In this modern-retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” Savannah Carmichael, betrayed by an unreliable source, returns to her hometown of Danvers, Virginia with her once-promising journalism career in ruins. Given the opportunity to get back in the game by writing a patriotic human interest piece, Savannah turns her attention to the town hermit, Asher Lee, a wounded veteran who returned to Danvers eight years ago, and hasn’t been seen since.
After an IED explosion in Afghanistan took Asher’s hand and disfigured half of his face, he’s lived a quiet life on the outskirts of Danvers where the locals respect his privacy…that is, until Savannah Carmichael comes calling in a borrowed sundress with a plate of homemade brownies. When Asher agrees to be interviewed by Savannah, he starts feeling things for the beautiful reporter that he hasn’t felt in years.
Misfits in small-town Danvers, Savannah and Asher create a bond right away, touching each other’s hearts in ways neither thought possible. When a terrible mistake threatens to drive them apart, they’ll have to decide if the love they found in one another’s arms is strong enough to fight for their hard-won happily ever after.
** Contemporary Romance. Due to profanity, realistically depicted scenes of war and very strong sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.**
3 stars — I thought now would be the perfect time to finally read Ms. Regnery’s Beauty and the Beast retelling, what with the new movie out…and crap on a cracker, it just didn’t work for me. It’s so weird, b/c I really enjoy her Blueberry Lane books, but this is now the second of her wildly popular Modern Fairytale stories that I just didn’t connect with. Quite frankly, this book left me extremely underwhelmed, especially given how outrageously popular it is.
It was so odd, b/c I started this book before bed one night, and just really wasn’t sucked in right away. I wasn’t too sure about Savannah, and I really wasn’t enamoured with her sister Scarlet, so I put it down and went to sleep. Then the next day I was reading while exercising, and I was wholly sucked in!! I was just super excited and thinking “OH!!! This is what they were talking about!” I loved the beginnings of Savannah’s relationship with Asher, and how they met, and there was just some magic in their developing friendship and more. I even highlighted things! And then I had to do real life things, and when I got back to it today, I was bored. Like wth? I can admit that there might be a small mood component to my enjoyment, because I was having a really hard time articulating (even in my own head) what exactly went wrong. But I’ll give it a try.
On the surface, I really enjoyed the way Ms. Regnery’s chose to portray our Belle and Beast. I could totally see a reporter from a small town not fitting in, and a veteran with terrible disfigurements feeling ostracized by that same small town. But I’m not sure I fully bought into their roles…more Savannah than Asher. I could actually really understand Asher’s backstory and what he went through and how he came to be who he was, and I really felt like he stayed true to his character for much of the book. And while his actions at the climax were harsh, I could kind of get it even if it made me disappointed. But Savannah really did NOT act like a reporter. It was like a character trait that she was just supposed to have that kind of facilitated the plot, but I don’t really feel like I understood much of her. She uses her past betrayal and disgrace in so many aspects of the story, but I just didn’t know much about what happened, and I just didn’t really feel anything towards her and the decisions she made. I didn’t empathize with her character nearly as much as I needed to. I needed something more for me to understand why she would make such a big mistake at the climax, b/c she really came off as selfish, self-serving, and really not very in touch with people’s emotions. So to say I was disappointed in my Belle would be a bit of an understatement.
And while I enjoyed their initial chemistry and found that spark and magic quite exciting, somewhere along the way I got really bored with it, and wasn’t feeling the steamy scenes…I honestly thought “oh, here they go again.” I enjoy steamy scenes, but apparently there wasn’t enough keeping me interested in these ones, but that honestly could have been just me.
So the other thing that really didn’t work for me had a lot to do with how this “Southern” town was portrayed. Are they really like that? It felt like a stereotype was taken as fact and embellished upon. It’s not that I don’t understand elements, but I wanted a bit more nuance I guess. This is not the first time I’ve been insulted by the portrayal of a region that I don’t even live in, so perhaps *I’m* the one who has it wrong. I don’t know. But it influenced how I enjoyed Miss Potts (which was sometimes I did, sometimes I really didn’t). It influenced how little I enjoyed Savannah’s sister Scarlet. Though honestly, there were many more problems with her. Both she and her fiance Trent were downright mean. And I just did NOT buy the turnaround. I’m glad it was there, I wanted to buy it, but I needed an apology and some humility I guess. And don’t get me started on the Lance business, and dealing with it in a Southern way. NOT a fan of that tiny side plot at all, and how it played out.
OK, enough complaining Lenore. Let’s end with a high note. I really enjoyed Savannah’s Mother, and the story she told of her relationship with Asher’s Mother. I really thought it added to the story, and gave depth. I know she had her own elements of caricature, but I didn’t mind them…maybe because she was kind. I needed that kindness.
And I really thought the description of Asher’s injuries, and the bits of detail that we saw on how he coped with only one hand, and the look into things that could help him were well placed and added to the story. It was a really good read for my diversity challenge in that way.
So yeah. I’m bummed. I take it really hard when I don’t enjoy a book that’s so highly recommended. But apparently I’m a special snowflake that just can’t conform. Oh well. I’m going to at least give her Hansel and Gretel retelling a try, and if that one doesn’t work either, I’m totally calling it a flatline and sticking with her other series. Sometimes we’re just not a match.