Beasts of Beauty

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Beasts of Beauty: A Beauty and the Beast and Little Red Riding Hood Retelling by Celeste Baxendell (Bewitching Fairy Tales book 3)

In order to save his friends Eirwen and Sterling, Chasen promised a favor to a powerful man. Now the Scholar has come to collect and he’s holding Chasen’s sisters hostage to ensure he fulfills his part of the contract. The task is simple for a hunter like Chasen: find the Beast and bring it back alive. But once Chasen steps into the enchanted forest with only his crossbow and magical red cape for protection, he quickly learns that not all is as it seems.

Aerona is a beast who lives only to protect the fairies. With so few of them left, she’ll do anything to keep them safe, including taking the hunter captive. Now if she can only keep him from finding out about her human form, she can keep the fairies a secret. He can’t know she has a weakness. He can’t know how vulnerable she really is.

But as the two grow closer, and the Scholar puts more pressure on Chasen, the pair must face more than one impossible choice.

Just because there are flowers in this world doesn’t mean the mountain’s peak is any less breathtaking.

I absolutely loved this story. It was a beautiful gender-bent mashup of Beauty and the Beast with Little Red Riding Hood. The themes of this book were absolutely heartbreaking as Aerona struggled with what it means to be human. The impossible choices both she and Chasen faced had me torn in two.

(My one complaint is that halfway through, Aerona suddenly started to be described as a “two-ton wolf.” That’s how much a Clydesdale weighs. Most wolves don’t even weigh two hundred pounds.)

Aside from that one nitpicking thing, this book was expertly crafted. The little details that revealed the truth of Aerona’s past were layered like the petals on a rose. And that reveal near the end was just perfect.

Five roses
No swearing – Characters swear a few times, but no words are written out. Ex: “He swore.”
Kissing – A few times, but nothing passionate or excessive.
Injuries – Plenty, but blood isn’t described in any detail.