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. And as her beauty faded, so did her worth. What does she have left?
World-renown violinist Vincenzo Bellini is at ease with his carefully cultivated reputation of a beastly recluse. After all, the fewer people looking at his hideous scars, the better. Ready to retire, he's trying to hide in Everland, but doesn't count on the townsfolk being so curious... especially a particular bookseller who reminds him of the life he abandoned long ago. Can he teach her that worth isn't tied to their appearances, or will he have to abandon his plans for a future here in Everland?
************************************************ The Brides of Everland, Ever After
Step into Everland, Wyoming, where the people on the street are 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.
This is an Old West style romance, very, VERY loosely based on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, with only the slightest touch of fantasy about it (some unseen fairy godmother group pulling a few strings here and there to get the couple together).
Vincenzio is a blind, disfigured man, a master violinist who is now a recluse in the Wyoming town of Everland. Arabella is a single mother of a ten year old boy, Edward, just trying to make a living. Her second husband (who died not long before the book starts) pounded into her head that she's valuable only for her looks and her poise, and Arabella has become so straitlaced that she has a problem relaxing and letting anyone else see her troubles or weaknesses. Vincenzio wants someone with a cultured voice to read to him a few hours a week, and who better than the nice widow Mrs. Mayor? ... who wants some violin lessons for her son.
One nice twist is that Arabella is not all beauty and Vincenzio is not all beast, at least in their personalities. It's a sweet romance that tugs on your heartstrings, not terribly deep but not brainless either.
The fairy godmother fantasy element is a little out of left field (maybe it would feel more integrated if I'd read other books in the series) but it does explain what would otherwise be a wildly unlikely coincidence. I could see characters from previous books in the series popping up here and there, but this works fine as a standalone read, plus it's FREE! at least for now. ETA: Sorry, now this'll set you back $2.99.
3.5 stars. Recommended for readers who love sweet romances. Others need not bother. :)
I have so much to say about this book I don't know where to begin.
First, I have not used alot of my tags that pertain to this book because it would spoil MAJOR things. So you just have to trust me to say this is safe.. and when you see something as you read this that may be a trigger, just keep going... it won't trigger you. It all works out. I didn't see these twists comming, but some of you may. (I'm kinda gullible).
Now, I'm about to spoil the read. SO STOP HERE if you don't want to know and be surprised.
This story is a take on Beauty and the Beast...sort of...but very unique than other HR's I have read that attempt this.
We have heroine Arabella, who is widowed twice over. Her first husband was her true love, and died in the war, unaware that she was pregnant. She marries again, Milton, who was a decent husband but not a decent father to her son. He was snobby, and valued Arabella's beauty above all else and "trained" her to think of people and things that lacked beauty to be of no worth. When Milton died, Arabella clung to his valus or "rules" and continued to live by them.
Hero Vincenzo, was horribly disfugured in the war when an explosion went off in his face, scarring him, and taking his eyes. His beautiful wife is told he died. He did not want to go back to her looking like a monster..thinking he was doing her a favor by letting her go so she can move on with her life. He has thought about her every single day of his life over the past ten years, and knows he will never love another.
After the war he became a famous violinist and toured Europe, gaining massive wealth, not only due to his talent but because people came from all over to gawk at the disfigured "monster." He seemed to enjoy being on display and horrifying his audience and "charming" women by his appearance. (this is where the author is confusing. she hints at his charming many women, yet he repulsed them. As if to hint that he was a manwhore, yet not, since his past with women is never detailed.. it is unclear, but I choose to think he had not been with any women after his accident)
Why is this important? You probably already guessed.
Anyway, he decides to "retire" to Everland, as a recluse, but it so happens he meets Arabella and employs her to read to him (he is blind), she is in need of money but knowing the hero is a violinist, as was her 1st husband, she decideds to ask him to teach her son to play the violin instead of paying her, so her son can explore his talents that she thinks he may have gotten from his father.
Yadda yadaa.. H & h start falling for each other, the hero takes a liking to her son, and... here it is... the hero soon discovers that Arabella IS his wife, and her son IS HIS! Now he freaks out and feels he has no choice but to leave Everland, leave her AGAIN because he knows she is not the same person he remembers,( and he is not the same man she remembers)she has become someone who only values beauty, and would think him unworthy.
It is a bit complicated.. as you can see.. and I am not doing this story justice. It all makes sense when you read it.
