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Beast Beast by Judith Ivory is one of my two all time favorite romance books and also simply one of the best books I have ever read When I read books or watch movies afterwards I have a certain feel for them a textural sensation Beast has left me with one of the richest most voluptuous feels ever The story is set around the turn of the 20th century The first half of the book takes place on the ocean liner Concordia; the second half takes place in Provence France The plot is fairly simple It combines an unknown lover theme with a beauty and beast theme Louise Vandermeer is an heiress and beautiful beyond mere mortal imagination Her fiancé Charles Harcourt is sophisticated successful and well admired the perfect man if you will except for a couple of unfortunate defects He is blind in one eye from a childhood ailment That eye is further distorted by a scar He also has a bad knee and limps a bit when the weather is unfavorable In other words he is not pretty Louise agreed to marry Charles sight unseen because she wanted the freedom of a married woman While she is on the Concordia traveling to Nice for the wedding Charles unbeknownst to her happens to be on the same ship He seduces her in complete darkness But the prank backfires Charles falls hard for Louise but she is in love only with her shipboard lover unaware that it was Charles Harcourt all along One of the reasons I love this book is because of its characters One doesn't see a heroine like Louise everyday In fact I've never read another one like her She is not what one would label immediately sympathetic She is eighteen raised in the lap of luxury beautiful than Helen of Troy completely aware of her power over the opposite sex bored with her life and annoyed with her parents and relatives Sounds like somebody you and I could detest? But Judith Ivory made her so much than a spoiled darling Louise is excruciatingly intelligent I can hardly think of any heroine from any other book who is sharper or observant As a result Louise is painfully aware of how circumscribed her life is both by her wealth and her beauty People are struck dumb by her looks They have no idea who the real Louise Vandermeer truly is or wants to be She adroitly fends off open mouthed admiration from men and jealousy from women while longing to be someone kinder wiser someone open someone who was in fact the real Louise Vandermeer You don't have to be beautiful You only need to have been eighteen confused aimless misunderstood and feeling like an outsider to sympathize with Louise Charles Harcourt on the opposite end of the spectrum is also a victim of his appearance With him Ivory has succeeded in creating a man who pays a great deal of attention to and agonizes over his looks yet who is never diminished by this seemingly less than manly concern Charles is mature understanding generous and open minded He is the person with whom Louise could be completely open And while he is awed and flabbergasted and flustered by her beauty we are never in doubt of what he really fell in love with her strength her perspicacity her desire to improve herself and the force of her will Louise to her great credit realizes and admires the less than sightly Charles for all his wonderful ualities In time she falls in love with this Charles and we know they've both found the one person they needed As if such complex human flesh and blood characters aren't enough Ms Ivory wows me with her exuisite command of language There is something inimitable about her writing I know I've tried and failed Not only do lovely similes metaphors adjectives and adverbs cascade freely from her pen without ever degenerating into verbosity she writes with an energy an enthusiasm almost a glee that I have not seen anywhere else except perhaps in Isabel Allende's book Aphrodite Her writing is tactile visual olfactory gustatory When she describes pearls you feel their cool smooth roundness When she describes food you are hungry And when she describes scenery by God you are there Provence comes alive in her pen just as it does in Peter Mayle's books And when she writes a love scene you need a cold shower Sometimes after reading a romance one sighs and is satisfied I was not only satisfied I was astounded by Beast Judith Ivory is one of the best writers writing today period And Beast in my opinion is Judith Ivory at her best Note I wrote this back in 2002 as a reader submitted Desert Isle Keeper review for All About Romance Very nice Edwardian romance The hero Charles was uite different and most of the book was written from his POV He was scarred and hyper aware of it but rather than secluding himself and brooding about it he instead made himself confident at least on the surface and flamboyant and vain He starts his incognito relationship with the heroine his fiance whom he's never met out of pricked pride The heroine Louise is 18 and for once was written as an 18 year old She is polished and refined after all she is very wealthy and was brought up to be a high society lady But she is a bit adrift She is not real kind and she knows it She also is aware that she