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3.98  ·  Rating details ·  179 ratings  ·  52 reviews
An m/m World War II-era retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

During a chance summer shower, an English country parson takes refuge in a country house. The house seems deserted, yet the table is laid with a sumptuous banquet such as the parson has not seen since before war rationing.

Unnerved by the uncanny house, he flees, but stops to pluck a single perfect rose from the ga
Kindle Edition, 121 pages
Published May 5th 2018
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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  179 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Francesca Forrest
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
(This review duplicates what's in this Dreamwidth entry.)

Briarley retells the story of Beauty and the Beast, imagining what might happen if Beauty’s father was man enough not to let his daughter sacrifice herself for him. Instead, he stays in her place.

In this retelling, it’s World War II, and the father is a parson who’s also a veteran of the Great War, and the beast takes the form of a dragon.

You know this is going to be a different type of retelling by the parson’s initial reaction to the dr
Camilla Monk
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just completely unexpected. Aster Glenn Gray re-imagines the eternal tale of the Beauty and the Beast in the countryside of warn-torn 1940 England. Is it corny at times? Obviously, as one expects. But it's mostly the smart, insightful, bittersweet and funny journey of a solitary dragon and the no-nonsense parson he kidnaps, and who won't trade his daughter's life for his. So the Parson stays, worms his way into the dragon's tiny, isolated world, and it's just pure pleasure to see them debate of ...more
I'm going to put Briarley up there with the most original retellings of "Beauty and the Beast" I've read, because of the setting and the pairing as much as for the plot.

It's set in the English countryside during World War II, and despite the location sparing them from the most severe hardships of it, the war isn't absent from the story. It's there in the rationing, in the necessity for the young ones to go to the frontlines to fight or to nurse, and in the aerial dogfights betweeen the Luftwaffe
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-book, favorites
A retelling of Beauty and the Beast where the beast is a dragon and the traveller a village parson who refuses to trade his daughter's freedom for his own? Where he stays with the beast himself and they have discussions on the nature of love and its varying forms? And also it's set in England during World War II? Clearly, I must read this immediately.

I am here to tell you that it is every bit as delightful as I'd hoped. The fairytale tone is charming without being twee, Briarley Hall has just th
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
OK, so Beauty and the Beast, but the dad doesn't sell out his daughter. And the beast is a dragon. And it's WWII, so you gotta fight some Nazis.

I don't know what else to tell you. This rules.
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beauty and the Beast retellings always attract my attention, however full of questionable morals the original tale was. Remove the Stockholm Syndrome part and give the story a fresh twist and you'll have an enthusiastic reader in me.
This was the case for Briarley. The twist was in the setting (England during WWII) and in the protagonists (an older man instead of a young girl as the Beast's "captive") - and it worked perfectly well. The romance was a slow-burn, and I loved the book's touches of h
The romance part of it wasn't convincing, AT ALL!
Rene Sears
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
I picked up Briarley on a whim--I think I saw a rec on twitter about retold fairy tales?--and oh, am I glad I did. This is an absolutely lovely WWII retelling of Beauty and the Beast. A parson with an injured leg from WWI takes shelter from a storm in what appears to be an abandoned manor house. When the rain clears, he picks a rose to take back to his daughter. But of course, at that moment, the Beast (in this case a dragon/man) swoops in to call him a thief and tell him that the only way he'll ...more
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This fantasy for grownups gives a new twist to a Beauty and the Beast enchantment. Set in England during the WW II German air raids, it concerns a young man called Briarley who in 1840 was turned into a dragon and his staff made invisible because a magical beggar was not treated with kindness. The enchantment is to remain in place for 100 years unless the dragon learns to love and be loved. It is now 1940, and time is almost up. It looks like Briarley, his house, grounds, and servants will all b ...more
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I am not always the quickest to pick up on things. So when I say that it took reading three Beauty and the Beast retellings to realize it's not the retellings I don't like, but the original Beauty and the Beast story, that's not out of character for me.

I just don't like Beauty and the Beast, no matter how supposedly well done it is. Everything bad that happens at the beginning are the character's own faults, and then no one is given any agency for the entire rest of the fairy tale plot. And thi
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Saps who love fairytales
Omg what a surprising DELIGHT!

5 full stars! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I happened upon this book when bookbub sent an email saying see what new book Courtney Milan recommends!

I was expecting a M/F 1800s historical romance not THIS:
-beauty and the beast retelling (with some really unique spins on it. Such as:)
-beast is a dragon
-the servants have their own unique curse and reason for being cursed
-set during..1940s WWII...
-a preacher/parson MC
-said MC is all about his daughter leading her own life and not taking hi
Pam Faste aka Peejakers
Oh! This was really beautiful! And so deeply touching.*sniffles shamelessly*. A particularly lovely take on Beauty and The Beast, with seriously, the best kind of beast ever, and just such an original approach, and choice for the role of the "beauty". It was funny too, and a quiet, companionable kind of love story, as much about friendship & so many other kinds of love as it is about romance. I really love this so much.