Yes the heroine is a bit shallow, but she does come around. The night before he is ready to hop on a train to CA he sees her and admits to her who he is, and basically calls her out on her shallowness. She realizes it and with a little push from a fairy godmother, goes after him and convinces him to stay.
This was a really good story,with a lot of emotional ups and downs. At first I thought the hero was a widower cause her referred to his wife as Jane.. then he remembers that he's still married when the son asks him to marry his mother Arabella....
Now I'm pissed that he is falling in love with the h when he's still married!
Until the son tells him his mothers first name is Arabella...then the hero realizes who she is and also remembers how his wife's name is Arabella but his nickname he gave to her when they were young was Jane. (He doesn't know her first name for half the book).
So it was great that his love for his wife never faltered, he was just falling in love with her AGAIN, even though he didn't know it was her (he's blind). Not sure how I feel about this nor the fact he plans on leaving her AND his son.
So I was kinda pissed at him for leaving her and kinda upset she had remarried, but she did think he was dead. I got over his wanting to leave her again because he thought he was doing the right thing.
It's all very strange and very different!
Points off for:
"oh poot" - the heroine saying this over and over again drove me insane!
Inconsistency with hero's past during separation of wife..this author has a way of making the reader decide how to take what she writes about it. It's too wishy washy for me..but I'd rather that then have been told he slept around, I prefer no details, and I prefer to believe he was celibate.
I wish it was longer, had some sexy times, and I wish they told the boy that he was his father before the books end.
I also didn't like that they couldn't be who they once were at heart, I wanted her to call him Edward, and he to call her Jane, and go back to they way they were. (you'll understand this when you read it).
Hero-He married the h when they were young and I believe they were both virgins. Heroine-Married H when young (see above) but remarried after mourning hero's "death" but never loved her second husband. The hero was her only true love. Cheating-No IMHO (See above and above review regarding hero) Adultery-Not intentionally since the h thought her husband was dead Violence-No Rape=No Sex-No Marriage/baby-They already are and have a son HEA/ILY-yes
I try to express only my most honest opinion in a spoiler-free way. Unfortunately, there is still always a risk of slight spoilers despite my best efforts. If you feel something in my review is a spoiler please let me know. Thank you.
Arabella has been taught by her late husband three rules. Be beautiful, be proper, don't share shameful secrets. To her beauty is worth, because this is what her husband has always told her. But then Vincenzo enters her and her son's life things change. He is not beautiful. He is horribly disfigured, and he's not proper but quite rude to her in the beginning. He hires her to read to him because he is blind. They develop a friendship that if they let it, could be more.
Likes: ~Beauty and the beast retelling ~Romantic
Dislikes: ~Insta-love that doesn't even make sense
So this is another romance in the Everland series. I do enjoy these books. They are short and sweet. The insta-love can get on my nerves sometimes though. I'm usually able to look past it decently enough, and rarely does it affect my reading. But this time was the exception. After talking to her for about 5 minutes and then her reading to him for a short bit. He was already apparently thinking about her all the time and dreaming of her. He's blind so it can't even be an instant attraction sort of thing. It makes no sense and annoys. The only defining thing that could have caught his attention in any way would have been her perfume which reminded him of his last wife.
Outside of the crazy insta-love. It was a sweet sort of story. This is the second book of the series where the MC was disabled in some way. It's nice when they aren't super hot and perfect all the time. Would be nice to see some more romances like that. Maybe where the female MC isn't a great and unique beauty, or is heavy set, or has some form of disablity. Just saying.
Book starts out with the heroine and her 10 year old son moving from their rooms, above the bookstore she works in, to a storage size room below so that she could rent out the rooms above to another couple so she could get some income to help with expenses.
Hero and his manservant move into town and are mysterious so everyone wants to know everything about them. The town doctor pays a visit to them and in their discussion, the hero mentions that because he's blind, he's looking for someone who can read to him. The doctor suggests the heroine because she runs the local library/bookstore in town because he's heard rumors that she needs financial help.
Hero agrees and soon afterwards, the heroine comes by for the initial meeting. When she arrives, he's playing his violin and she cries because the music is so beautiful, just like how her late husband Edward used to play. She decides that she's not going to take payment in money but that she wants to work out a bargain: She'll read to the hero whenever he needs her to if he'll teach her son to play the violin as well as he does. Again, the hero agrees.
