|To Beguile A Beast
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CAN A WOUNDED BEAST . . .
Reclusive Sir Alistair Munroe has hidden in his castle ever since returning from the Colonies, scarred inside and out. But when a mysterious beauty arrives at his door, the passions he's kept suppressed for years begin to awaken.
TRUST A BEAUTY WITH A PAST . . .
Running from past mistakes has taken legendary beauty Helen Fitzwilliam from the luxury of the ton to a crumbling Scottish castle . . . and a job as a housekeeper. Yet Helen is determined to start a new life and she won't let dust-or a beast of a man-scare her away.
TO TAME HIS MOST SECRET DESIRES?
Beneath Helen's beautiful fa?ade, Alistair finds a courageous and sensual woman. A woman who doesn't back away from his surliness-or his scars. But just as he begins to believe in true love, Helen's secret past threatens to tear them apart. Now both Beast and Beauty must fight for the one thing neither believed they could ever find-a happy ever after.
- Another keeper!
Other reviews have summarized this loosely "Beauty and the Beast"-themed book better than I could, so I'd rather point out some of my favorite things about Elizabeth Hoyt's books. I love how NONE of her heroes and heroines are perfectly handsome, perfectly groomed, perfectly mannered cardboard cutouts - or if they appear to be, we soon learn there is a lot going on under the surface; makes them seem very human. Same here; Alistair and Helen are very appealing and their interactions are funny and prickly and full of chemistry, as in all of Hoyt's books. There's always a subplot or two running through the stories, in this case Helen's attempt to escape with her two children from the possessive, cold Duke who has "kept" her since he seduced her as a very young woman, and Alistair's attempts to resolve the ongoing mystery about the traitor behind the massacre at Spinner's Falls, where Alistair was captured, tortured and horribly disfigured. So far, I've read all of Hoyt's books (except "Serpent Prince"), and I think she manages these subplots without allowing them to take over the plot. I appreciate this as I don't read a lot of romances, but when I do, I want romance, not a half-baked mystery. I hope Hoyt continues to manage this well, as I really enjoy her well-developed characters, funny dialogue, and the way her characters grow to love each other through passionate yet loving romantic scenes. ...more info
- Well crafted historical romance
I never seem to tire of the old Beauty and the Beast plot lines. I'm not sure why, but I find it--and the Ugly Duckling stories-- to be redeeming in some way. Perhaps it is my innate distaste for the way modern society focuses on appearance, but I really enjoy it when one--or both--characters don't follow the 'they're so beautiful' mold.
This is the first book by Elizabeth Hoyt that I have read, and I must say I wasn't disappointed. She has a fresh approach to historical romance and her characters are well developed--from the servants to the heroes. Every single one of them is memorable.
I particularly enjoyed the fact that the heroine was a 'fallen' woman who didn't fit the 'perfect' heroine mold either.
To Beguile a Beast was a very satisfying book with an even more satisfying theme. ...more info
- loved it
I did not think this was prodding and boring - I actually thought it was the best of the 3 yet and give it a high score - enjoyed it from 1st page to the last....more info
- Beautiful, flawless, perfect...
I loved this book and for so many reasons. The romance (angst but not too much),resistance from both h/h but not too much and the children, which normally I don't mind or pay too much attention to in a romance, were such a big part of the character development of the h/h. The scenes with Alastair and the kids had me laughing and tearing up, which I rarely do. The realistic frustrations of a loving parent at the end of her rope. EH makes you believe and even feel what the characters are feeling, including the kids. The beautiful heart that's inside of Alastair, wow, what a guy, is all I can say. The loves scenes are, as usual for EH, steamy and part of the story, not just tossed in periodically. This book was worth the wait and I eagerly await the next and the next......more info
I was worried that having a hero as scarred as Sir Munroe would take away from the romantic effects of the novel--such as if Hoyt had kept describing the wounds over and over--but she allowed us to know they were there without becoming focused on them. I thought it was a great love story--I especially adore stories in which the heroine is really saving the hero!--although I didn't like the fairy tale as much as the one in To Seduce a Sinner. I can't wait for the next in the series, pirates and all :)...more info
- Loved it!!
