I wanted to love this book. Beauty and the Beast retellings are among my absolute favorite stories and that’s the way this book is pitched. Not only that, but we have a hero who doesn’t think he is good enough for his heroine AND he is a virgin! Made of win, yes? Well, not really.
Prince Stellan lives in exile. He is feared and reviled by the Aldebaran for the magic his kind can do. Yet he is in exile from his own people for refusing to subscribe to their evil intentions. No one wants him. Until he meet Princess Clarysa. She witnesses his heroism as he battles the monstrous creations his people have set upon hers. She is captivated by his power, his bravery, and his strength. And he is enraptured by her beauty and her light. Unfortunately, Clarysa’s family is dead set against allowing Stellan into her life. Even worse, they refuse to heed his warnings about what his people have in store for them. And that sets up the star-crossed love story between our couple.
I had several issues. First of all, the story dragged in a lot of places… most noticeably in the beginning. It takes far too long to reveal why Stellan was kicked out of his family. I never did get completely clear on the dynamic with him and his sister. And his father was a completely dangling thread –or perhaps, even a red herring. I kept waiting and waiting for the angst, but I mostly just got little doses of frustration…. Stellan being a dick…. Clarysa being whiny or throwing herself at Stellan. There is not enough time or interaction between these two to support any depth of emotion between them. I could believe that they love the idea of each other, but they barely know each other by the time they allegedly can’t live without the other. I don’t buy it.
Add to that, the link to Beauty and the Beast is tenuous at best. Maybe La Belle et la Bete referenced in the author forward has got a different twist than the Disney version, but from my personal reference point, I don’t see it. Save for one short part of the book, there is nothing beastly about Stellan’s appearance. No curse on him. Just a misconception about his magic and intentions. And as for that one short part, there is a scene in there that borders a little close to bestiality, so um, yeah…. Plus, the human payoff takes way, way too long to get to.
This one just didn’t give me what I was looking for.
*Book provided by author for review