I was privileged to be selected as a reviewer for a new clean romance novel, Monstrous Beauty by Carol E. Keen, a re-telling of the Beauty and Beast tale. Here are my honest opinions.
I received an ebook copy for free through CelebrateLit, but the decision to write a review, as well as the opinions expressed in it, are all my own. I was not compensated for this review. (Links to Amazon are my affiliate links to help offset the cost of this website.)
A damaged man. A strange young woman. Secrets that can bring them together, or tear them apart.
"This is perfect for girls of all ages. There are valuable lessons throughout the story and the author makes sure to point the readers towards God."
Ethan's father did a number on him, to say the least. In his passing, he left Ethan a wealthy man, but a severely damaged one. More than one person has considered him to be "beastly". Annabelle is unique and could be his only chance at love, but she has secrets of her own. Can they achieve true forgiveness before their world collapses?
"My entire world got zoned out as I fell into the enchanting world of Ethan (the beast) and Annabelle (the beauty) and wow, I was just swept away! I LOVED how the relationship gradually grew..."
"If you love fairy-tales then you will love The Beauty Series!! I highly recommend these books to anyone!! The Beast here is a selfless hero and the villain(s) were quite a surprise."
"I don't want to spoil anything, so I will just say that I love the reason why Ethan is a 'beast' and that whole backstory was gripping. And I was cheering for these two, with the clever obstacles that kept coming up. If you are looking for a lovely romance story, you'll love this."
Carol E. Keen enjoys fresh coffee, hot tea, and a good book. She was published for several years in FAMA magazine (Freshwater And Marine Aquarium) as a contributing editor. She published her first book on CD, called Simply Seahorses.
She is the author of The Beauty Series and The Corandira Station, to name a few of her works. She currently resides in the South with her husband and family and spends her time writing, reading, working in photography, and being with her much loved critters.
You can buy this ebook on Amazon for only $0.99.
Even though this is a cute retelling of one of my favorite fairy-tales, by Chapter 9, I still was having trouble getting into the story. The circumstances of how Ethan found Annabelle felt unbelievable. The constant head-hopping from one to the other and then to third-person narration is hard to follow, and sometimes the italics for first-person thoughts were misused.
The writing was too choppy. It didn't feel finished. I like the idea of this Beauty and the Beast retelling, and several of the allusions to it were nice, but I would have liked it better if it was more fleshed out. Several of the reactions seem forced or unrealistically fast.
And there is a duplicated chapter. I thought maybe I just got a pre-edited ARC copy, but a previous reviewer on Amazon said the same thing, and it was published two years ago.
The character-building, which is probably the most important part of a story to me, was disappointing. I didn't care too much about Annabelle. While not knowing her secret, the suspense made me want to keep reading until I found out about her past. Until then, I didn't really relate to her. I felt she was kind of one-dimensional. Now that I know her secret, I still don't relate. She had no control over what happened to her, but she still lets it and her family's treatment of her define who she is.
All the “bad guys,” the antagonists, were one-dimensional. They had no redeeming qualities. Even Ethan's good servants were one-dimensional with no flaws.
Ethan, on the other hand, was the one character that I thought was written well, whom I really sympathized with. He obviously struggled with several flaws but his desire was to overcome them and do the right thing. And his treatment of Annabelle was always kind and generous, which showed a good heart. I was rooting for Ethan, and his character taught many lessons of perseverance, humility, and kindness.
I was under the impression that only good Christian books were allowed through CelebrateLit. However, I missed any spiritual threads. I only noticed one mention of a Bible. I'm disappointed in the lack of a personal faith. This was under the category of Religious & Inspirational Fiction/Romance, but I would not call this religious in any way.
One of the aforementioned quotes says, "There are valuable lessons throughout the story and the author makes sure to point the readers towards God." I went back to see if I had just missed it somehow. The only four mentions of God I could find are: 1. using God's name in vain at the end of chapter 15; 2. a possible prayer in chapter 17 (It's not clear whether he's talking to God or just taking His name in vain.); 3. I did finally find one prayer in chapter 30, when Annabelle is on her way to her wedding, and 4. her other one-liner prayer in chapter 31, “Oh God, please ﬁx this quickly.”
I think this story just needs more work. It could be great if the author would just go back to clean it up and flesh out the characters and faith a little more. A developmental editor could make this cute story great!