Beauty and the Highland Beast
Author: Lecia Cornwall
Reviewer: Una & Vampbard
What We’re Talking About:
A special treat for TWITA fans, a joint review from Una and Vampbard (VB)!
Una picked up Beauty and the Highland Beast, simply because Beauty and the Beast is one of her favorite fairy tales. That it is in a highland setting – win-win (one word: kilts)! Though she didn’t know what to expect, she was pleasantly surprised by how gripping and compelling this novel was. She thoroughly enjoyed it. The setting is fascinating; the fairy tale is woven within the story in such a way as to be a subtle thread. She really felt it was not overdone but an enhancement to the story of Fia and Dair. Their romance and the turmoil their find themselves in was nail-bitingly suspenseful.
VB was pretty geeked about reading Beauty and the Highland Beast as well. A Beauty and the Beast retelling plus Scots in kilts? What’s not to love! She agrees with Una—the BatB plotline was a subtle undercurrent to the story. By the time she got to the end, she felt like it was more inspiration rather than a retelling.
One of the things for VB that stood out was the great way the families were highlighted. It’s not unusual for the time period to have great and extended family living as a unit. The Sinclair clan were the ones we got to see the most, because the story took place in their castle, on their lands. Historically, there were midwives and many times they were associated with witchcraft. Celebrating Pagan holidays and rites was done behind closed doors after some of the clans introduced Christianity. Kudos to Ms. Cornwall for getting the historical elements important to VB correct. Another thing—the description. *swoons* It wasn’t overdone, it kept readers in the story, and it seemed to be exactly the right amount at the right time. The pacing was excellent. Oh. Gaelic. YUMMY!
Una agrees! Though what helped was that the language as written didn’t overly emphasize the Scottish accent (which can slow down the story and get rather annoying). It was used appropriately to reinforce the background and keep us immersed in the setting. There is nothing worse than getting bogged down in translating accents (or maybe that is just me since I pronounce stuff wrong all the time…). Though due to the historical period some things were foreshadowed and certain plot lines predictable, but Ms. Cornwall surprised us with logical twists and turns that kept the story fresh all while keeping in the time period.
Both Una and VB thought the most significant supporting characters were very appropriately involved. Fia’s sister, Meggie, and Dair’s friend, English John, provided the balances both main characters needed. They also helped in surprising ways when the main characters needed support. Una and VB were rather impressed with the characterization of the devil spawn feline, Beelzebub, or Bel. It seemed as though this tomcat was introduced to be a bridge for Fia in her new location, and it was absolutely perfect. Plus, Bel reminded Una of her own beloved devil cat from her childhood (Banshee – she was aptly named). Moira O’ the Spring gave us wizened words of wisdom that propelled the story forward and alluded to things yet-to-transpire.
VB definitely could identify with Dair, a.k.a. Alasdair Og. He’s definitely an unlikely hero. Tortured Alpha. Her favorite!!! He’s definitely a protector. It seems as though he’s happiest when he’s got someone to care for. In the past, we’re allowed to see that it was his cousin, Jean. By the end of the book, there’s some potentially squicky things that are resolved, and Dair is firmly in Camp Fia. With all that Dair had been through, he was worried most—initially—about his looks and appearing a monster. People go through stuff all the time that change them. We were given the opportunity to watch Dair change and blossom through the story—and some of those parts were really rocky. VB was unsure as to whether he’d actually make it through, let Fia in, and get his HEA.
What Una loved about Dair was that what made him a beast weren’t the exterior scars, it was the interior ones. Once he was able to accept and heal, the exterior ones didn’t matter. Dair was a seriously lovable tortured alpha. Though Una wasn’t sure until later what the relationship Dair had with Jean (and it was blurred purposefully now that she thinks about it), his journey required him to forgive himself. Una loves redemption stories and this one is a classically powerful one, the alpha must forgive himself to heal.
There is so much common ground between Una and Fia. It was so easy to put Fia’s shoes on and feel as if Una was the one in the story. Her gentle and compassionate steel core was so powerfully written. Her quiet but stubborn will as she easily sacrificed for the needs of others while giving herself little to no regard. Fia was the mouse that conquers the lion. Unsurprised and not bothered when used or betrayed, but soldiering on. To watch her as she becomes the most beloved over her sister in Dair’s land was heartwarming. Una loved it when she was rightfully defended and claimed.
Fia. You guys, I absolutely adore this perfectly imperfect main character. Fia was injured as a small child and bears the scars and limp from that event. Moreover, the emotional damage done from that event continues to plague her. She starts the story as the mousy one—the one always forgotten. Transplanted to a different place, one that doesn’t know her history, Fia is allowed to outshine her beautiful sister. This is rare, as Fia is one of a dozen daughters borne to the Fearsome MacLeod. She leads a sheltered life before coming to Carraig Brigh—lands of the Clan Sinclair. Describing Fia in one word is easy: compassion. She grows in her compassion throughout the story, too. At first, it’s really superficial. As we watch her relationship with Dair develop and progress, we’re treated to a rare glimpse of someone who’s lived with imperfection, and been beaten down because of it. Watching her grow as a person was definitely comparable to watching a caterpillar spin a cocoon and emerge a butterfly.
Containing action and adventure, betrayal, loyalty, and most definitely romance, Beauty and the Highland Beast was a great read. If you’re not a fan of the traditional historical (VB definitely isn’t!), but love a man in a kilt, this is definitely a title you should look up. And…there’s more coming! When a Laird Finds a Lass is due out Fall 2016, per Ms. Cromwell’s website. Una and VB are eager to get our hands on it!
Our Rating: A, Loved It
About the Book:
Powerful and dangerous highlander Dair Sinclair was once the favored son of his clan, The Sinclairs of Carraig Brigh. With Dair at the helm, Sinclair ships circled the globe bringing home incredible fortune. Until one deadly mission when Dair is captured, tortured and is unable to save his young cousin. He returns home breaking under the weight of his guilt and becomes known as the Madman of Carraig Brigh.
When a pagan healer predicts that only a virgin bride can heal his son’s body and mind, Dair’s father sets off to find the perfect wife for his son. At the castle of the fearsome McLeods, he meets lovely and kind Fia MacLeod.
Although Dair does his best to frighten Fia, she sees the man underneath the damage and uses her charm and special gifts to heal his mind and heart. Will Dair let Fia love him or is he cursed with madness forever?
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Publisher: Swerve (an imprint of Macmillan)
Series: A Highland Fairytale #1
Genre: Historical Romance
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley