be hideously scarred and blind. When this “beast” Vincenzo comes to Arabella asking for her to read to him (for she owns her own bookshop!) she is all too readily accept. She is in dire need of the money, but instead asks for the musician to perhaps teach her son how to play the violin, for it was a favorite pastime of her first husband whom she loved since their childhood.
And as one might imagine, sparks start to fly between Arabella and Vincenzo, though both of them feel like there’s too much between them that would prevent any kind of happily ever after. And that is basically where any and all conflict lies. I just wanted more! Something more sinister or annoying that had to be fought in order for our couple to find happiness with one another. But instead, nada! No evil villain, no curse, no Enchantresses, there was truly nothing standing in their way but their own self-doubts.
There was a surprising twist that came along that you can probably guess. It took me a double take to really grasp it, I will admit! Mostly from other outside distractions while I was reading this one! Whoops! But as we all know, fairy tales tend to end a certain way…I mean even the Grimm Brothers ended them in this way for the princesses for the most part! At least there aren’t any that come to mind where said princess meets a more fearful fate!
While this one was a rather quick read and a pretty different take on a beloved classic, I felt like it was truly lacking some greater conflict that our heroes needed to overcome. And it was a bit too short too for my liking, I guess that’s why there was no greater conflict. If you’re looking to expand on your fairy tale retellings this is definitely one that’s different, I mean come on Beauty has a KID!, this is one you might want to look into. But I sadly can’t say it was an instant favorite.
Overall Rating 2.5/5 stars