Backlist Review: When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Title: When Beauty Tamed the Beast
Author: Eloisa James
Genres: Romance
Series: Fairy Tales #2
Pages: 372
Published: January 25, 2011
Source: Borrowed Library
Rating: 2 out of 5

Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty . . . Naturally, she's betrothed to a Beast.

Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he crosses. And rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl immune to the charms of any woman.

Linnet is not just any woman.

She is more than merely lovely: her wit and charm brought a prince to his knees. She estimates the earl will fall madly in love—in just two weeks.

Yet Linnet has no idea of the danger posed to her own heart by a man who may never love her in return.

If she decides to be very wicked indeed . . . what price will she pay for taming his wild heart?

As far as Ms. James' fairy tale retellings, When Beauty Tamed the Beast is a miss. It shares similarities to the rest of the series: an overstuffed, farcical set-up akin to A Kiss at Midnight and a sarcastic, anachronistic heroine like The Duke is Mine, but where I found both of the other books charming, I found these quirks annoying in WBTtB.

There is too much plot to the book, firstly. Linnet's mother was light with her favors and died en-route to one of her many lovers. Linnet, despite being the most beautiful woman on the face of the Earth, has to work twice as hard to ensure her virtue because of this. Until a careless comment by a potential suitor, a prince, causes the Ton gossip scene into overdrive and poor, virginal Linnet's five months pregnant in everyone's eyes by the end of the ball. Piers is the heir to a dukedom. He's also House - literally. The fictional television diagnostician. In a Victorian Beauty and the Beast retelling. Piers was injured by his addict father as a child and now reputedly can't bear an heir. The Duke is also obsessed with royal lineage and traces himself back to Henry VIII. So he and Linnet's father make a deal that (not)pregnant Linnet will marry Piers and, passing off the (not)baby as his, providing him with the heir he (can't)can't create. Did you follow all that?

There's also a beta romance between the Duke and his estranged wife, some trainee physicians named Kibbles and Bitts, and because this is a medical historical - an epidemic and a bedside, near-death confession.

I liked Linnet fairly well until the end. First, her desperate begging was just that, desperate. I lost all respect for her, clinging to Piers and declaring that she'll wait for him "for awhile" to be a decent person. Please. Then, when something threatens her beauty, her attitude is appalling. I understand people get depressed after long illnesses, but she gets downright mean in a way that didn't jibe with the saintly "giving puppies to sick orphans" thing she had going on.

Despite being a huge House fan, I never took to Piers. Hugh Laurie made the misanthrope charming, and most importantly, right. I never felt Piers was the genius he claimed. We saw him put a pregnant woman on bedrest and diagnose a case of heatstroke. Well by golly, alert the old timey media. We're told he loses the fewest fever victims, but by this point in the book he's been such an unrelenting ass who cares? His leg issue only appears when the story needs a reason for him to be extra cranky. Of the disabled heroes I've read this week, the match definitely goes to Tessa Dare's blind Ransom in Romancing the Duke. (Which, not marketed as a BatB retelling, manages to do that better as well.)

The romance and the sex are the saving graces in WBTtB. Despite an inconsistent characterization, Linnet fits well with Piers. Their wits are well matched and the verbal sparring is actually delightful. I loved every morning that Piers woke her to go swimming. It's a sex-heavy romance, with several scenes of intercourse, (including one where a physician thinks the godsdamn hymen is up in the vagina,) as well as oral for both characters. Other than the aforementioned hymen issue, they're written well with only one "wait, I don't think that's how legs work" moment and no cheesy euphemisms.

When Beauty Tamed the Beast
isn't a keeper. It's not a bad romance, but in a series with markedly better options, let's all just reread A Kiss at Midnight instead.

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