is drifting and lonely and not sure who she is or what she wants to do with her life She falls hard for the mysterious man she meets Generally this isn't a type of heroine that I like but JI totally made her work for me I think probably because Louise was aware of her own faultsThey both change and grow through the course of the book I liked the way that once he was in love he was so in love He was indulgent and mesmerized by her When she wouldn't sleep with him after they married because to her he was a stranger he dealt with it didn't force her but showed his unhappiness in a startling way but he didn't get on his high horse and leave or any nonsense like that Throughout the first part of their marriage Louise kept being continually surprised by him his kindness his understanding and his whimsy The scenes where he tries to get her into bed after their marriage were extremely hot Very well written with a good feel of the times I loved picturing her dresses as they were described I also learned uite a bit about ambergris Too bad I'd have to kill a whale to smell it I totally would except I live in the midwest and the ocean is a very long way away ; When you keep wishing your husband who's been abroad for 3 days will delay coming home at least 3 or 4 hours so you can manage to finish the book you know the book's a keeper If anyone told me two days ago that I would come to love a book by Ivory whose book The Proposition was a huge disappointment for me I would have laughed at them; yet here I am This book not only turned a keeper but one of my top 20 books everThis book had everything witty dialogues clever humor a wicked sexy but imperfect hero my favorite kind and a great passionate love story Yes both of them made mistakes and acted stupidly from time to time yes there were a couple or of holes in the plot and yes as it's obvious none of these things mattered a bit to me I became entranced in their story felt their anguish their love and especially the hero's despair that he couldn't touch the woman he loved so much I will add a couple of lines the hero says to the heroineAll my roads lead to you no matter how crooked And allyour roads lead to me Stay Stop your traveling LouiseI rest my case at this point 35 starsI did a buddy read for this so for all of my thoughts comments and uotes Beast buddy read With him I became aloud the person I had always been silently inside myselfThis uote right here is what I want to read about and feel when I pick up a romance book Beast is obviously a play on the Beauty and the Beast story and while you'll get a true feel for it the heroine does think the hero is ugly with his scarring for a good while this almost had of a Phantom of the Opera vibe I'm not sure if it is due to the coincidence of reading about young spoiled gorgeous heroines lately but Louise annoyed and lost my interest a fair amount of times She does show growth towards the end but she got tiring to read aboutThe hero was uber vulnerable and this caused him to be prideful and scheming at times I kind of wanted of his background instead of the total absorption he had with the heroine It was hard in the beginning and some middle to feel good about his attraction to the heroine because it was based on her looks as he didn't know her yet; felt like he wanted her because she was so pretty and prove his looks weren't so badEven with these weaker characters the story in the hands of this author is worth reading because of beautiful her writing can be I thought she did a better job in Bliss of showing us the characters' deeper emotions instead of having the characters straight tell us as she did so hereDefinitely still worth your time but Bliss still holds the crown for me The BeautyAn exuisite American heiress Louise Vandermeer is beautiful brilliantand bored—which is why she has agreed to a daring adventure to travel across the ocean to marry an aristocrat abroad Rumor has it her intended is a hideous cad—a grim prospect that propels her into a passionate reckless affair with a compelling stranger she never sees in the light of dayThe BeastThough scarred by a childhood illness Charles d'Harcourt has successfully wooed Europe's most sophisticated beauties For a lark he contrived to travel incognito on his own fiancée's ship—and seduce the young chit in utter darkness But the rake's prank backfired It was he who was smitten—while the hot tempered Lulu now his wife loves only her shipboard lover unaware it was d'Harcourt all the time And Charles will never have her heart—unless he can open her eyes to the prince who hides within This is my first Judith Ivory book I’ve picked up and although it started off great for me it fell short in the end The Good Because of my love for the start of the book I thought I break it down between the good points on the book and the bad points The beginning was wonderful with Charles setting out to prove that looks are not everything teaching a lesson to Louise I didn’t care for Louise at the start but slowly she blooms into a mature woman someone trying to find her way and herself in this crazy world Charles was dark and teasing with his own faults but playful