Beast by Pepper Pace
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh my goodness. This is one of those that has a sappy romantic like myself sighing. A lonely, isolated man. A woman who 'has it together' or so it seems, but is a wreck on the inside. And they find each other.
The Beauty and the Beast retelling doesn't get old for me. After all, I am a die-hard romantic and a die-hard fairy tale lover. Pepper Pace does both so well here. Yet, instead of the Beast being grumpy and surly, Christopher is the sweetest teddy bear (although he probably resembles a Grizzly bear) imaginable. I loved him!
Pace challenges the reader here. Our Beauty has a significant weight problem. And the weight problem isn't her issue, but the emotions underneath it, the ones that caused her weight issues, and the results of them. If you've ever been overweight, you know how it is for Ashleigh. The comments that hit like barbs, because someone thinks they have the right to say something or the fact that they are insensitive, because they've never struggled with weight problems. The assumptions made about you because of your weight.
On the other side, she doesn't make Ashleigh into a completely harmless victim. Ashleigh has some shallowness issues to work through. But that's the beauty of this story. She is able to see the beauty beneath the horrible scars and disfigurement that Christopher has. I truly loved the emotional connection between Christopher and Ashleigh. And there was also a very sensual component to this book, for romance readers who need that in their stories. Lots of spice and hot love scenes to go with an emotional love story that feels so authentic and timeless.
When I got to 38% on my Kindle and love declarations were made, I wondered what else could happen in this book. Well, plenty. This is a love story about not just two people finding each other, but also also finding their way to healing. Making a life together in spite of obstacles they both face.
When you read these kinds of stories, the stubborn person in you is determined to be upset if the problem is fixed, such as the heroine losing weight, or the hero getting his disfigurement repaired. But is that truly fair to the story for the characters not to go through that passage 'just because'? After all, it's easy to stay where you are. Even harder to take that step of faith to change something about yourself for the right reasons. In this case, the resolution made so much sense and only added to this story.
If I could change anything? That's a matter of personal tastes, and I'm sure many will disagree with me. However, I could have done without some of the graphic language in the love scenes. While they were scintillating and the chemistry powerful, I guess I didn't need to read certain terms when it came to body parts. That's a small quibble.
I'm personally no grammar stickler, but there were a couple issues there. I feel bad even pointing them out because a 100% accurate book doesn't necessarily tell a story that I love, like this somewhat imperfect one does. Overall, I found the writing very poised, professional, and so emotionally-stirring that I couldn't help but give this a five star rating.
This was a beautiful love story. That's kind of ironic, because this story is about how what's on the surface doesn't show you everything. That what is at the heart is worth fighting for in the end.
Highly recommended to romance readers who enjoy a more sensually descriptive love story, or just any old sap who can't resist a tried and true love story.
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