This is the 3rd book in The Legend of the Four Soldiers stories. I liked this one the best because I was drawn to Sir Alistar's character in the previous book. I felt that the characters this time around were most realistic. Although this one did not focus on the Spinner's Falls mystery as much as the previous ones, I was captivated by the love story. Great weekend read....more info
- Very Worthy Hero
Elizabeth Hoyt's Soldier series just keeps getting better with each novel. Her latest To Beguile a Beast is heartwarming and sensuous with incredibly moving scenes a reader will not forget.
Sir Alistair is a scarred man living a lonely existence in his family castle in Scotland. Ever since he returned from the American colonies he has locked himself away in his dirty unkempt manor. He prefers his solitary life but that all changes when a beautiful woman arrives on his doorstep with her two children claiming she is his new housekeeper.
Helen Carter, Halifax (she uses many aliases) is desperate to escape her life as the Mistress of the powerful Duke of Lister, so she embarks on a last minute plan. Her friend Lady Vale has sent her to Scotland to work as a housekeeper to escape the clutches of the Duke. Helen is absolutely startled when she first sees Sir Alistair. His facial scars are frightening but she is determined to make a place for herself and her children in his castle and Sir Alistair finds himself talked into a housekeeper.
Not only does Helen breathe new life into the castle, she also is instrumental in dispelling the darkness in Alastair's life. She is a bit bossy but not unkind or condescending. Helen is a typical 18th century woman in that she knows her options are limited and makes the best of her situation.
Her children play a key role in this novel and they are as delightful as Helen. Too often children can either be too precocious or simply annoyances, but not here. Oldest sibling Abigail acts like a serious minded nine year old with all the feelings of insecurity and distrust any child would have when moving to a new place. Her younger brother Jamie is a typical five year old with a big heart and a boy's curious nature.
By far though, the most compelling character is terribly scarred Alistair. He is so very interesting. Alistair is a naturalist, not a soldier, so his time in the colonies was for an entirely different purpose than the other Englishmen who were maimed and murdered during the war. He is not embittered but he is cautious. He treads carefully with Helen. He is incredibly open with her children and his love for animals is touching and it displays his heart. His compassion, patience, love and kindness shown to his beloved pet is a harbinger of what he will be like with Helen's family. Quite simply the scenes with his aging faithful deerhound are beautifully written.
Helen and Alistair have an intensely passionate romance, neither are coy with their desires and this was refreshing. Of course, things do not always run smoothly in life and Helen's past is catching up to her. However, Alistair is more than willing to be a hero and he does so with all the valor of a knight in shining armor.
- Such a sweet story
To Belguile a Beast has many plot lines I don't care for, but it's such a lovely story that I was more than forgiving.
The heroine, Helen Fitzwilliam, is a Duke's mistress who has fled her protector with her two children because she's tired of his lack of attention and care for their children. She flees to the estate of Sir Alistair Munroe, a naturalist who turned recluse after being seriously wounded in the war on the continent. Helen becomes his housekeeper and the passion between them ignites at the same time as Helen's old protector, the Duke of Lister, is hot on her trail and determined to claim her and her son and daughter once again.
I don't care for mistress heroines. I don't care for children in romance novels. I don't care for moody, reclusive heroes. Despite the fact that all those things are here, I LOVED this book.
The characters are what made it for me. Most heroes who are wounded as Alistair was turn to drink and loose women. Not so here. Alistair may have hidden himself away in a dirty castle, but he continues to work on his observations of plants and animals. He really tried to continue with his life despite the many things in his way and I thought he was the most worthy of heroes for that. Helen may have made a youthful indiscretion that lead to a life as a mistress, but she was a kind, compassionate woman who managed to win me over.