Miss Susan
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia
this is a very lovely take on beauty and the beast in which the romance feels sort of...incidental?

like the review that sold me on it didn't even mention this was m/m and having read it i see why, it's funny and thoughtful and talks about love and morality and honestly if the parson and the dragon hadn't kissed at the end the story wouldn't have suffered in the least

4 stars
This one sits around a...3.67 for me, so I decided to round up. The story is beautiful and I really enjoyed the interactions between the characters, but something was missing and I’m not sure what. Maybe another fifty pages would have done the trick...
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beyond lovely

I've always had a fondness for Beauty and the Beast retellings. This one had me crying happy tears at the slow building of their friendship into love.

Also, Daisy the dog and her roller skate. 💛
Gorgeous, gorgeous retelling of the Beauty and the Beast set in WWII-era England, with a parson as Belle and a dragon-man as Beast. A gentle, funny, beautifully written version of the tale.
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
3 stars

This is a decent re-telling of Beauty & The Beast but it didn’t exactly wow me. Maybe you have to be a fan of the source material (or the Disney version at least) for it to really impress, but I thought it was merely okay.
Elizabeth A
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Great concept. I loved Gray's take on the magic which covers the castle and its inhabitants. The way the curse behaves in this story is quite honestly enchanting and gives the maximum number of people agency in each of their personal situations, which is great. Also I loved the parson as a character, and also as a mentoring figure who steps up for our young queer Beast & tells him no, your desires are not a sin, you are not broken, you are capable of loving and being loved.

Still, I thought
A sweet, thoughtful, and charming M/M novella retelling of Beauty & the Beast, which is my favorite fairytale to begin with, and this version avoids several of the elements that make some analyses critical of the root storyline. The setting is England during WWII, with rationing and blackout regulations, and homosexuality still seriously condemned. The romance is slow-burn, with no more than some kisses in the end.

Its slant on the fairytale is well-conceived: the lead character (all he's ca
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I hoped to like it more
Maureen Lubitz
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on You Have Your Hands Full

Briarley was written by Aster Glenn Grey. I first heard about this novella when author Cat Sebastian recommended it on her Facebook page. This is a WWII era m/m retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it’s available on Kindle Unlimited. I already knew that I would like it from the description.

The story starts out like most versions of the folktale, with a country parson wandering into a beautiful home and wanting nothing more than to bring a rose home
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Okay. I rarely, rarely write reviews but this is officially my favorite retelling of beauty and the beast ever. EVER. I was absolutely charmed by this book to the point where it had me smiling as I read it and I need everything the author writes forever. BRIARLEY is a m/m romance set in WW2 England and the beast is a literal dragon. A DRAGON. It’s a fairly short book (under 200 pages) so you can get it done in one sitting. It’s a book about forgiveness and looking past your initial perceptions o ...more
May 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
It was a short enjoyable story.
It was not an insta love scenario, thank goodness, they slowly got to know each other and eventually they form a sort of friendship. This was well handled, but especially in the end the romantic aspect didn't came that into view. (view spoiler) But I guess that is just my personal preference.
I also co
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is so sweet and charming and clever and if this is where a historic m/m intersects with christian inspirational romance, whilst maintaining a firm foot in fairyland with dragony beasts, I for one am here for all those things. It's all of those genres at their finest, and if more Inspirational Romance writers took a clue from this treasure, I suspect I might be tempted to revisit their genre, which I have long since scorned. This book is a charming gem, and don't let my genre musings put you ...more
Sarah Fuller
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story. This retelling imagines the father refusing to let his daughter make the sacrifice for him and stays at Briarley Estate. The beast is a dragon and he’s been cursed for 100 years, needing to love and be loved in return. This is set during WW2.

There was some great discussions of love, religion, morality, human behavior and of course life, between the dragon and the parsons. I completely bought the two falling in love. Moving, funn
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Definitely a Beauty and the Beast cover, though in this case, the beauty, the daughter of the parson who stole the rose, is not allowed to move into the mansion. The parson himself stays. And gradually melts the hard heart of the beast. First he brings in a dog because a dog loves and who could keep themselves from loving the dog back. And then, of course, developing feelings themselves.

Nicely done. The WWII setting was a good choice. I would recommend this if you like romance, esp M/M.
Jennifer Brown
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
Wow, Wow, Wow

This is the very best version of "Beauty and the Beast" I've ever read. It's short and sweet and so moving. Set during World War II, the story is of a parson and the man who has been trapped for almost 100 years as the beast. It's basically a story of two men coming to terms with their homosexuality, but it's so much more. If you're concern it's smutty, it's not, just a sweet romance.

May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I’ve already been recommending this on social media. Beautifully written and and imaginative. Really neat how this manages to get set in the real world without losing the fairy tale charm.

And what a nice change of pace from the usual b&b. A beauty and the beast without Stockholm syndrome. Where the father doesn’t wuss out and trade his underaged daughter for his own safety. Loved it!
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A frankly beautiful reimagining of the fairy tale. It has a little bit of everything, w/magic, politics, philosophy, friendships, and finally, love. The WWII setting was a great concept, and having a beast that wasn’t the stereotypical fur-creature was inspired. The ending was a bit open, but it’s still HFN enough to not get in the way of the overall feeling of the novel.
Dec 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Cute m/m retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in WW2 featuring a stubborn Victorian aristocrat and an equally stubborn kind-hearted parson. I've read four gay romances this year that featured gay cinnamon roll country vicars that all look like Rupert Penry-Jones in my head, and apparently this is my very niche thing now?
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