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3.52  ·  Rating details ·  1,936 ratings  ·  217 reviews
The Beauty

An exquisite American heiress, Louise Vandermeer is beautiful, brilliant...and bored—which is why she has agreed to a daring adventure: to travel across the ocean to marry an aristocrat abroad. Rumor has it her intended is a hideous cad—a grim prospect that propels her into a passionate, reckless affair with a compelling stranger she never sees in the light of da
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 1st 1997 by Avon Books
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Average rating 3.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,936 ratings  ·  217 reviews

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Angel Cade
Jun 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
This was THE most annoying book I've read in a freaking, freaking long while! I cannot begin to describe how truly pathetic the story was! I was close to dumping this book and begin another but damn me, why didn't I?

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Let's break the plot down:

A vain, self-centered, apparently insecure, beautiful (so much so that people stop-dead in the middle of the road as she goes by. Sure, there wasn't any traffic back then, remember?) eighteen year old bitch of a girl has been set to married to
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Beast by Judith Ivory is one of my two all-time favorite romance books and also simply one of the best books I have ever read. When I read books or watch movies, afterwards I have a certain feel for them, a textural sensation. Beast has left me with one of the richest, most voluptuous "feels" ever.
The story is set around the turn of the 20th century. The first half of the book takes place on the ocean liner Concordia; the second half takes place in Provence, France.
The plot is fairly simple. I
Fani *loves angst*
When you keep wishing your husband who's been abroad for 3 days will delay coming home at least 3 or 4 hours more so you can manage to finish the book, you know the book's a keeper. If anyone told me two days ago that I would come to love a book by Ivory whose book The Proposition was a huge disappointment for me, I would have laughed at them; yet here I am. This book not only turned a keeper, but one of my top 20 books ever.

This book had everything: witty dialogues, clever humor, a wicked, sexy
Jacqueline J
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jacqueline J by: Lovers of historical romance
Very nice Edwardian romance. The hero, Charles, was quite different and most of the book was written from his POV. He was scarred and hyper aware of it but rather than secluding himself and brooding about it, he instead made himself confident (at least on the surface) and flamboyant and vain. He starts his incognito relationship with the heroine, his fiance whom he's never met, out of pricked pride.

The heroine, Louise, is 18 and for once was written as an 18 year old. She is polished and refine
Jun 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: victorian-era
This is my first Judith Ivory book I’ve picked up and although it started off great, for me it fell short in the end.

The Good
Because of my love for the start of the book I thought I break it down between the good points on the book and the bad points.

The beginning was wonderful with Charles setting out to prove that looks are not everything, teaching a lesson to Louise. I didn’t care for Louise at the start, but slowly she blooms into a mature woman, someone trying to find her way and herself
This had the potential of being stupendous but the ludicrous plot and unlikable ice queen heroine ruined it entirely. I'm really annoyed because I had this sitting on my bookshelf for over a year and looking forward to reading it for so long. I originally wanted to give this an extra star but there was honestly nothing I enjoyed about this. The first half of the story dragged out unbearably slow where the hero devises an idiotic scheme to seduce his unsuspecting young soon-to-be-bride as someone ...more
Preeti ♥︎ (Romance She Reads)
A very tender, passionate, delightful and intimate look at a relationship…with all the inherent failings and follies.

Only if you are able to forgive the mcs of this book their utter stupidities, will you enjoy their story. And there is much to like and love here – just as there are things that may put you off. The mixed and extreme reviews are understandable but I, for one loved both the mcs (or were they three of them?), their exchanges, the push-pull and the multi-layered story.

The American
4.5 stars
This is truly amazing - when a book makes you feel such a range of emotions and sensations. The way Ms. Ivory writes is very sensual - she appeals to all of the senses, especially smell in this one. How is that possible? Well, it starts out because the hero, Charles, is in the business to make perfumes - or grows the key ingredients for them like lavender and jasmine. The descriptions are beautiful and clear - I really felt like I could smell them! Much of the story takes places on a sh
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, 3-5-stars

3.5 stars

A delicious take on the beauty and the beast trope (view spoiler). Ivory very capably gives us Charles Harcourt. I loved his inner dialogue and how his character is laid out with his strengths and insecurities and how the devious Charles was hoist by his own petard. Also liked where she took Louise and how the story evolved. I felt her love, grief, anger, puzzlement.

