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Beauty and the Beast Audio CD – Unabridged, November 30, 2021
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About the Author
Hannah Howell is the New York Times bestselling author of over forty historical romance novels, including the Highland Brides series and the Wherlocke series. A two-time recipient of the Golden Leaf Award, she has been a RITA Award finalist and has garnered several awards from Romantic Times magazine.
Mary Jane Wells (a.k.a. McAllister Lee) is a British actress, writer, voice-over artist, and Earphones Award and Audie Award-winning narrator. A graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, she held a recurring role on the BBC's Half Moon Investigates and narrated the BBC Three television show My Children, which won a Scottish BAFTA.
- ASIN : B0B3BLZVDT
- Publisher : Tantor Audio; Unabridged edition (November 30, 2021)
- Language : English
- ISBN-13 : 979-8212094672
- Item Weight : 8.3 ounces
- Customer Reviews:
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Betrothed to the heir of Saitun Manor, lovely Gytha was shocked to learn on the eve of her wedding that her bridegroom had been killed. Caught up in a whirlwind beyond her control, she found herself married to the new heir, a rough mercenary knight called the Red Devil.
Unsuited to gallantry and the wooing of fair maidens, the Red Devil had never sought a beautiful wife. But now Gytha was his, and her honey gold hair and sparking blue eyes bewitched him. He knew of only one way he could hope to bind her to him - with the passionate ardor of his warrior's body, and the undying love hidden deep in his lonely heart.
Hannah Howell's vision of this classic and timeless romance takes place in medieval England during the year 1365. It was originally published in 1992 and should really be called "Beauty and the Red Devil" in my opinion. Other than Thayer's brawn there wasn't much of the beast about him, though Gytha was definitely a beauty who charmed me from the very beginning. I'm a big fan of Ms. Howell's and after enjoying a couple of her books recently, I went through my backlist and found this one that for some reason I had never read before. The story started out really well and I thought I was going to love it, but unfortunately ended up having a few issues with it instead.
First of all I absolutely loved Gytha, but Thayer was another matter altogether. While I liked him to an extent, his insecurities (he's big, red, and plain) started to get on my nerves. But the real kicker was when he explains to Gytha about his ex-lover, and admits that he still stayed with that despicable woman even after everything she had said and done. I was quite disgusted with him at that point and later too, when he confesses to finding himself "but a breath away from accepting Lady Elizabeth's freely offered favors." This last was said after he and Gytha are married and although he never actually cheats, the fact that he thought about it didn't make me like him any more.
With that being said I think the story flowed well and was a quick and easy read. The passion and attraction between this couple was obvious from the start and was shown in the many love scenes. Except for the times when Gytha and her cousin got on a rant about feelings, it was otherwise fast paced and not too predictable. There were plenty of surprises and even a nice twist at the end that I didn't see coming. Overall it was okay, but Thayer just wasn't my type of hero and I wish Gytha had wound up with Roger, his first-in-command instead. Still, what bothered me may not bother you so if it sounds like something you'd enjoy, then give it a try and share your opinion =)
Overall I enjoyed the book; it held my interest, had a nice romance, and even included some intrigue, so I was happy. It's by no means the dynamic tale I was hoping for, but at least it wasn't a mediocre read. Furthermore, I enjoyed Ms. Howell's writing style, and her characters are all well drawn and relatable. I particularly liked the protagonists, Gytha and Thayer--although the names do leave a lot to be desired. LOL
Gytha is contracted to marry the heir of Saitun. When William, the current Baron of Saitun and her intended, is declared dead, Gytha must marry Thayer, the new heir. Thayer--the so-called beast--is large, with bright red hair, freckles, and is plain of face. When Gytha first meets Thayer; however, all she sees are his beautiful brown eyes. Gytha is an exquisite beauty. Most men who see her, want her. Unfortunately, Thayer is not like most men. The thought of having such an exquisite wife is a source of mental anguish for him. He has no doubts that he will spend the rest of his life tripping over lovesick courtiers, and being cuckolded by his wife. All Thayer's beliefs are based on his past experience with a beautiful, high-born lady, who was his first love, and who treated him abominably. As far as Thayer is concerned, he is too plain, and Gytha is too beautiful, ergo the two make a horrible combination.