with Louise bringing out a kindness he didn’t know he had The banter and play between them was great warming your heart as these two lonely people finding each other on a ship in the middle of the ocean The Bad Almost like it became a different novel the second part made me angry instead of giving me that warm and fizzy feeling gave me heartburn Instead of Charles being a man and owning up to hiding his identity on the ship hides the fact from Louise which drags and hinders the rest of the book While Louise mourns her lost love and dealing with a new life in front of her Charles doesn’t give her time for anything wanting her to forget everything and just jump into bed with him when she turns away from him he becomes a Alpha Male caveman and throws a fit Even going a low as emotional blackmail Many times Charles could have clear the air between him and Louise but instead hides behind a very lame excuse even when faced with a baby and the fact Louise knows the truth and still loves him he still runs away Which made Charles look like an idiot and a cowardOverall this was a good book but the ending just didn’t settle right with me and the characters real lack of telling the truth and proving themselves just got on my nerves far to much Interesting story but couldn’t get into the characters Really enjoyed the setting but I didn’t care much about the romanceHRBC April 2020 This had the potential of being stupendous but the ludicrous plot and unlikable ice ueen heroine ruined it entirely I'm really annoyed because I had this sitting on my bookshelf for over a year and looking forward to reading it for so long I originally wanted to give this an extra star but there was honestly nothing I enjoyed about this The first half of the story dragged out unbearably slow where the hero devises an idiotic scheme to seduce his unsuspecting young soon to be bride as someone else The heroine decides Hey Why the heck not? I'm about to get married and this faceless stranger sounds beautiful eye twitch The hero soon realizes he has fallen in love with her and she with him so what does he do? He doesn't tell her the truth and decides they should start with a clean slate once they are married and he can make her fall in love with him again crickets Yeah cause that makes total sense The rest of the story we have to sit through the vain selfish emotionally stunted heroine mooning over her mysterious pasha lover and comparing him to her 'ghastly' husband and constantly pushing him away It was unbearable and seemed to have no end The fact that she doesn't recognize Charles as her mystery lover after their escapades on the boat blows my mind They spent 5 nights together you're telling me she can't recognize his voice his long hair and his body build?? And oh let's not forgetTHEY HAVE THE SAME FREAKING NAME That's just a special kind of stupidLogic and common sense are completely thrown out the window for a convoluted plot which could have easily been resolved if the hero confessed about his deception I could have overlooked this if it weren't for the sheer misery of the insufferable heroine Louise She is so beautiful men stop in their tracks and every woman envies her she's intelligent beyond her years she's 18 years old but acts like a jaded worldly creature who's extremely hung up on looks her own and her husband's The number of times Charles's looks are emphasized scrutinized and ripped apart by this woman is insane He has a blind eye and a limpWE GET IT Please move onThere were a lot of confusing contradictions to Louise’s character that really didn’t mesh well She loves her beauty yet hates it loves and craves attention yet detests it adores her parents but hates them and is jealous of them WTF? thinks Charles is grotesue and frightening but beautiful WHICH IS IT? She’s apparently a wild flighty hellion who just wants to be free but can’t stand affectionate touches She won't even let Charles hold her freaking hand He can’t touch her it’s justcriminal She makes false promises to him then breaks it with total disregard to his feelings and his work in another city She can't be bothered with pleasantries And the idea of doing wifely duties and running a household? She cringes at the mere mention of it RME This girl was one seriously confused unstable mess and I just could not make sense of her or relate to her at all Ironically enough the hero is supposed to be the 'beast' of this story but I think Louise could carry the title as well To be fair Charles did start out pretty lame and unlikable in the beginning but he showed some growth and humility when he realized his mistakes and bends over backwards to win this girl's heart My heart honestly broke for him a little even though it shouldn't I felt his emotions were wasted on an insensitive detached little girl She can't see past her own nose and is uite aware of it but doesn't lift a finger to try and change or be a better person I mean at least freaking try That was the most infuriating thing I could have overlooked all of it if we saw some actual dimension personality and evolution to this heroine but nope Just because you acknowledge that you aren't a nice