Thursday, May 7, 2009

Book Review: To Beguile a Beast

To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Forever (May 1, 2009)

Rating: 4 out of 5
My Take: Despite a couple minor nitpickings in this review, I was very happy I went on a hunch and got the book. I carried it with me everywhere for the past week, even sneaking in a couple pages during breaks at a training conference I had to endure. It was different and not the same run-of-the-mill ton tale that are so prevalent on store shelves lately. Now I am thinking I have to read backwards, as this is tale 3 from "Legend of the Four Soliders." (But that should say something to it's ability to stand on its own...I hadn't realized I was in the middle of a series until I visited Ms. Hoyt's Web site.)

The Draw:

There’s always a draw when I come across a romance novel. Mostly it’s a recommendation I read from a friend, sometimes it’s the cover (kinda rare these days, though.), once in a while it’s a continuation of the author’s series. But this time, I read about Elizabeth Hoyt’s love of fairy tales and how this book is loosely based on the Beauty and the Beast tale. As a fairy tale and mythology junkie, I couldn’t resist.


Helen Fitzwilliam, a single mother with two children who has been the mistress of a Duke since she was 17. Helen, with her children, has recently fled from the Duke to hide out in a Scottish castle.

Sir Alistair Munroe is a scarred and withdrawn naturalist who lives in said filthy Scottish castle. He doesn’t like visitors, children, sunshine, laughter, joy…you get the picture. But he has his reasons for not liking them.

Abigail and Jamie, Helen’s 9-year old daughter and 5-year old son from Lister. Cute kids in the story. I’m not sure why, but they remind me of Nicole Kidman’s children in the movie “The Others.” (Though way less creepy, I promise!)

Plot Synopsis:

Helen is on the run from her former, married lover, the Duke of Lister. Lister is a powerful man who will take her children (his children) from her if she disobeys him. A friend helps her escape to Alistair’s castle, where her reception is less than pleasant. Helen must convince Alistair to let her and her children remain. At the same time, Lister and his men are on the hunt for them.


This is the first novel I’ve picked up by Ms. Hoyt and I enjoyed it. A lot. I had issues here and there with characterization and a couple concepts and phrases that didn’t really belong in 1765, but big deal. To me, I’m reading a historical romance for the romance part—the relationship developing between Ms. Heaving Bosom and Mr. Manly. I forgive words like “groceries” popping up. Big deal.

I thought the development of the relationship was well done and it kept me awake past my bedtime two nights in a row. I thought Ms. Hoyt did a fantastic job at developing Alistair and it was mostly his character that kept me devoted to the story when my eyes were burning and it was approaching 2 a.m.. Helen was certainly believable with plenty at stake, but she didn’t “shine” as much or “grow” as much as Alistair, though she seemed equally as damaged as he.

To be honest, when I first read about Helen, I was resistant to the fact that she was unmarried, in her 30s’, and a former mistress. Kinda like “Whoa! Too much reality for a Tuesday night!” but she grew on me as well. Often, heroines are cookie cutters and really could traipse from story to story without the reader missing them or noticing the replacement. While I think Helen could have grown a little more throughout the arc of the story, I thought she was one of the most original heroines I’ve come across in a long time.

The two leads had incredible chemistry. I loved reading the scenes of them together, stealing away a few moments. It was great. It absolutely made the book in my opinion.

[SPOILER ALERT: Skip this paragraph if you don't want too many clues about the ending!]
I felt a tad disappointed by the neat wrap up of the book in regards to Lister. He’d be bested, but would a man like that really just let them go back home and be happy? Would an ego-maniac with control issues just shrug his shoulders and let Helen win? I didn’t think so and it just seemed to end too quickly and easily for me, in regards to the external conflict. I expected more of an earned happy ending with these two, especially considering how damaged and bruised (emotionally and physically) they were when they met, and how high their stakes were.

It was worth the price of the book, to me, and I enjoyed it despite my very small misgivings. The bond between the characters was especially strong and well-earned. It didn't seem contrived to me, and I actually reread a few of the "warm and fuzzy" scenes. (Not to be confused with the "hot and sweaty" scenes, which didn't disappoint, either!) The rest, well, the rest is just details. If you’re a stickler for details and whether or not the word “grocery” existed in the 1700s, I’d suggest another book. But if you love fairy tales and strong ties between characters, To Beguile a Beast might just do the trick.

The Author:

(Taken from Ms. Hoyt's awesome Web site. Visit it here at

Elizabeth Hoyt is a USA Today bestselling author of historical romance. She also writes deliciously fun contemporary romance under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in central Illinois with three untrained dogs, two angelic but bickering children, and one long-suffering husband.

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