The relationship development between Alistair and Helen was wonderful. Since they lived in the same household, there was no chasing or tricks for either of them. They simply spent time together, did things together and slowly grew to love and admire each other. As Alistair becomes closer and closer to Helen and her children, he gradually begins to awaken to a new life. Alistair steps up as their protector and savior when dark forces threaten them because of the growing depth of his feelings. It was an emotional and thrilling journey to take.
To Beguile a Beast may have started with a lot of things I don't care for in a romance, but it slowly became everything I was looking for in one. Great characters, great plot and great relationship development made this one a keeper. ...more info
- Readable, but...
This is my first Hoyt. There's been lots of hype about her, so when I needed a book for a car ride, I decided to try her out. I was only slightly impressed. The characters were good, but the plot was a bit weak. Maybe her others are better?
Most of the characters were well done. Helen was portrayed a little too `sweet' considering her age and background, but I liked that she was a `fallen' woman. I'm very tired of the innocent, perfect heroines in historical romance. Also, the children were portrayed realistically which many writers cannot do authentically. Alistair was interestingly different as a naturalist, but I didn't find him very magnetic.
A few spoilers may follow.
However, there were several plot/motivational holes for me. Why was Alistair's castle the only/best place to hide? Helen had money and there is an entire world out there. And if he just was knighted, why did his family own a castle? The duke chasing her down because she was his `possession' was rather weak, especially since he hadn't been with her in years. Why would Alistair who has money live in total filth? The reason given in the book was that he didn't care which seemed rather convenient for the storyline. Finally - not so sure this is Mrs. Hoyt's doing, it seems to be what publishers think readers want- I'm sick and disillusioned with people falling in love within a week or so. It is so unbelievable and takes away from the romance. Sure pace is important, but it's a book. Days, weeks, etc. can be written away in a paragraph.
It was a nice, sweet romance and I would recommend it to readers who read for character, yet, if plot is important too, this may fall a little short.
- Beauty and the Beast
To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
Helen Halifax is astonished at the black looking castle looming before her. She has no choice but to go on with her plans, to turn back and go home to London is not an option for her or her two children. Hiding out in Scotland could be just what she needs; posing as a housekeeper sent by Lady Vale, Helen has no idea what lies in wait inside the dark castle. The man that answered the door is enough to send her running, scarred from being tortured in Spinners Falls, Sir Alistair Munroe, is to be her new master.
Alistair has no idea what to do with this woman, he tries to send her away, only to find she had been shopping in the town for supplies as well as hired servants. Being reclusive is what Sir Alistair is used to, but he soon finds himself attracted to the beauty posing as a housekeeper. His scars are not only on his face and hand, but he has built up a wall around his heart, a wall that is slowly crumbling. Even the children begin to make him feel as though all of this is right... but his stubbornness sets in and he believes he is not destined for a happy future with such a beauty for he only sees the scarred beast.
Helen must confess to Alistair her past, and Alistair must learn that he is more than what he believes himself to be.
To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt is a beautifully written Romantic Historical that will keep you turning the pages well into the night. I love her descriptions of the characters, the scenery, and the story of the Truth Teller. Also, I loved the fact that her male character, Alistair, wasn't perfect... he was scarred and missing some fingers, but had a heart and persona that any woman would fall in love with. Ms. Hoyt is a very talented lady, that is for sure. 5 Hearts
- Enjoyable escapism
I always enjoy Elizabeth Hoyt - her characters are interesting and very human as someone else pointed out - they have flaws and personalities. No one is perfect in her books. I also enjoy the intertwined 'fairy tales' as a second thread through the novel and a second story all its own. I tore through this book avidly - and think that most Elizabeth Hoyt fans should enjoy this book as well....more info
- a fairy tale of the best kind.
This book had me laughing, crying, flying through the pages, and left me with that warm and fuzzy feeling only a truly great romance story can.
