Bella and the Beastby Olivia Drake
Series: Cinderella Sisterhood #4
Published on November 3, 2015 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: Publisher (via NetGalley)
Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Bella Jones' father, Sir Seymour Jones, was an explorer/adventurer who revealed to her on his deathbed that the late Duke of Aylwin, whom he helped inquire antiquities in Egypt, had promised him half of a pharaoh's treasure. However, Bella must find the map to the hidden trove to prevent her and her brother and sister from living in poverty.
Bella takes a job as a curator working for the late duke's son to help him catalogue his father's artifacts in London. She doesn't reveal who she is or what her motives are, but when the attraction between them because impossible to ignore, the issue of the hidden treasure becomes a more complicated secret than either of them could ever imagine.
Finally, a romance about a scholar!
Well, two scholars, which really just makes it better. At least for the most part. Well. Okay, this book had some issues but I was still happy to see the intellectual types as the main characters.
Bella’s father traveled the world studying ancient artifacts until passing away and leaving her and her younger siblings a cottage in Oxford with little money to get by. Because of this, Bella jumps on the chance to take a position with the beastly Duke of Aylwin, Miles, who is the son of a former colleague of her father’s. Connections, y’all.
Anyway, you can probably see how this is going to go. They end up in his house together, working side by side, she brings out his gentler side as the beauty to his beast, cue happily ever after. Oh, and throw in the hunt for a treasure map for good measure.
Where this book took a turn for the worst is the way Miles treats Bella on several occasions. He is truly beastly, forcing himself on her both knowingly and also in situations where he’s supposed to be so caught up in his work that holding a woman’s leg well above her skirts doesn’t phase him (despite distressing Bella and also in that time period, simply not appropriate). Time and again he’s just a jerk to Bella and everyone around him which didn’t endear him to me at all.
Now I am glad that Bella was a strong character on her own and put him in his place several times over but I never quite got the attraction between them after the way he acted. I know it’s a retelling and a romance so there’s going to be a happy ending but I guess I wanted Miles to be less of a beast in the crossing lines/verbally abusive way because it really wasn’t necessary. If Disney can manage it, so could this story.
And yet. . . I did enjoy this book to a degree. I loved the concept of the two of them examining ancient Egyptian artifacts because it made the book stand out, and the rest of the story was entertaining. There was a bit of mystery that wasn’t terribly hard to figure out but did up the tension a bit. Bella and Miles had plenty of heat too so for that side of things, they were covered. My issues centered around the way Miles acted and the romance that ensued despite his behavior.
I’ll say that I’m definitely interested to read the other books in this series, especially as there seems to be a central character who plans out each of these pairings and has an interesting backstory of her own. This one wasn’t a winner for me due to the problems mentioned but the writing was good and I look forward to seeing what other fairy tales Drake tackles in the rest of the series.