First, let me say, I’m a real sucker for Beauty and the Beast stories. If you’re not, you won’t adore this book nearly as much as I do. That warning aside, this book was fantastic! Roderick Cherbon has returned from the Crusades hideously disfigured. The only good news is his hated father has died, leaving him the Cherbon lands – with a condition. He must marry before his thirtieth birthday, to a lady of good family. In an effort to keep his lands, he sends out a proclamation asking marriageable ladies to the castle. Lady Michaela Fortune, also known as ‘Miss Fortune’, comes from a poor but titled family. After being rebuked harshly by the man she thought she loved, she leaves for the Cherbon lands, determined (and I do mean determined) to win the man and the fortune he’s offering to heal her damaged pride and save her family from ruins. But the ‘Cherbon Devil’ turns out to be more than Micheala bargained for at first – can she even hope to tame the beast?
The first thing that I liked, right off, was the uniqueness of the time period. There are so many Beauty and the Beast tales set in the Regency period that it was nice to see one in a different era, during 1103 and the Crusades. The dialogue was active and engaging, and I loved seeing things from Roderick and Micheala’s point of view. Both were especially poignant, and very different from the other. I liked seeing how their differences made them so compatible. I loved seeing her go from a childish, light-hearted dreamer to a more serious and mature, but still kind and caring, woman. I loved seeing her share her light with Roderick. This book actually reminded me a bit of Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (one of my all time favorites) because of Micheala’s persistence to help Roderick see the good in himself, and his insistence to only see the worst in himself.
Roderick was a heartbreaking character. His abusive father instilled in him a sense of his own worthlessness, and he went to the Crusades hoping to prove his worth. Instead he comes back a failure in his own mind, crippled, missing a leg, and scarred beyond compare. He feels no one can love him as he is - a disgusting failure. He repulses himself, and is so filled with his own self-loathing he can’t find a way to escape it. He, just like Dain in Lord of Scoundrels, is a perfect dark, brooding, angsty hero who tries to hide his pain in his cruel words and actions to other. I loved his fear of being loved because he’d never been loved before, his child-like uncertainty. He was just so… perfect. I was piling on the empathy for this man. My heart still breaks for him.
Lady Micheala Fortune was admirable and loveable. She kept hoping even when it was hopeless, and was the right blend of patient and relentless. She never stopped loving him, or telling/showing him she loved him. I liked watching her change from a girl into a woman without losing any of her fabulous qualities. I loved her guts – how she was willing to yell at Roderick whenever he yelled at her, and how she never left. She was the only kind of heroine to help Roderick, and she made him whole again - or perhaps for the first time ever. She, just as he grew, also really blossomed in my eyes. I especially loved her motherly sentiments towards Leo, Roderick’s son, and how she brought the father and son closer together. (Again, Lord of Scoundrels, anyone?)
All in all, with the sweet little boy, Leo, the wonderful mother-figure Micheala, and the wounded hero father, Roderick, could one have a more perfect family?
Now, one short paragraph of what knocked this book from A+ position. The dialogue was a little inconsistent for the time period. Some of the sentences seemed accurate in structure but others included words or phrases that seemed too modern. Whether they were, I’m not certain, but I had to question the authenticity of the syntax for the time period. The ending was my biggest problem – it was unrealistically happy. Everyone’s friends and ***BIG BIG BIG SPOILER ALERT HERE*** Roderick’s leg that is missing gets healed-ish by some freaky ‘Justice’ man. I hate to say it, but the soldiers over in Iraq who have their legs blown off, despite the injustice of it, don’t get new legs all of a sudden. I really disliked how unrealistic that was. ***END OF BIG BIG BIG SPOILER ALERT***. I like happy endings, but this was completely unrealistic, which surprised me. The rest of the book focused on the realism of Roderick’s injuries, and the very end seemed to make all his previous struggles negligible for the sake of the perfection of the ending. It was too much a fairy tale ending, especially compared to the rest of the book. It just didn’t match and felt forced, and that definitely pulled the book down in my esteem. Finally, the villain was tots cliché. But I was expecting that.
“Sexy”ness rating: More tender than flaming hot, but there is sex
Overall Rating: A-
Bottom Line: Sweet and beautiful, with a unique setting and good dialogue (and a fabulous cast of characters) this is def worth your time!
Published: November 3, 2009