Author: Amanda Ashley
Release Date: 2 September 2014
Publisher: Zebra/ Kensington
Fair of face and figure, Kristine is young, innocent, pure. Yet she has been condemned to the gallows for killing a man. The only one who can save her is a lord so infamous that some say he is the son of the Devil himself…
And the Beast
Erik Trevayne is called the Demon Lord of Hawksbridge Castle, but few know of the curse he lives under. Or the terrifying changes slowly gnawing away at his humanity. When he weds her, all he wants of Kristine is a son. But when he beds her, a wild hope is born—that love that can tame even the most monstrous of beasts...
I am a huge fan of Beauty and the Beast retellings, and as I started to read this, it became apparent that there is also a bit of a Phantom of the Opera theme too. So really, that got me all kinds of excited, my two favourite stories in one- hell yeah!
Kristine is a very sweet girl, and a surprisingly robust heroine. A slightly odd way to describe her, but it fits. Kristine is waiting to be hanged when she is saved by a mysterious and sinister Lord, who wishes to marry her immediately. Despite this whirlwind of events and her fear, Kristine resolves to be the best wife she can be. She is very innocent and naive, but she has a very clear way of thinking that I appreciated. It would be far too annoying to have a heroine in this story who acted too much the part of a damsel in distress. Kristine's love for Erik grows slowly but he earns her unflinching loyalty and devotion towards the end.
Erik is a very sympathetic character. It's very easy to empathise with his pain and loneliness. The curse from his former mother-in-law is slowly turning him from man to beast, but he's determined to uphold his promise to his deceased father to have an heir before it's too late. Hence his reasons for marrying Kristine. He doesn't want to care for her because he knows that he won't be able to stay with her for much longer, but her sweetness slowly crumbles his barriers. He repeatedly tries to push her away but she doesn't let him.
I liked Erik and Kristine's relationship. It developed at a natural pace, though they had chemistry almost immediately. Despite the chemistry, I did think that the sex scenes were too brief which made it feel lacking in intimacy. Particularly in the beginning when Kristine was just performing her duty.
I struggled with the world building in this book. I couldn't quite figure out what the time period was meant to be, apart from that it must have been pre-1900. The paranormal aspects also confused me slightly because there seemed to be an open acceptance of the existence of witches and wizards, but not other kinds of creatures.
Personally, I found that the latter third of the book became too busy. I kind of wish that some aspects of the story (ie the werewolves) hadn't been introduced because it felt rather random.
There are some things that didn't work for me and brought my enjoyment down a bit, but at its core this is a very sweet, slow burning romance with an interesting plot that definitely left me intrigued with each new development. Overall, it's an enjoyable historical romance with paranormal aspects that will appeal to fans of Beauty and the Beast retellings.
*I received a review copy for my honest opinion. Thank you!
About the Author
Amanda Ashley is one of those rare birds—a California native. She's lived in Southern California her whole life and, except for the earthquakes, she loves it. She shares a home with her husband, as well as an adorable Pomeranian named Lady, a wild house sparrow named Tweety, and a tortoise who remains nameless. Amanda and her alter ego, Madeline, have written 60 books. Not bad for someone who started writing just for the fun of it. Her books regularly appear on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.