person gives you a free pass? Uh no Whining about it didn't endear her to me eitherThere was not an ounce or inch given to understand this character and the evolution I was hoping to see with her did not happen Someone who can't and isn't willing to meet someone half way or compromise is hard to sympathize with view spoilerAnd to add insult to injury the ending was so unbelievably slapstick and rushed You're gonna torment your characters and put your readers through all of that just for a rushed sloppy abrupt ending? We don't even see when exactly Louise figures out the truth she just does off the page hide spoiler A very tender passionate delightful and intimate look at a relationship with all the inherent failings and follies Only if you are able to forgive the mcs of this book their utter stupidities will you enjoy their story And there is much to like and love here – just as there are things that may put you off The mixed and extreme reviews are understandable but I for one loved both the mcs or were they three of them? their exchanges the push pull and the multi layered story The American heiress h and the French prince of Nowhere H get engaged as part of a business deal between the H and her father – sight unseen While on the way back to Europe from America after finalizing the ‘deal’ he sails home on the same ship as the h and her family and everyone’s uite unaware that they are all together on that same ship He was supposed to leave early but decides to take a later ship to be with his married mistress One night after a fight with the ow who boots him out –naked after learning of his engagement he comes across a flirtatious young girl leading on a poor besotted young man – allowing him some liberties but only thus far He is forced to eavesdrop from his hiding spot and is stunned to learn that the girl is actually his own described as sweet fiancée Not only that but she appears to be a vain couettish beauty who seems not only ready to testwiden her sexual powers and experience but also considers her European fiancé to be hideous and old His notoriously sensitive pride thus hurt he decides to seduce her as a stranger with his male majestic ness and teach her a fitting lesson Only he doesn’t realize ‘what a web we weave’With Spoilers view spoilerWhat’s to likeThe writing superlative It draws you in with its depth passion and the close and intimate feel of the mc's emotions and thoughtsI liked the slightly uncommon nationality combo for the hH – he’s a French Prince rare that and she’s an American heiress Also the author gives us a fresher setting the Edwardian era with its transatlantic steam liners early telephones bidets and the cumbersome water heaters and so on and the notion of wedding photography was also charming The H as an aristocratic perfumer is also believable and I liked how the perfume elements and allegory were thrown in here and there but at same time were not too overwhelming There aren’t too many secondary characters Thankfully the ow fades away both literally and figuratively for most parts after the initial overdose The h's parents and his uncle Tino provide an interesting background The parents are loving and approving of their much coveted aristocratic son in law while the uncle’s generally irate and suspicious of the hWhat’s to love Well the mcs And their chemistry They were a seemingly incongruous couple but were a perfect match and foil for each other in actualityBoth are uniue characterizations even with their shortcomings She’s a great beauty and conscious of it even a little resentful She’s also willful smart spoilt diplomatic and uite sophisticated for her age –all the makings of a legendary beauty Later in the story she’s confused unyielding self absorbed even cruel But she’s always relatable He’s lame one eyed but also eccentrically vain When the theme is of ‘beauty and the beast’ considerations of looks demeanors narcissism and vanity can surely be allowed in I liked him as bumbles his way through his ‘great romance’ – alternating between a sophisticated noble and a rebuffed little boy throwing tantrums His vanity is of ridiculous proportions and may I admit endearing Though it has to be said he shows the classic male signs of double standards – he makes love to her in the dark emphasizing the importance of other senses over sight a sort of aspirations to higher wisdom but then is so sensitive to her reactions to his not so perfect self in daylight His vanity hated to admit that he was anything other than fabulous to look upon Ugly Repulsive Horrifying He shuddered at these wordsSnarling dragging his heels through the emotions these stirred he owned up In a limited way In time she would see how handsome he was once she developed some discernment for the finer attributes of men But he’s not all shallow vanity He understands her than she understands herself His absolute adoration and adulation of the h is much obvious Sex is not overly graphic but underlying tenor is of hot and pulsing sensualityThey talk a lot which doesn’t always happen between hHs and he listens to her as well as counsels her – gently That he’s many a time hypocritical and