Author: Celeste Baxendell
The only way to survive is to be brutal.
Aerona is a beast whose sole purpose is to protect the only fairies left. She won’t let anyone threaten them, so when a hunter tries to take her down and discovers the fairies in the process, Aerona has no choice but to take him captive to protect the secret.
While she wants nothing to do with him, when he discovers her human-like form, it’s no longer as easy. How long will she be able to fight her desire to be human again?
Chasen owes a debt to a dangerous wizard, and his family will pay the price if he doesn’t deliver. Fortunately, all Chasen has to do is capture the Beast. With an enchanted cloak protecting him, it seems simple enough until things go very wrong. Now he has to figure out how to capture the Beast with no weapons, no plan, and fairies watching his every move.
He has to win the Beast’s trust, but he’s never been good at deception and manipulation. With his sister’s life on the line, he can’t fail, but how will he live with himself if he succeeds?
Beasts of Beauty is the third novel in the Bewitching Fairy Tales series. Each novel in the series, so far, combines two retellings of known fairy tales and combines them to create a unique story. This novel takes Beauty and the Beast and Red Riding Hood and can be read as a standalone or as part of the series, although it is best to read the novels in order as a series. This story features Chasen, who was introduced as the “huntsman” in the previous novel, Mirrors of Ice, as the “Beauty” and “Red Riding Hood” and Aerona as the “Beast” and the “Wolf.”
Chasen’s family is kidnaped by a mysterious villain called The Scholar. His only hope to rescue them is to hunt the beast within the enchanted forest. He wears an enchanted red cloak given to his family for protection and sets out to try and locate the ferocious beast. When he discovers the beast’s enchanted castle that is also home to the last of the faeries, he is captured for this discovery. Within the castle lives Aerona, the cursed beast who also protects the faeries. Her curse places her as a wolf except for one hour each night.
The characters in this novel, and in the previous two, are all well-written. They are realistic with many flaws and complex natures. There are consequences associated with the mistakes and each character must learn from them. I greatly enjoyed how relatable the characters are even though they are set in a fictional and fantasy-filled world. While Chasen was more likable in the previous story, he was still a great character overall. While he is not perfect and can be frustrating at times, I greatly enjoyed reading about his journey in this story. Aerona makes mistakes of her own and struggles seeing herself as someone of worth. Her past is heartbreaking and it was heartwarming seeing her slowly grow throughout the novel.
Overall, this story was a fantastic addition to the series. With all the novels in the series, there is a great mix of deeper emotion and light-heartedness. There are darker themes of insecurities, fears, and grief where the stories provoke more emotions than usual expectations. While I have greatly enjoyed both previous novels, the series keeps getting better and better as this one is my favorite, so far. The gender-bending aspect was well-done and did not feel forced. The combination of the two tales within this retelling also weaved together well and felt like the they belonged together as a single story. The ending is unexpected, but satisfying and I cannot wait to read the next novel!
**I give a special thank you to Book Sprouts and the author, Celeste Baxendell, for the opportunity to read and review this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**