I quite willing suspended be
Jane Stewart
Good plot, but lacking in development.

I liked the overall plot. Charles a French aristocrat has one blind eye and limps due to a bad knee. (He’s the beast.) Louise’s American parents are wealthy and arrange a marriage between Charles and Louise. Charles seduces Louise in the dark on a ship. They continue seeing each other but only in the dark. She does not know he is her fiancé. When the ship docks in France, she discovers her lover left the ship without saying goodbye. She pines for
3.5 stars
I am sad that I am almost done with her books, when her book were good they were amazing, unique, with characters who had flaws, when her books were bad, they were the worst. This one kind of falls in the middle, I would have rated it higher had the whole double identity not bogged down the last half and gone on way too long. I did like how the book was unapologetic about how vain and immature the heroine was, after all she was 18 and not like most books where heroines just melt over th
Jen (The Starry-Eyed Revue)
What a completely different spin on the traditional BatB story! And oh the charade the hero finds himself in because of wounded pride. I really enjoyed the writing, though I did favor the first half over the second due to the secrets and lack of communication between the characters. And the narrator for this book was fabulous. I liked this book so much more than expected and immediately downloaded all of the author's books that were available in the Audible Romance Package.
This starts off with the hero doing the wife of an acquaintance. It lost me already there. I'm uninterested in reading about this type of cheaters. What followed was even more infantile, never mind that Charles was supposed to being an adult. I really dislike the "boys will be boys" excuse. For anything.

No thanks. And people call this a romance...

Jeffe Kennedy
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read. I'd never read it before, and I can see why it's so beloved. It has all the emotional energy and erotic power of the Old Skool romances. Ivory evoked the turn of the century feel with such vividness that I felt as if I were reading a contemporary novel. The world is very immediate and real. That said, I felt like the second half spun out too long. I tired of Louise's angst and Charles' waffling. The pair of them from the ship were so much better - freer, more themse ...more
Mary B.
I can't say enough about how much I adore this author's style, and particularly this book. She really gets inside her characters heads and writes from that perspective - a true talent that is so rare among writers. This story was particularly heart-wrenching at times, while simultaneously being tragically funny. Charles's pain from inadvertently placing himself in such an impossible position. Louise's desperate need to be seen for who she is (by herself, especially), and to be recognized as more ...more
Wicked Incognito Now
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-special
Oy. I don't know what else to say right now because this novel DESTROYED me and I'm a puddle of goo.

But seriously? I think I'll go with--perfection. For the time being. Until I calm down and wipe myself up off the floor.
Mar 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Actual rating: 3.5 stars.

I really wanted to love this book, the plot was there it just lacked development. There were some good lines of dialogue and the sexy bits were very well done, but in the end that was all there was to it. I just couldn't love this book as I so wanted to.

First: (view spoiler)

Alexis Hall
Discussed this on AAR with Elisabeth Lane.

AJH: So, Elisabeth: broad impressions. How’d you find it?

Elisabeth: I was blown away by this book. It’s unconventional in pretty much all the ways. And I think sometimes the danger of that is that the romance can get lost. But it’s also, I thought, incredibly romantic. You have this anonymous shipboard romance in the first half and then this marriage-in-trouble romance in the second half and the two pieces still manage to work well together to create an
Michelle [Helen Geek]
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone - great story.
Recommended to Michelle by: Searock & Mary B.
08/01/2013 --

Overall Rating = 4 Stars
Book Cover / Book Blurb / Book Title = 4 / 2 / 5 = 3.5 Stars
Writer’s Voice = 4 Stars
Character Development = 4 Stars
Story Appreciation = 3.5 Stars
Worth the Chili = 5 Stars [$5.99 on Amazon ... classic]

Searock, a friend of mine, has this on a shelf marked "gorgeous". Mary B. recently read and rated this book 5 Stars. She wrote a lovely review stating, "I can't say enough about how much I adore this author's style, and particularly this book. She really gets ins
Kagama-the Literaturevixen
The premise seemed interesting...but failed on so many levels

I might be ignorant on how society worked at the beginning of the 20th century...but why on earth would supposedly wealthy and high class parents write a letter saying basically "OMG youre so rich! You should totally marry our daughter!" Im paraphrasing of course but thats essentially what it says.