manipulative is another detail But I found their interactions pre and post wedding uite fascinating and layered What may offend That he was so committed to his married mistress that he allowed himself to be her dirty secret for two years Although one look at the h and this 'serious' commitment evaporates with a poof For all that I couldn't imagine this man this H within love with a silly woman like this ow – she’s uite shallow and annoying actually He is portrayed as a multifaceted and remarkable man so a complex person as his ‘love interest’ would have been suitable But why am I complaining?And to still be involved with all signs of continuing it post wedding with the ow while being officially engaged to the h although he’s not met herAND to have sex with the h barely 48 hours after he’s been doing the same with the ow I’d have preferred some cooling off periodWhat’s debatableThe matter of the silly deception he gets intoand then keeps getting enmeshed deeper and deeper It also drags on and drags down the story towards the end But then that’s also the crux of the story It’s almost a love triangle The h’s first lover – who introduces her to the first flush of love and passion He deserts her and then she’s married to a stranger who repels her But slowly she discovers that she attracted to him despite herself She was surprised anew each time she realized how strangely appealing he was ‘Beau laid’ the French called it Handsome ugly alluring in the way that charmed against one's will What also became obvious was that he was used to handling a woman By the elbow by the waist by her fingers then letting go with a light stabilizing brush of her back The husband is patient caring and tolerant and gives her time and space to come around Perfect husband? More like a guilty fraud A large part of the book’s from the H’s pov especially the third portion And I loved reading his side of it But on the whole it’s the story about how a worldly and conceited beast was brought to his knees by the just out of schoolroom beauty and his own trickeriesThis is a kind of story that needs immersing in to be enjoyedand I loved it hide spoiler 45 starsThis is truly amazing when a book makes you feel such a range of emotions and sensations The way Ms Ivory writes is very sensual she appeals to all of the senses especially smell in this one How is that possible? Well it starts out because the hero Charles is in the business to make perfumes or grows the key ingredients for them like lavender and jasmine The descriptions are beautiful and clear I really felt like I could smell them Much of the story takes places on a ship I actually felt the sway of the ship reading about it And oh my goodness she writes romance which appeals to your heart mind and soul These two Charles and Louise or Lulu both are flawed and make many mistakes throughout the story I would on one hand love them and admire certain ualities while other times dislike them and wish they would mature and make better choices Nothing is worse than bad communication and misunderstandings and that's the very nature of how this is set up so it can be frustrating at times Beauty and the Beast is a favorite them of mine and this even reminded me of a book I previously read and loved Similar thing going on with a hidden identity and secrets What I loved The first part of the book when they were together on the ship Her Charles the Arab this guy was great Even though he set out to prank her he finds himself the fool over her I loved their honesty and friendship Louise could be hard to like because of her beauty and somewhat selfish nature But he made her analyze herself uestion things He helped her be a better person Maybe because he was so much older than her he knew how to teach her What I didn't likeCharles should have been working harder to make things work with Louise when they got married She should have been working hard too Then because she was so smart she was able to piece things together but he was still trying to outsmart her Why couldn't he come clean sooner? It wouldn't have taken away from the story Then the ending seemed rushed view spoiler Finally finally finally they put things aright Charles says to Louise Everything will never be all right Louise Like they say it's always something But dear one precious sweetness may I tell you All my roads lead to you no matter how crooked And all your roads lead to me Stay Stop your traveling Louise He blew gently into her face making her close her eyes turn arch slightly he said Let me blow cool air on all the stings inside you They probably wouldn't have a perfect marriage because of their flaws But hey who really has a perfect marriage? hide spoiler

About the Author: Judith Ivory

Judith Ivory accidentally acuired two degrees in mathematics then sold her first novel in 1987 and closed up the math books for good She lives in Miami Florida with her two children two cats and a dogJudith Ivory is the pseudonym of author Judy Cuevas real nameThe pseudonym was first used by her after publication of her last book as Judy Cuevas in 1996 Dance Her first book Star

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