Saturday, April 12, 2014

REVIEW: When Beauty Tamed The Beast by Eloisa James

When Beauty Tamed the Beast (Fairy Tales, #2)When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Original Publication Year: 2011
Genre(s): Historical, Romance
Series: Fairy Tales #2
Awards: None
Format: Kindle
Narrated By: NA

Recommended subtitle: Beauty meets Dr.Gregory House

I am always on the look-out for more historical romance novelists to love.  My experience in exploring the romance genre is that it is very easy to pick up a really awful book. The ratings on Goodreads and Amazon are usually not trustworthy as most romance readers seem to be looking for something different in their romance novels than I am. But that’s a topic for a future blog post.  Romance reads (along with a few other genres) are my relaxing, take-your-mind-off-more-serious-life-stuff, escape-into-this-happy-ending and don’t-worry-so-much reads. The farther from reality, the better, and this is why I gravitate to historicals and paranormals. hH I want funny and I don’t want the book or the characters to take themselves too seriously.  And I would prefer to avoid really crappy writing. So it was a big win to discover Eloisa James thanks to the folks at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. 

When Beauty Tamed the Beast is very loosely based on the idea of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale and is perhaps more strongly linked to the TV show House.  Our hero Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, is very definitely modeled on the character of Gregory House. He’s a doctor focused on diagnosis who is extremely rude and who limps and suffers from chronic pain. His rudeness also happens to be entirely hilarious.  At heart he is a decent person however and it is because of the “beast” his chronic pain turns him into, as well as some family history, that he has resolved that he will never marry.  Linnet, the heroine, is a stunning beauty who has attracted the attention of a prince but her prospects come crashing down when she and the prince are caught in a somewhat (relatively innocent) compromising situation.  Linnet’s reputation is ruined and she becomes the perfect candidate to be married off to the cantankerous Piers.  Besides her physical beauty, Linnet happens to be a really caring, funny and able to put rude Earls in their place sort of gal. 

Now normally an utterly perfect heroine like described above would have me gnashing teeth, and I do have some gripes, but she really is very easy to like and get behind.  I think it is because she has a sense of humor and does have moments of appropriate sulkiness.  Piers, following his model’s example, is sympathetic and likeable despite (because of?) the rudeness.  I wouldn’t say he’s terribly swoonworthy but there is enough chemistry between the two lovebirds to keep things rolling along nicely towards the happy ending.  Basically, I really enjoyed the book and it gave me 90% of what I was looking for.  I like the show House and James nailed the humor pretty exactly and the pacing of the romance was good.  The dialogue was snappy and authentic feeling.  Everybody acted in relatively believable ways.  Awesome.

The gripes?  There were a number of them and I’m reluctant to bring them up because, again, despite these things I got what I needed out of the book.  But here are a few just to keep things interesting.   1) If you are looking for historical accuracy, or are a historian of regency era England, this might not be the book for you.  2)  For the “Beast”, James chose to be metaphorical.  Piers is well enough looking etc… he’s just got a beastly temperament which of course only needs a good woman to help soothe away.  However, for “Beauty”, James chose to be very literal and spends pages upon pages describing how incredibly stunning and luscious Linnet is.  I don’t really understand this.  Most of the readers of this book are women and a good percentage of them probably don’t read romances to soak in descriptions of beautiful ladies.  Why not make Linnet’s beauty an internal trait?  3) There is a plot development in the last quarter of the book that  during the build up to it, my brain literally said “No. No way. She’s can't be thinking of going there.”  She went there.  It was goofy and silly and I could’ve done without it but obviously it didn’t ruin my reading experience.

Final Verdict:  Funny and sparkling historical romance with a few problems, none of which interfered (much) with my enjoyment of it.

If you are a romance reader how do you prefer your romances? Snarky and funny or earnest and dire?  Also where do you come down on really beautiful heroines?  Do they make sense to you? 

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