On to the rest of the review

So much was made of the heroines age (18)that it felt obscene,with the narrative harping on and on about her ado
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Ivory creates an effect that lasts in this retelling of a classic fairytale.

Synopsis: Louise Vandermeer, a young, beautiful, and sometimes shallow heiress is searching for a way to learn about herself and the world. Lost, without direction, and bored by life, Louise agrees to marry a man of her parents choosing, though she isn't above a bit of light flirtation on her trans-Atlantic travel. Scarred by a childhood illness, Charles d'Harcourt is successful, ambitious, and vain--despite his unusual
Apr 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star
Again, another arranged marriage. A disappointing one. I think I need to a stop on this arranged-marriage-addiction of mine.

Beast was basically about two vain people, Louise Vandermeer who is on her way to meet her fiance and Charles d'Harcourt who was in the ship with his mistress (I forgot her name, but whatever). Charles decided to play a prank on Louise, but he fell head over heels in love with his fiancee. The two decided to meet in secret at night and had an affair. Little did Louise know
Reread on November 24, 2016:

I really enjoyed this a second time around! The emotions were portrayed really well. I empathized with Charles a lot, and Louise's conflict was well written. Seriously. Judith Ivory is a writer.

Original review:

Judith Ivory knows how to write.

Which I appreciate, since that's not a common feature all romance authors share.

She explores emotions with excellent prose, evoking all sorts of sensory feelings. She can also craft a love scene. :P This woman is good.

Oct 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: horrible
I tried. I truly tried. I got as far as the first page of part three and remembered I had better things to do then internally scream at a whiny child. Louise is probably on my top ten most annoying heroines. She griped about how her beauty was such a curse in every page. I was okay with it for the first few chapters and then it just began to get horrible. Then theres Charles, he wasn't so bad. In fact I liked him. He pointed out that she was a spoiled brat and basically told her. Then again the ...more
Dec 19, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A book with A on AAR, I was sure I enjoy. Except that I did not like the hero nor heroine.

Him, as if it were a joke, decides to seduce his betrothed during the transatlantic travel, taking advantage of a lights' failure so as not to reveal himself.

She, has no qualms about taking a lover just before her wedding, because she was told that her betrothed is ugly, and because she does not know him and therefore do not feel compelled to be faithful.

"Beautiful" spirit both of them, they're both as bad
Jun 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: besotted-hero
This book had me giggling and smiley at the H/H's antics, then the book changed and with it my adoration of the heroine. 70 pages from the end, after much teeth grinding, I gave it up.

I dunno what happened really, how I could go from absolutely loving everything about the book, to hating the heroine, to being disgruntled with the author's writing, thinking the hero an idiot for loving the b*itchy, shrewish heroine.... And so, I could only give this book 3 stars mostly due to the spoiled, superfi
I DNF after 10% purely because this is not the kind of B&B theme book that I'm looking for. I like my Beast to be have at least some of the following traits:


However, the Beast in this book was having an affair with a married woman in the beginning of the book and he seemed pretty easy going. Honestly, I don't care about his debauchery, but this is hardly the Beast that I visualize. So, no go for me.

I assure that my comment does not reflect the quality of
Lady Wesley
Judith Ivory is an excellent writer of beautiful prose. But the plot of this book didn't please me nearly as much as the prose. I was highly skeptical of the lovers-in-the-dark plot, which however, she pulled off quite convincingly. But once the ship docked and the lovers "met" one another for real, I was just impatient to get to the reveal. And that comes very late in the book.

I'm glad that I read this, but I have no desire to reread some day. And I learned more than I ever wanted to know about
May 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
*sigh* Her books always leave me with a big smile on my face. The writing is sublime, the story enchanting.
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Around the Year i...: Beast, by Judith Ivory 1 16 Dec 26, 2015 07:31PM  

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Judith Ivory "accidentally" acquired two degrees in mathematics, then sold her first novel in 1987 and closed up the math books for good. She lives in Miami Florida, with her two children, two cats and a dog.

"Judith Ivory" is the pseudonym of author Judy Cuevas (real name).

The pseudonym was first used by her after publication of her last book as "Judy Cuevas," in 1996 - Dance. Her first book, Star
“What irony. This great ship that carried all their fates upon her steel and rivets sailed like a compeer under him, half-blind with a limp.” 0 likes
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