Notwithstanding, once the two marry, they begin to establish a amicable relationship, based on mutual liking and respect. Unfortunately, Thayer cannot let go of his conviction that at some point, Gytha will turn to another man. Gytha is aware that Thayer is holding something back, but doesn't know what it could be. As her feelings for Thayer develop into love, she becomes determined to uncover what it is that her husband is hiding, so the two can have a happy, fulfilling marriage. Although Thayer is determined not to fully trust Gytha, he can't stop himself from falling in love with his wife. As she becomes more and more necessary to his happiness, he begins to fear that he will be broken when--not if--she takes a lover.
The story is chock full of intrigue, what with a murder plot against Thayer, a man who will stop at nothing to have Gytha as his own, kidnapping, and Thayer's former lover, who is determined to win him back in her bed. The story that unfolds is engaging, fast-paced, and action-packed.
Unfortunately, it was also too long--and I'm not talking page count. What I mean to say is that the story dragged on for far longer than it should have. In my view, the last 50 pages or so could have been eliminated. The portions of the story included in those pages added absolutely nothing to the book, and in actuality took away from the enjoyment of the read. IMVHO, the book should have ended after Thayer rescues Gytha from her kidnappers. Had the couple confessed their love at that point, and the book ended, it would have been darn near perfect--up until that point I was prepared to give it a solid 4 star rating, maybe even 4 1/2 stars. Alas, as the story continued on, my enjoyment decreased, and by the time it ended it had fallen short of a 4 star rating.
I'd also like to comment on an issue that arose in another review for this book. In that 1 star review, it was mentioned that Thayer continued to sleep with the woman who gave birth to his child and then tried to smother it, and that he only stopped sleeping with her after she "hurt his feelings." When I read that review I was left with the impression--though I'm fairly certain that was not the reviewer's intent--that these events were ongoing (that they had occurred during the marriage between Gytha and Thayer, or very shortly before the two got married.) Consequently, had I read that review before I purchased the book, I probably would not have purchased this book. In the event that there are others who, after reading that particular review, may also get the same impression I did, I felt I should expound on the issue of the murdering baby mama (or more accurately the "attempted" murdering baby mama.) LOL
As a young man, Thayer fell in love with the beautiful Elizabeth--this is the woman who later tries to cause problems between Gytha and Thayer--a vile, self-centered, evil bitch. She wielded an unholy power over the young, naïve Thayer and played mercilessly on the deeply held feelings he had for her. When Elizabeth gives birth to his son, and Thayer proposes marriage, she laughs in his face, and pretty much tosses him--and their child--to the side. Thayer learns that she had tried to abort his son prior to his birth, and when that failed, she later tried to smother the baby. (FYI, Thayer was away during the pregnancy and birth.) Thayer is left to raise his son alone, as Elizabeth refuses to even acknowledge the child's existence. Instead she pursues an advantageous marriage. Sometime later, when Elizabeth is a married woman, she and Thayer resume their affair. There can be NO argument against the fact that at that point Thayer is all kinds of a pathetic fool, or worse. My purpose is not to excuse his idiocy, but merely to inform you of the events that occurred. More importantly, you should know that this situation with Elizabeth occurred some ten years before Thayer's marriage to Gytha.
So, the bottom line is, although the book was not the compelling story I was hoping for, it was, nonetheless, pretty good, and I enjoyed it very much. Thus, I will definitely be reading more from Ms. Howell in the near future. Moreover, I would recommend this book as a worthwhile read. FYI, this is not a clean romance. Though I have to say that Ms. Howell's sex scenes are quite a bit milder than some I've read by other authors. Happy reading!