Historical Romance (with a touch of paranormal)
Thomas Dunne Books (Macmillan)
October 24, 2017
August 20-23, 2017
In a world of etiquette and polite masks, no one is who they seem to be.
Antonina Beaulieu is in the glittering city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she will attend balls and mingle among high society. Under the tutelage of the beautiful but cold Valérie Beaulieu, she hopes to find a suitable husband. However, the haphazard manifestations of Nina’s telekinetic powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.
Yet dazzling telekinetic performer and outsider Hector Auvray sees Nina’s powers as a gift, and he teaches her how to hone and control them. As they spend more and more time together, Nina falls in love and believes she’s found the great romance that she’s always dreamed of, but Hector’s courtship of Nina is deceptive.
The Beautiful Ones is a sweeping fantasy of manners set in a world inspired by the Belle Époque.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Oh goodness this book….
Okay, right off the bat I wasn’t crazy about his one. The blurb promised me telekinesis and I expected this big paranormal world with hidden superpowers or something. Instead, I got a Victorian romance.
Once I got over the disappointment that the telekinesis was really just used as a plot devise, (both the hero and heroine have this power), I really got involved with the story and the characters.
Let me warn you, right off the bat, that the main characters are not instantly likable.
Hector begins courting Nina just to be close to Valerie. He and Valerie, a decade before, had shared a whirlwind romance complete with a secret engagement. An engagement that she ended when she married another man—Nina’s cousin. Though he did things for the wrong reasons, it was easy to like and forgive Hector.
Nina is a so naïve at times it’s hard to root for her, but she grows so much as a character in this book.
And Valerie… well, to put it nicely, she is a selfish brat for 99.9% of this book. She has her reasons, but those reasons never justified all the wicked things she did in this reader’s opinion. She was an excellent villain.
This book is told in third person POV from all 3 of the aforementioned characters. Getting into each of their heads was really crucial to the execution of this story. Without each of their internal thoughts there’s no way a reader could feel anything except hatred, or at least annoyance, with them.
The story is also told in two parts and lasts the course of an entire year. When I reached the end of part 1 I was heartbroken. I was flipping pages like mad trying to get through part 2 to see the happy ending I wanted.
And in the end, the telekinesis played an important role in the story. It wasn’t just there to add something new and different. It actually was important to the plot.
So, should you read it? If you enjoy historical romances of epic proportions and are looking for something new and different…. and if you’re the kind of person who loves to see characters redeem themselves and get what’s coming to them, read this book. (There’s also a good old fashioned duel. No joke. It’s great!)
(From an advanced digital review copy. Actual print copy may differ.)
“It’s probably best if we exit this room now. A bachelor such as myself, a young lady such as yourself— we wouldn’t want to cause a scandal.”
“Do you make it a habit to go to balls, then, and creep into the library to brush up on your history?”
“Do you talk to all men in this manner?” he replied, growing more curious than irritated.
While her mother was expecting only a suitable match, Nina was hoping for the romance of a lifetime followed by the grandest wedding imaginable.
The universe was unveiling new wonders every day, motorcars and the photographic camera, to name but a handful of the inventions dazzling the world. She preferred to classify herself as one of these new wonders.
Valérie had shattered him. The intensity of emotion he felt in those days had vanished, and in its place there lodged a tepid, distant approach to everyone.
She was Gaetan’s cousin, but also one of those people, the country folk who seek to ingratiate themselves with the Beautiful Ones and must be repelled.
Perhaps he expected her to fail in this demonstration. But she had not been called the Witch of Oldhouse for no reason.
You’ve come to hurt me, Hector. You’ve come to toy with us. Feel free to toy with her. But you’ll find I am not a piece you can slide across your board.”
He tried to imagine what he might be like if he’d never laid eyes upon her, if they’d never spoken. Whether he might be happy or equally miserable. Perhaps he was predisposed to follies, the victim of a nervous ailment.
Hector had spent so many years being the man who loved Valérie that he could not conceive of becoming anything else. She was a goddess at whose feet he worshipped, and to cease in his adoration of her would imply he had spent a decade following a false idol.
“You don’t know how it was when I was small, how they’d taunt me for it. I didn’t mean to make the flour fly through the kitchen, I didn’t mean to make the stones rain or the porcelain shatter. It happened and they’d frown or they’d laugh or they’d say, ‘There goes the Witch of Oldhouse.’”
Valérie had never been gentle or simple. But her passion, tucked under her perfect exterior, had echoed the passion within him. They were both creatures of tempestuous seas and stormy nights.
“Why do they call it the Philosophers Club?”
“After a few drinks, all men become philosophers.”
The food there was excellent and the service appalling, which was a requirement at any chic restaurant.
She looked at him carefully, and saw a man. Not the romantic notion of a man she’d glimpsed before, her vision colored with memories of books and plays. A man, flawed and sad, who’d hurt her once , but whom she nonetheless esteemed.
“Do you think he is serious?” Hector asked.
“About what, breaking your jaw?”
She was the princess in storybooks, the embodiment of every girlish fantasy she’d ever had.
She felt, however, as if she were drowning and kept thrashing her legs in a futile attempt to remain afloat.
“What happens when you stop loving me?” he asked tersely.
That was the crux of the matter, the invisible dividing line on the floor.
“When you knocked on my door, I was half-dead. I had spent days dragging my sorry carcass around my room, convinced I would not see you again and wishing I could tear the world apart for this injustice.”
Nina giggled as he tried to undo the buttons of her dress. “Here?” she asked. “But the bed—”
“Books detailing the mating habits of beetles don’t explain everything, it seems.”
“You look as happy as a clam.”
“I would think clams cannot be happy, since they are mollusks who spend their days filtering water,” Hector replied.
My (writing) Life
Last week I got hit by a nasty bug, like, to the point where I went to The Urgency Room to get it checked out because I thought there was a chance I had strep. Turns out it’s just a nasty virus. I should have known better, I never have symptoms when I get strep – I just spread it. Just call me Typhoid Mary! Anyway, aside from a cough and stuffy nose I’m past the worst of it. The peak of horribleness was Thursday when I spiked a fever of 101.8 – at work! That was fun. NOT. At least I got paid to be sick though?
The good thing about being so sick and miserable those few days? I didn’t feel well enough to do any work for my publishing job, so I pretty much didn’t. That left me plenty of time to write. Yes, writing is work, but I can’t screw it up, like I could, say, formatting a book. Okay, I mean, I can screw it up, but I end up reading through my work 50 bazillion times (minor exaggeration) for errors anyway, so it didn’t matter. I ended up making great progress on Summer of Peace. I’m so excited for this series!
I’ve also had some EUREKA moments while planning out my YA contemporary romance series that’s coming next. By planning, I do I mean thinking of random details/plot points while doing other things. Usually listening to music. Current country music has been awesome for my writing.
So yeah, that’s about all that’s going on.
Has anyone else been hit by one of the nasty bugs going around?
I read this one, too, and loved it. I absolutely agree with everything you said here. It was fun to read your review and see what someone else thought.
I love a good book set in the Victorian era, though I don’t like other historical fictions. Lovely review. X
I saw this on Netgalley but due to the synopsis I didn’t request it, It didn’t seem interesting at all to me, but hearing all the great things you say I’m feeling like slap on the face right now.
I hate that!!!
I’ve had it happen a few times myself.
I’ll admit I really only requested this one because the cover was so beautiful. I just hoped the story lived up to it. Fortunately for me it did!
I love starting off hating a book and then trudging through to find out you actually love it!
It makes the end payoff that much sweeter!
Oh to be a Beautiful One…
I’m dying for this book!
It’s soooooo addictive! 🙂