Nothing much beyond that happens, she reads to him, he teaches her son to play the violin and weeks go by. Then comes the day that he invites her and her son to a picnic "as friends." It's there that the little boy asks the hero to marry his mother because they're all getting along and the couple who was going to rent out their rooms had to back out so now there's no income coming in for them. Hero says he can't marry her because they're just friends and (thinking to himself, that he's still married to his Jane) that he doesn't even know the heroine's first name. The son says "It's Arabella" and the hero almost falls over because even though he called his wife "Jane" her real name was Arabella. But this is a common name, no?
He questions the son about their life and realize that the heroine is actually his wife from 10 years ago. The wife he left after he lost his eyes in the war when she and their family assumed he was killed. He left because he was now scarred and blinded and he didn't want her to be around him. So he made a life for himself as a violinist where he changed his name and traveled the world playing for important people. Not knowing that when he went to war, the heroine found out she was pregnant with their child.
So we're supposed to believe in 10 years, they both didn't recognize the other when they met again? That childhood sweethearts didn't recognize each other? Yes, the hero was blind but he didn't recognize her voice? Or she didn't recognize him because he had a beard? She had "feelings" when he'd play the violin and it would remind her of her late husband but she never thought to look beyond the surface? And he recognized the honeysuckle scent his "Jane" always wore but it went no further than that?
A puzzling read to say the least.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Where to start??? This was the first book I've read from this author. I received this book in my litcube box. I honestly don't know how or why everyone likes this book and have it such high ratings. if I could give it a thumbs down or less then 1 star rating I would... The book was Boring, Predictable, It was NOT A retelling of beauty and the beast. The only thing in common were the names and the fact that she was "beautiful" and he was blind and disfigured which made him "ugly". I found it repetitive, she kept complaining that she used to be beautiful while now that she's older her beauty faded. For one, just because you get older does not mean your beauty has to fade, your confidence maybe, but not your actual beauty or worth, so I think this sends a bad message, also just because someone is blind or disfigured doesn't mean they have to be ugly. So, for me personally I found this message wrong all the way around. Now, onto predictability, I knew and called what happened before I even got very far into the book. The ending was very predictable. It was a short story, and I know it's supposed to be "western" which it did not feel western, she kept saying "oh poot " which drove me crazy, could she not have thought of anything else to say? Darn, Dang, Heck, anything but STOP repeting yourself..... The fairy God mothers seemed to just be thrown in there and didn't really go with the story, it was very rushed towards the end. The "Sex" scenes weren't real Sex scenes but they also were not censored if that makes sense? I feel they wouldn't be appropriate for a young adult but at the same time they didn't go into a lot of detail, they were just kind of stuck in limbo.... There was also a " Sex scene " Where he made a comment of something along the line of him thinking of her being with a man, saying she must have been or something that imply it, and of course we know she was because she had a child.. I did not like this book one bit, I will not be reading anymore from this author. I seen other people make a comment that it was " harlequin" like, which it is far from. I read and love harlequins, it was nothing like this book and wouldn't compare them at all... With all that being said I really disliked this book, don't waste your time.
In a word: uninspired. Taking classic fairy tales and transplanting them into reimagined settings is hardly new, and while this romance novel is competently written, it simply has nothing new or original or even interesting to offer, nor does it even bear much similarity to its inspiration: Beauty and the Beast. What drew my eye to this book in the first place is that it purported to be a love story with a disfigured protagonist. I really enjoy reading about people who exist outside of society's norms, and how they live their day to day lives among the judgment of their peers. Unfortunately, this book only decided to deal with just enough of the disfigurement angle to make it into a minor issue. We're told constantly, beaten over the head with it, really, that Vincenzo is disgusting, horrible, a beast, but the extent of his injuries amounts to blindness and scarring traveling up the side of his face. In every other way, he is a perfect man: sensitive, intelligent, musically talented, handsome, muscular. Similarly, we are constantly beaten over the head with Arabella's prim properness. Get ready to hear the words "appearance and propriety" repeated a lot in relation to her. And so, these two uninteresting romance stereotypes have a stereotypical romance with unrealistic motivations, ridiculous logical jumps, and a plot so thin and predictable you can see where it's going from a nautical mile. Romance fans might enjoy this comforting predictability, but I don't. Instead I see a simplistic, unimaginative book that refuses to take chances and actually do something with its own premise beyond window dressing. I won't be reading any of Caroline Lee's works again.
I could only take listening to Arabella whine about how worthless she was because she wasn't beautiful anymore so many times. Also her idea that she was "old" when she was barely past thirty--yep, you're a crone, get in the grave already.
I know her attitudes are meant to be warped by her second husband and his impossible standards, I get it. But it's tiresome to watch her vague attempts to unlearn those attitudes, and I'm not sure she actually succeeds all that well. It's weird that the one thing I actually truly liked about this was the way the second-chance romance ending played out: you're not the same person you were when I loved you then, but neither am I, and we fell in love again as who we are now. Honestly, I think that's beautiful, and something the second-chance-romance sub-genre could take to heart. But as lovely as that sentiment is, I don't feel like it's attached to a story line that deserves it. There's not much conflict aside from Arabella's and Vincenzo's prejudices about beauty and its relative worth; the external conflict amounts to some easily ignored nonsense about small-town propriety. It's shallow, unsubtle, and ultimately a poor reimagination of Beauty and the Beast.
I absolutely loved this book!! I feel that it was the best one yet in the Everland series. I won't repeat the blurb, as it's been done in other reviews. As a widow myself, this was an emotional roller coaster ride for me. I could identify in part with Arabella and her struggle to make ends meet and her feelings of lost love. Her meeting and interactions with the "Beast" proved very entertaining. If you believe in magic and second chances, then this book is for you. I shed happy tears at the end.
The best book I have read this year. The emotions it caused makes it all the better, especially the last chapter . Love torn apart by a war, to later be reunited is just amazing . It's the first one in the series that I have read but I will be starting at the beginning so I can fall in love with more in this town .
This was an adult retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Very interesting twists and turns to this story line. The Characters had depth and the story was so different and interesting. This is in no way a fairy tale but more of a Western Romance with some sexual innuendo. There is no sex but talk of it.
I wish I could live in Everland. *sigh* Doesn't everyone want their happily ever after? This particular book in the series is based on the tale of Beauty and the Beast while making it feel true to life. it was like a Disney movie for adults.
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.
This was a fun book, the Beauty and the Beast concept never gets old. I liked both of the main characters, although it did feel weird that at the beginning Vincenzo was made out to be kind of rude and morbid and the like, but then for the rest of the book, with Arabella, he was perfectly fine.
I think this book could have been far better had it been longer. It would have given the chance for more world building, character building and just altogether making the book feel more well rounded. I really liked the "twist" in this and the fact that Arabella had these Rules and standards that she lived by due to her second marriage. The whole beauty thing was made out to be a massive part of the book at the end, but we didn't really see it in action. Sure, she was always thinking about said Rules but they were never really seen to have any effect on anything that happened.
This is a very interesting retelling of a fairy tale but modernized and adjusted for a more adult read. While the conclusion is just what it should be, Ms. Lee does a circuitous route in getting the reader there. Give it a read, you won't be disappointed. I'm looking forward to her next effort.
This novel's quality caught me by surprise. I'd added it to my library on a whim. I don't usually choose American west romances. But, only a few chapters in, the story of these two unlikely, but very likable, characters completely engrossed me. Everland, Wyoming, an obviously fictional town, apparently has a near magical quality and contains a delightful cast of side characters, such as a woman named Snow White 😊 and a doctor who never went to medical school. A heartwarming read with a lesson for all who undervalue themselves.
There is something special about the boom town of Everland. Author Caroline Lee has populated the community with characters straight out of the fairy tale books but given them a distinctly American spin. You won’t find cursed princes or magical talking housewares in this story, but if you look closely you may see a little magic at work in Beauty: An Everland Ever After Tale.
The gossips of Everland are all clamoring to discover more about the mysterious stranger who has settled there. The large home on the outskirts of town shows that their new neighbor is a man of means but he’s been quite reticent to welcome anyone who has tried to meet him. The only thing they know about Signore Bellini is of his fame as a concert violinist and rumors of his beastly appearance.
Unfortunately Arabella Mayor has no time to discuss the curiosities of the newest townsperson. She is barely making ends meet after her second husband’s death left her alone to raise her son and work the bookshop in town. As Arabella’s resources have dwindled she’s had to make many sacrifices and is now at the point of renting out her own apartments above the store to bring in more money. Of course none of her friends are aware of her circumstances as it would break the rules of decorum her late husband all but drilled into her head. The appearance of success and a beautiful family was all that he desired from her, and to survive her marriage for her son’s benefit Arabella adopted those desires as her own.
