Saturday, February 20, 2021

Review: The Beast of Beswick

I have a lot of favorite tropes and "Beauty and the Beast" is right near the top. I'm a sucker for most fairy tale tropes in general and to be perfectly blunt there's a reason that writers throughout millennia keep going back to them over and over againThe Beast of Beswick by Amalie Howard happened to land in my TBR pile and after I told the SoCal Bloggers about it - we decided it would be our next buddy read.  My reaction to it was decidedly mixed.

Lady Astrid Everleigh is 25, a bluestocking, and ruined. During her one and only Season she spurned Edmund Cain, Lord Beaumont. He then proceeded to spread lies about her being a wanton harlot and the rest is history.  Well now Lord Beaumont has come sniffing back around like the worst sort of alley cat - not for Astrid mind you - but for her younger sister, Isobel.  Their parents dead, they're now at the mercy of their uncle who wants to see the match with Beaumont made because "reasons."  Well Astrid isn't about to let that happen.  The odious man ruined one sister, he's not getting his claws into poor, sweet Isobel.  There's only one viable solution - Astrid needs to marry and quickly. Then Isobel's fate would be for her husband to decide - and Astrid has the perfect candidate.  Someone powerful and with a fearsome reputation.  Someone who will frighten the bejesus out of her uncle and Beaumont to the point where they'd have to back off.  And that someone is Lord Nathaniel "Thane" Harte, Duke of Beswick - AKA The Beast of Beswick.

Nearly killed in the war, Thane returned home severely wounded and scarred.  "The spare" - his father took one look at his hideously disfigured son and expired of a heart attack.  Then his older brother, the heir, dies in a riding accident - leaving Thane with a dukedom he never wanted but now has.  He's hidden himself away leaving the gossiping ton to tell all manner of stories.  He spends his days destroying his father's priceless porcelain collection with a cricket bat and being belligerent towards his servants.  And now in waltzes Lady Astrid, bold as brass, proposing a marriage of convenience.  It's the last thing he expects, the last thing he wants, but the very thing he needs.

This is a perfectly pleasant Regency historical that follows the typical "lighthearted" formula.  There's the servants who act familiar, the snarling hero whose bark is worse than his bite, the blue-stocking heroine with a quick wit, a delightfully bawdy Aunt, and enough verbal jousting to melt even the most cynical of reader hearts.  I liked most of the secondary characters and I loved Thane and Astrid together.  They're truly a delight when they're on page together.

So where did it all go wrong?  Well it went on and on and on and on forever.  Seriously.  Like I never thought I was going to finish reading it.  Amazon says the print version clocks in at 384 pages and it reads like it.  Oh man does it read like it.  This book easily could have lost 84 pages and been the better for it.  Heck, it could have probably lost a solid 100 and been dynamite.  But as it is it drags on to the point that the witty banter and light historical vibe soon starts to resemble an anvil hanging around my neck, my eyes glaze over, and Dear Lord when is this book going to end?!

Honestly this was probably around a B/B- for me for the first half, but the longer it drags on, the more the pacing pulls out like salt water taffy at the county fair, any good will I had started to die a slow, agonizing death.  To make matters worse, I pretty much spent the whole book wanted to smack Isobel - which means while I might be inclined to read another book by this author, it surely is not going to be the next book in this series.  I barely tolerated her as a secondary character, I can't imagine slogging through a whole book where she's the heroine.

In the end this is promising but needed a much more ruthless editor.  Someone to slash and burn meaningless scenes and tighten up the entire proceedings.  In other words, this needed to be a Harlequin Historical.  It did not need to be 384 pages of indulgence that turned into slogging funeral dirge.  Promising but ultimately a trial.

Final Grade = C

10 comments:

Laura Hunsaker said...

That’s so frustrating when books do this :/

azteclady said...

When perfectly good turns into "barely made it to the end" because it lacked a good editor, I really feel for the author (unless it's self-published, then it's more a wince, you know?)

Jen Twimom said...

I was getting ready to add this to my list based on the start of your review, but I do hate a book that goes on and on for no reason. Not a good note to go downhill.

Wendy said...

I kept looking down at my Kindle while reading it and was like, "damn, I've still got 40% (etc.) to go?!" I felt like I had run a marathon by the time I got to the sappy epilogue.

Keira Soleore said...

I have heard good things about this book from a few quarters, so I've been debating whether to pick it up. But your review sealed the deal. I won't. There is nothing more tedious than a category stretched out to a single title. I will also say the huge kerfuffle over one of the author's books (was it pulled?) made me hesitate more whether to pick one of her books up or not.

Wendy said...

Keira: It's funny because I read the AAR review this morning and the reviewer was like "This started out a B and ended up a D." And that was basically my experience!

There was a kerfuffle about an upcoming release and to the author's credit - she responded (I thought) beautifully to the concerns. But some other authors decided to pile on by dragging bloggers/reviewers and basically showed their behinds. I've still got lingering feelings about that actually....

eurohackie said...

Interestingly enough, I went looking to see who published this, and I note that this author's next book will be an October 2021 release with a new publisher (Sourcebooks) and a new length - HH length, to be precise :) Maybe someone heard the complaints, LOL!!

k said...

I'm going to have to read this one even if it is only a C read. I love a beauty and the beast trope but even more than that, Thane is my maiden name, though spelled differently. Mine was/is Thain.

k said...

And why is only k coming up when its really me,KristieJ?

Wendy said...

Eurohackie: I'd be interested in reading a future book by her if the blurb tickles my fancy. The next book in this series is out now, but since I really did not care for the sister, it's one I won't be adding to my pile.

Kristie: I'm guessing you have more than one Google account? You're logged into "K" but not "KristieJ?" That's my theory!

I once read a book because the heroine had the same name as my grandmother. A name that's gone out of fashion with contemporary times: "Mamie." Alas, the book ended up being a DNF but I still live to hope for more Mamie's in historical romances.