Summary: Marcus Bradley, the Marquis of Fleetwood, is angry to find out that his future bride has run off with another man. What’s more he knows the person who helped her elope, a Miss Danielle “Dannie” Strafford, owner of a bookshop called Gretna Green’s Books (which as you might guess helps couples elope to Gretna Green.) If Marcus doesn’t secure a suitably wealthy heiress soon his sister will be forced to wed a horrible man because he hasn’t the funds to break the arrangement. Marcus decides that since Dannie lost him a bride, she’s the perfect person to find him one next.
Review: This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. One of the best scenes is when Marcus forces Dannie to help him kidnap Ginny right out from under her family’s noses and then rush the ill-fated duo to Gretna Green. Dannie of course wishes to sabotage the whole thing and Ginny’s father, the admiral won’t be pleased none if it succeeds! But when Ginny gets kidnapped again, Marcus and Dannie must work together to rescue her. Marcus suffered severely at the hands of his father growing up and has several PTSD symptoms. When he suffers an attack he blacks out. Dannie herself is hiding a secret, she knows even as she falls for Marcus, she’s the heiress he desperately needs. Her dowry would be enough for him to save his sister. Overall, a fun series of madcap antics.
Buy: He’s No Prince Charming (Ever After series)
Previously titled The Legend of the Werestag. Not a paranormal.
Hero: Luke Trenton, Viscount Merritt, is beastly in appearance and temperament. War stripped him of his civility and hardened his heart. He feels like he has nothing to offer the girl who looks at him with stars in her eyes. He wants her to get over him as he knows she will and move on so he can too.
Heroine: Cecily Hale has loved Luke for a while and treasures the kiss they shared before he left for war. When he came home from war and didn’t seek her out she was hurt. She hopes the house party they are both at will be just the setting to win his heart. A local legend of a werestag catches her attention and she convinces the party to go in search of it… but her real hunt is not a wild deer but a wild viscount!
Review: An exceptional novella. I loved the hero and heroine so much I could have read an expanded version of this story. Luke is a deliciously aloof stubborn cad. He rejects her after she pledges her love to him which humiliates and wounds Cecily. Our heroine doesn’t take this too kindly and focuses her attention on the stag hunt instead of the man. At one point she needs rescuing because of a wild boar attack and the mysterious stranger who protects her and things start to develop and get steamy from there on out. Very enjoyable.
Buy: How to Catch a Wild Viscount
Hero: The Earl of Hawkhurst loved and lost his first wife and child in a fire that also left him scarred. He buried his grief by working for the government in an elite group known as Guardians of the Sword. Hawk has returned to England to fulfill the honor-pact required by the group’s charter in order to lead Guardians. To do this he must wed his mentor’s niece… a woman he’s never met.
Heroine: Skye believes in her cousin’s idea about legendary lovers. In fact, she’s knows just which fairy tale hers is going to be… Beauty and the Beast. When she finds out the man she’s loved since childhood is back in England, but looking for a bride elsewhere, she brazenly enters his life under the threatening clouds of a convenient storm. If he’s going to be beastly about it, well… she’d prepared with a clever rouse to get his help solving a mystery of her uncle’s lost love.
Review: Secrets of Seduction is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I loved it. Skye is a brilliant heroine – not only clever and determined to win the heart of a man she’s loved from afar, but patient enough to see his pain and understand him. You’ll be rooting for her before she’s through uttering her greetings to the hero for the first time. Hawk is very funny – first knowing she’s a virgin, then convincing himself otherwise. Skye’s aunt is very talkative about these things and has prepared Skye for what to expect. It leads to a very sexy scene with some sponges. A classic feel good romance, you’ll love to read!
Buy: Secrets of Seduction (Legendary Lovers)
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Hero: Alex, the Earl of Cardiff, never planned to be the earl. He had a father and older brother and so went off to war to make his mark. When he returns, he is severely wounded and hides his ravage face and body and heart in the castle of Heddon Hall. His servants are terrified of him. His stepmother despises him. He can’t tell if his estate manager is swindling him because he can’t read due to the loss of one eye and the headaches that come from trying to focus the other. When an uppity little maid arrives, bold as you please, on his doorstep, he’s intrigued despite his attempts to distance himself from her.
Heroine: Lady Laura Blake has had enough of being rebuffed. If Alex won’t return her letters and tell her what is going on she will figure it out on her own. She shows up at his estate in disguise, wearing her maid’s clothes and using her maid’s name. Once inside his household, she’s put to work in the kitchen. Being a scullery maid was not quite what she had in mind! Soon she’s elevated to be his personal secretary and that suits her so much better. Now she can spend her days with Alex… and nights.
Review: The first half of the novel is the best part of the story. If you want a happy ending that’s truly happy end at book one/part one. I enjoyed the setup with the heroine breaking into the hero’s lair as a servant (though how she managed it is a mystery because she’s a family friend, you’d think she’d be recognized by someone – Alex!!) I like Laura’s bumbling in the kitchen, her determination to reach Alex and break down his walls. I loved his elation at recapturing humanity and love.
However, after they come together the story goes downhill as they are separated, when the hero returns to his wartime duties for one last assignment. Laura doesn’t want him to go, but for his masculine and national pride, Alex must. Their separation leads to misfortune as Alex is captured and assumed dead. Laura experiences a miscarriage because of the news and also faces the doubly incapacitating grief of losing Alex and the babe. When Alex gets out of prison, he allows his evil stepmother’s cruel words to sway him from finding the truth of what is going on with Laura which causes a big misunderstanding. My friends, you know me, and you know I love angst, but holy moly this is too much. I also like more time together with the main characters and less time apart.
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I don’t know about you, but I grew up on Beauty and the Beast, and to-date it is still my favorite Disney cartoon. I love Belle’s quiet grace and inherent sweetness, not to mention she doesn’t flinch at the unexpected, like talking objects. She knows when her imagination is caught up in a book and when reality can inspire the imagination to take flight.
But let me be honest, as much as I love Belle, I love the Beast more. I’m tempted to say I like him best in his beastly form, but he’s a pretty hot French prince too. Some think his name is Adam, but this distinction comes from another source, not the Disney cartoon. To Disney and little girls everywhere, he is simply the Beast.
My love for this particular movie has translated to my romance novels. In the romance genre, a beastly hero is not actually a beast (unless we are talking paranormal romances, and then that’s a whole other ball of wax.) Instead, he’s a man who is either naturally ugly (think big noses, harsh features, black eyes… hawk-like) or horrifically wounded (heroes with aching heads fit here too.) Generally speaking, the hero is scarred on his face and/or torso and has a beastly temper to match his beastly looks. He is almost always a (rich) recluse, locked away in a mansion or castle.
His heroine, like Belle, is usually a beauty who sees beneath the surface of his gruff exterior to the aching heart within the man. As she tries to crack the protection around his heart and scale the walls to the softie lurking within — he’s trying to build more barriers. A beastly hero constantly pulls away and tries to hide from his feelings. Every extrication attempt fails, until suddenly he yields to the love he feels. When he does, it’s extremely hot. No wonder this is one of my favorite plot tropes!
Here are some of my particular favorite romances, featuring beastly heroes:
Tell me about the beastly heroes with whom you fell in love. Share in the comments, because I am always looking out for the next diamond in the rough!