I admit that when I saw this in my Lit-Cube, I was skeptical. I just didn't see how the author could pull off a historical romance with a fairy-tale twist in an Old West town. It just sounded like a recipe for disaster.
Well, I will admit, I was wrong.
Yes, it was cheesy and fluffy, and I called the plot twist half-way through, but you know what? I still enjoyed the hell out of this book. It was cute and made me smile. Which is just really want I needed tonight.
Some minor quibbles: The Beauty and the Beast retelling was less a retelling and more loosely based on. So if you came in expecting a full-blown retelling, this isn't it. I also felt that the Guild of Godmothers came out of nowhere, and didn't really add much, if anything. It felt a bit shoehorned in to give the book a fantasy feel, and just didn't fit. The characterizations were a bit shallow and I would have liked a bit more depth to the characters.
But still a quick and fun read. I'll have to check out the rest in the series.
I am just crazy about Everland. It is not at all difficult for me to remember that the stories are very loosely based on fairytales, but I just love the old west, the small-town feel, and the air of magic! So it’s not a hard stretch that I fell in love with Vincenzo and Arabella at all. They are both very flawed characters, he—flawed physically after an explosion, she—flawed in the way she sees herself & views others. He was running away from prying eyes, and she was trying to live by silly rules that value beauty and appearance over true worth. Somehow they managed to teach each other about what is really valuable, and along the way they see each other with new eyes. Love the faithful servant Gordy & sweet, sassy little Eddie, & the important roles they play in helping our lovebirds overcome the obstacles of their own creation.
I had the great honor of reading this book before its release, and I can gladly say that I enjoyed it. This is an ingenious retelling of the old, classic Beauty and the Beast, tale.
The story had depth, intrigue, and a twist I didn't see coming -- but LOVED!
If I have on complaint about the story, I have to say that I really didn't like the heroine through the first part of the story (before the critical point). She was shallow, and I wanted to punch her in the face. Thankfully, she cleaned up her act and changed her ways.
I highly recommend this story to people who love a great fairy tale, especially ones set in the West.
January 2018 book selection for Book Brigade: a romance-specific book club, run by an avid reader.
Beauty and the Beast meet in Everland, Wyoming. Caroline Lee is a talented fantasy writer intertwining our favorite fairy tales with history. This is my favorite Everland Ever After Tale crafting a tale about supposed widowed book store owner Arabella with a blind disfigured civil war soldier recluse. I always enjoy a book or tale within a story. The book Arabella reads to the blind recluse is Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad, my favorite. I enjoyed the twists and turns, the hint of magic from the Guild of Godmothers and the happily ever after ending.
I loved this novel. I didn't want to put it down. The writing was compelling, the characters were intriguing and engaging, and the story was a creative take on a beloved classic. I found myself immersed in the story, and the emotions leapt off of the pages into my very being. As other reviewers have mentioned, there is a twist in the story that took me by surprise. The concept of a world of fairy tale characters living in Wyoming in the late 1800s was unique and masterfully done. I will definitely be reading more from Caroline Lee.
Good story. Kind of fun to see the fairytale theme throughout a historical fiction style book. I enjoyed the environment of the book and how the author created a town that embodied the fairy tales. It was also fun to meet characters that will feature in upcoming books.
I also liked that the characters pushed through difficult situations and how their choices in the past, though painful and detrimental didn't end up harming their future together, but instead helped each other.
I loved this Beauty and the Beast retelling. There were times I couldn't tell who was the beauty and who was the Beast. The only complaint I have is that there was some sensual scenes. There was no explicit sex, but mentions of it and it made me nervous I was going to have to stop reading. I don't think the story needed that. It was beautiful and interesting on its own.
I liked this story but the ending seemed rushed and a lot of questions not answered. Also a few sexual descriptions not needed. (No sex scenes but thoughts running through his head). If the ending wasn't rushed then I would give an extra star.
This story is a very classic example of a novella format hamstringing an intriguing story concept that needed the space of a full-length novel to actually become something more meaningful. However, because of the shortened length, it can be distilled into this one trope: man takes a woman's choices away because of his own manpain, and she instantly forgives him.
** HEAVY SPOILERS BELOW **
This is not to say the pain that the hero went through in getting his injuries wasn't valid, nor the trauma he experienced. But this all comes at the expense of the heroine's ability to choose her future. The hero, in this case, received some gruesome injuries during the Civil War. Instead of giving the heroine the choice as to whether or not to accept those injuries and the subsequent care of him, he lets her think he is dead for 10 years. Not only that, but she winds up committing accidental bigamy in the process - something that is not in this heroine's makeup at all.
