The Beauty’s Beast
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ABOUT THE BOOK:
Lady Kathryn’s father sends her to court to find a husband, but being penniless and disinterested doesn’t bode well for her success. Bored by the petty intrigues of court, her frustration and loneliness are eased when the king charges her with the care of his newest acquisition: a wolf he and his hunters have recently captured. What the king doesn’t realize is his remarkable pet was once Gabriel, his favorite knight, cursed into wolf form by an unfaithful wife.
The beast’s too-knowing eyes and the way he understands and responds to her every utterance convince Kathryn he is more than what he seems. Resolving to restore him, she doesn’t count on the greatest obstacle being Gabriel himself. The longer he stays in wolf form as a captive of the court, the harder it becomes for him to remember his humanity and to fight his wolfish urges to maim and kill.
Only Kathryn’s affection and determination stand between Gabriel the wolf and Gabriel the man. But when the one who betrayed him returns to court, will Kathryn’s love be enough to keep Gabriel from exacting a brutish revenge that will condemn the wolf to death?
Lady Kathryn de Réméré understood where her duty lay. She did — truly. The hitch, though, the tricky part, the really twisty trouble was . . . Well, she was having a difficult time convincing herself that her duty was to do her duty.
The royal court had not taken part in a hunt since the marriage of the Princess Aliénor to their king a month previous. Kathryn had only been one of the queen’s ladies since Aliénor’s marriage, but in one short month Kathryn had grown very fond of her queen. She would do almost anything for her, but . . . did it have to be hunting?
Riding had never been one of Kathryn’s favorite pastimes. When her father had gambled away the funds necessary to keep their horses, the loss of her late mother’s bay mare had caused Kathryn only a small touch of regret.
Kathryn certainly liked horses, and riding could be pleasant, but this — this neck-or-nothing tear through the woods, the bouncing and jostling and branches hitting her in the face, and all the while the great brute below her ignoring all her most urgent instructions.
The horse recognized who was master, and it certainly was not the featherweight astride his back pulling ineffectually, and rather irritatingly, at his reins. He had his head now and would not have slowed for a rider twice as skillful as Kathryn.
Her horse broke from the group of hunters and went careening wildly off into the brush. A bare moment later, Kathryn tumbled forward off her horse’s neck, the ground rising up to meet her. She lay stunned in the damp leaves, the musty smell of the dirt thick in her nostrils, while the careless beast gleefully galloped back to his home stable for some oats and a good brushing down.
Worse yet, the hunt was on, and Kathryn would not be missed by her companions for some time yet.
Only slightly dazed, when her wits recovered sufficiently and the world stopped spinning, she stood with the aid of an obliging tree trunk and took in her surroundings. The lush forest possessed a heavy covering of brush on the ground, clustering around the roots of the tall trees. Kathryn put a hand to her chest, trying to calm her still-hammering heart. “Help! Anyone? Hello?” The forest swallowed her cries, and the only sounds around her now were the gentle rustlings of the trees. She swallowed sudden fear, stifling it, and started walking, hoping someone had noticed her difficulties and come looking.
She would be having a very long day if they had not.
Kathryn gulped in a deep breath, then tilted her head to listen as a strange noise caught her attention.
Barking, horses and — the high-pitched howl of a wolf?
I thought we hunted the hart this day. This thought was swiftly chased away by another and rather more alarming one: They’re coming this way. The crashing of hooves through the underbrush filled her ears, along with the bloodthirsty cries of the hunting dogs and the triumphant shouts of the men.
She stood at the edge of a small clearing. A hoyden in her youth, Kathryn still had a little difficulty maneuvering with her hampering skirts. But still she swung herself up quickly enough onto the first branch of the nearest tree. Just in time too. The king and his entourage, having trapped their quarry at last, came thundering into the clearing, trampling over the place where she had been standing.
The wolf smelled the dogs before he heard the sounds of the hunt echoing in his forest. The hounds scented him before they gave chase, howling and baying while they tracked his progress through the woods. The werewolf’s scent would drive the dogs mad, as the stench of magic always did the trick on poor beasts.
Ah, well. The wolf believed himself to be rather smarter than even the wiliest hunting dog and had tricks enough to bring himself safely home. He stretched his muscles then broke into a run, shoulders flexing, muscles singing at the exercise.
He caught a hint of smell then — the merest breath to fill his nostrils. But this was enough. A spasm of grief choked him, and a whine broke from his throat. The wolf stopped. He could not have moved if he’d wanted to — and he did not want to.
My king, he thought, just before the hounds caught up to him. He ran then, cursing himself as he darted between the trees and slogged through the tangles of underbrush. Idiot. You let one smell on the air distract you long enough for the bloody dogs to get your smell. And now what’s to do?
Befuddled and at war with himself, he fumbled through his escape, stumbling and taking wrong turns. His baser instincts pulled with every fiber of muscle for him to slip away and lose himself in the forest, foiling this hunt as he had so many others. His human heart and what parts of his head it still had sway over, urged him in the other direction — back to the humans. Back to the king.
The wolf’s hesitation, his dreadful indecision, gave the hunting dogs the edge, and the wolf wore himself out running from them and from himself. As he tried to speed ahead of the hunting pack, his mind betrayed him, thinking of his king when he should be strategizing a way out for his wolf’s body.
