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Review: To Beguile a Beast, Elizabeth Hoyt

After eleven years, Helen Carter is sick and tired of being the ignored mistress of the Duke of Lister.  Worse, she knows that if she leaves him, he’ll take her children, Jamie and Abigail, away from her.  So she flees, with the help of a friend, to a dirty castle in Scotland inhabited only by a taciturn, scarred war veteran.  Sir Alistair Monroe is used to children screaming at the sight of his twisted face and can’t imagine venturing outside his castle any time soon, preferring to write his books about nature in solitude.  When Helen and her children arrive in his life and embrace him despite his appearance, Alistair realizes that his world isn’t confined to his castle tower, but that he will indeed have to fight for what he loves.

I have been feeling a little bit burned out on romance novels lately.  I read a whole lot of them because I was stressed and eventually they all started to feel the same.  You’ll see this if you stick around to read more reviews later this month and next month.  This book, however, I loved, despite the fact that I felt weary of the genre.  In fact, it totally revolutionized my boredom with the formula because I felt it was good enough that I cared how the couple got to their happy ending.  It ceased to be a formula and became a wonderful love story, which is exactly what I look for in my romance.

I probably can’t even tell you why this is different.  I loved both characters; at first I didn’t think I was going to like Alistair, but once we learn a little bit about who he is and how he’s changed because of the war and his scars, it’s impossible not to feel for him.  Watching him resist his growing feelings for Helen just because she’s beautiful and he’s not, even though she clearly returns his affections, is heartwrenching and definitely had me rooting for their happily ever after.  Helen was a similarly interesting character, having been a mistress for years because it was easy for her and easy for her family once the Duke of Lister had got the idea in mind.  I liked her experience, it made her a little different from the blushing virgins who never have any idea what to do.  Surprisingly, I even loved Helen’s children.  I must be growing to like romances with children because I definitely felt they added to this story.  They were sweet and loveable and, most importantly, integral to the plot.

The fairy tale at the beginning of each chapter added to the story’s ethereal feel.  I like how each excerpt applied beautifully to the chapter it headed and I loved the fairy tale’s ending as much as I loved that of the actual book.  There is a bit of a mystery involved with regards to Alistair’s injury in the Colonies, but it isn’t completely resolved.  Since I jumped in with the third book of a series, I can only imagine that this is a continuous plotline and will be wrapped up in the fourth book.

To Beguile A Beast revived my flagging interest in romance with a wonderful story, great characters, and touching moments.  There is definitely a reason Hoyt has received so much praise in the romance community.  I’m thrilled that I have another of her books waiting for me.  If you enjoy the genre, this is a book worth reading!

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