There are so many hints tossed at us of a deeper plot: exploring exactly why the heroine chose to marry someone who shoved her into a mold, her truly breaking free from that brainwashing, having to deal with all the inner turmoil that comes from not only finding her first husband was still alive but that she was a bigamist for nearly a decade. There is vague glossing over the fact that her life is profoundly changed at multiple aspects by the actions of men on her behalf, without her agency.
Even at the end of the story, to provide that magical fairy tale ending, Arabella's agency is stripped away from her by the "godmothers" who sent her a letter. Arabella has no choice at this point but to accept the fact that the hero, who I can't stand, put her through emotional and financial hell and instantly forgive him so the three of them can be a happy, traditional family.
There is so much potential here that is wasted, because we do not even begin to have Arabella fight for her own agency. She is pushed from situation into situation into situation until she accepts that things will be hunky dory after reuniting with her thought-dead husband. Y'know, without having to deal with her internal trauma of bigamy. We get pages dedicated to the hero's emotional pain and trauma, but hers is centered around "what do I do for money" or "I am no longer beautiful because I am 33." Valid points, but then we reach the bigger trauma: "why did my husband not respect me enough to tell me he is alive?" or "how can I reconcile the fact that I was illegally married to another man for years when it is against my beliefs?" or "how do I tell our child that his father chose to run away instead of us facing his pain together?" or "I had both my husbands make all the decisions in my life, it is time to make my own decisions." Or in both their cases, "how do we navigate intimacy because of all the changes in our lives?" And none of this is addressed, because the story just ends.
If you are looking for a very sweet, clean romance and are able to suspend your disbelief, then you'll really enjoy this story. I think this needed the space of a novel, the emotional messiness of intimacy, for it to reach its full potential.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I can't say I didn't enjoy the story. It was nice to read something I knew, from the beginning, would end up turning out exactly the way I expected it to. That's the kind of romance I was in the mood for, and that's exactly what I got. The best part was the ending, and it even brought a few tears to my eyes. But the rest of it dragged a bit. My favorite characters were Eddie and Rajah and the manservant, Gordy. I didn't think Vincenzo was gruff enough to warrant being the beast to the story's beauty. It took little to no time for him to soften to her. And Arabella whined about looks and position so much you'd never know she was just a bookstore proprietor. It got to be annoying every time she brought it up. The fact that she put so much weight on her beauty, or lack thereof in her opinion, was presumptuous, to say the least. She spoke of being independent but was dependent on others telling her how beautiful she was. I would have thought that her husband not having her under his thumb with all of his rules would have been more freeing. For two people who had been married to each other not to recognize anything about each other made me wonder if they'd ever looked deeply into each other's eyes before this story, never had long talks where they listened to each other's voices, their inflections, the way they spoke or how they expressed themselves. It truly made me wonder how superficial their previous relationship had been.
I also would have liked to know more about the town, more of the details of their surroundings and its residents, and the true nature of the characters instead of the superficiality. But I have to give the author credit for the last couple of chapters. They were the best part of the book and made wading through the rest worth it. I love a happy ending.
Besides the trouble with the dragging storyline, there were serious problems with the editing. There were missing and misspelled words. The punctuation was difficult for me to get by. There was so much of it that it made many of the sentences sound stilted and choppy while other sentences were missing necessary punctuation. This is why an author should never skimp on an editor, proofreader, Betas, and ARC readers. They are the ones who tighten up the story.
If a reader doesn't mind a story that doesn't dive too deeply, this was a good read. If you're looking for something with a bit more depth, then you're likely to be disappointed. I enjoyed it because I knew by the other reviews just want I was getting into and needed something light. It was an easy one-day read. I have other books by this author, even in this series, but I'll probably save them for another occasion when I'm looking for just such a read.
It was a fun romp through a new telling of an old fairy tale. I enjoyed the characters mostly. But the "Beast's" story was a little too forced in my opinion and a very important detail for a musician was never addressed. Other than that, it was cute and a great fluffy Sunday read in front of the fireplace. I liked a some of the little details of the book shop, and the tea set, and the other fairy tale characters that are part of the town. Even the magic "help" at the end. It isn't one I'll ever read again and I'm not going to run out and pick up all the others in the series but if I run across them on Kindle Unlimited I might give them a go.