If he didn’t focus — and soon — the dogs would get him.
The werewolf found he didn’t care much.
“…a page-turner fairytale for the adult (or younger!) dreamer….I really enjoyed this tale! All of the main characters get a voice and have problems that they iron out through communication and truth AND in asides outside of the main two characters’ issues. Gabriel is, honestly, even more loveable as a wolf as he tries to become the man Katryn believe him to still be (maybe it’s the fur?), and I can definitely see myself in Kathryn, a very practical, witty, and compassionate handmaiden to the new queen (i.e. think a more demur, non-glamorous, and 16th Century Jennifer Cruisie heroine). How can you not like a book with a cheeky protagonist and a noble gentle-… were?”
~4 Stars from Megan at Night Owl Reviews
“Very well written…I highly recommend this book…”
~5 Tea Cups from Monica at Happily Ever After Reviews
I had been writing books since the end of sixth grade, but this was the first book I wrote as an adult, and the first book I’d written that I thought stood even a remote chance of being published. One night way back in 2006, I had the director’s cut of Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven(one of my very favorite movies, incidentally) on in the background while I was reading for a World Literature class.
The homework was Marie de France’s medieval poem “Bisclavret” about a cursed werewolf knight. Something about the confluence of the movie and the story struck a chord in me so I grabbed the nearest notebook and began furiously scribbling. I ended up writing a scene about a cursed knight trapped as a wolf–a wolf that finds himself being hunted for sport all unknowing by his former liege lord and friend, the king. In a matter of hours I had written the first scene of what would become The Beauty’s Beast.
This originally found a home with Noble Romance, but when they closed their doors in 2013 I decided to re-release it on my own, because I really do love this story. :)
*When I finished the first draft of this book in 2006, to celebrate, I rewarded myself by commissioning a painting of my two leads from an artist I love.
This was the painting from artist Nicole Chartrand: [Check her out, she does good stuff! :)]
*Another piece of art for the book came from my sister. She’s an artist and as a Christmas present to commemorate the release of the book she made me a set of paperdolls for The Beauty’s Beast.
I love these dolls so much I can’t even say. She exactly captured my internal image of the characters, but the clothes are better than anything I could have imagined! She actually put little wolf details on Kathryn’s wedding gown.
*You can see more of my sister’s art if you click here. If you are so inclined. ;P
*I always seem to end up having to change the names of things in my books. Originally, this book was titled Garwaf, which is an old Norman word for werewolf found in “Bisclavret.” Unfortunately, though I loved this title, no one else seemed to. At all. Certainly not the agents and publishers I sent it to. They probably thought it was the sound someone made while clearing their throat. All things considered, The Beauty’s Beast is probably a better fit for the book. I still call it Garwaf to myself, though.
*Kathryn’s name was also originally “Beau.” I even had to change the name of a horse in edits to give it a more girly name. Good grief.
*In the original poem, “Bisclavret,” which The Beauty’s Beast is loosely based upon, the evil wife has her nose bitten off by the wolf. Some scholars believe this is a subtle way of saying the wife contracted leprosy, because, in the medieval period, there was a belief that leprosy and being a werewolf were related in some way.
Spindle’s End and Beauty by Robin McKinley
I didn’t discover Robin McKinley until my late teens, but once I did I went on a tear and read at least half her backlist in one go. I’ve always been a fan of fairy tale retellings (which is part of why I wrote one…), but these two books made a big impression on me. I loved the wry humor in her characters and their brusque practicality. Another one of my favorite elements was the slow build of the romances in Spindle’s End; there’s a proposal scene in this novel that has to be one of the most romantic things I have ever read. I also loved, loved McKinley’s world-building and all its intricate, well-thought out detail.
The Brother Cadfael Series by Ellis Peters
Growing up I was always asking my mom for stuff to read, and I remember when she handed me my first Brother Cadfael mystery I was totally sucked into the world, and I binge-read the entire 20+ books in the series. Brother Cadfael is a cozy mystery series set in a Benedictine abbey during the English civil war between King Stephen and Empress Maude. The historical period is a little earlier than the one I’m writing in, and some of the research by Ellis Peters is out of date now, but I still remember how wonderful I thought Cadfael’s world was, the history, the community. And Cadfael himself, of course. He’s a wonderful hero and one of the characters in my book (the wry and worldly court magician Llewellyn) is a sort of homage to Cadfael. This charming series was a huge influence on me and a big part of the reason I wanted to write my own medieval-set story. (Of course mine has werewolves…)
The Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey
(Especially The Serpent’s Shadow and The Gates of Sleep)
This was my favorite fantasy series for a little while and the first two books were a big influence on how I wanted to write my own historical fantasies. I loved how Lackey would twist existing history to fit her fantastical elements in. I also appreciated how she incorporated various magical creatures like sylphs, fairies, and even Puck himself into her stories. But, of course, my favorite aspect was how she twisted the basic elements of each fairy tale. She changed things in new and interesting ways so that the bones of the original story were still there, and yet by the end the reader had something totally new and wonderful to enjoy.