Our heroine is fleeing London (an escaping mistress) with her 2 children and goes to a filthy castle in Scotland where she meets the tall, well built, but scarred (inside and out) 1 eyed hero.
The bits of fairy tale that start each chapter, the tension of the children's father hunting them down because they are his (as is she, his former mistress he won't let go), the 'beast' coming back to life after so many years shut away in solitude...
just holy wow and fantastic reading all around. The romance has time to build into lust and then love, the children and supporting characters are charming, and the pace is great. Elizabeth Hoyt has a way with story telling and words that had me flying through each page. I'm not a big historical fan, but I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!
re-read potential for sure....more info
- romance with a not so beastly beast
I hate to say it, but I wasn't that impressed with To Beguile a Beast. Granted I had high expectations and was really looking forward to this book. Plainly put, I found it too sedate, with its quiet, plodding pace. The heroine, Helen Fitzwilliam, is the mistress to a powerful duke. Deciding she's sick of living without love, she runs away from him with her two children. Thanks to the meddling matchmaking machinations of the heroine from the previous book in the series, Helen seeks refuge under an assumed name at the castle of our hero, Sir Alistair Munroe - a scientist and recluse who was terribly scarred during his time spent in the Americas. She wants to be his housekeeper. He doesn't want a housekeeper. She cleans his house anyway, and he falls in love with her. He gives her some flowers, and she falls in love with him. From point A to point B that's pretty much the simple, not so speedy progression of things here. I generally hate scenarios in which the heroine comes upon a hero who, horror of horrors, doesn't care or know how to clean up after himself - this means he has no one to love him or doesn't know how to love. Yet. And then, in a portentous, metaphoric act of beneficence, she takes care of the house as she will soon take care of and set to right the hero's life. It bugs me so much, for it has the finesse of a falling anvil. In this case I could see the cleaning house = true love crutch coming from a mile away, at the first mention of Alistair's dirty, dirty castle.
There just wasn't any fun to this book. If it's supposed to be a poignant, tear jerker type of romance, though, I didn't find any of that in To Beguile a Beast either. Everything was simply very staid and safe. The heroine, because she's a former mistress, has to be particularly sweet, virtuous, and nice so that we don't condemn her for her past indiscretions. It seems her character is handled with kid gloves throughout the book. She's got a sad history of seduction and neglect to make us feel sorry for her and excuse her relations with the evil duke. She's maternal and kindly, but utterly lacking in personality. I had to slog though pages of her working her fairy cleaning magic around the house, (though, granted it doesn't come easy to her, having never cleaned house before,) and doing all the domestic wifely things that Alistair is just begging for, even if he doesn't know it yet himself. And don't get me started on the puppy that has to enter the picture, to forge the bond of fatherly love between Alistair and the kids. Maybe this book was doomed from the start for me, because romances featuring children are my least favorite kind (with some notable and rare exceptions.) And even though there's an effort to get into the psyche of the older daughter at least, to give her some depth and personality, things nevertheless got a little too saccharine for me.
Alistair is less horrible than Helen, in that he's got a bit more depth to him. There are many books out there with badly scarred or disfigured heroes, but Alistair is set apart from them in that he doesn't rage and moan about his lost beauty and lock himself away out of lofty self-aggrandizement. Actually he's content with his life. He has his scientific pursuits. He isn't happy, (how could he be in such a dirty castle?) but he isn't stalking the ramparts of his castle whenever a storm brews, pounding his head against the wall and bellowing over his tragic fate. He's a quiet guy who's just very nice. Scholarly, outdoorsy, and actually kind of sensitive. His feelings for his old deerhound (not the annoying puppy that comes later) did bring a tear to my eye. I like Alistair (though I didn't find him very beast-like.) He doesn't make a big deal about his scars. It's other people who do - screaming at the sight of him and all that.
But even though I like Alistair, there's still not much to the story or his romance with Helen. It was hard to believe in their love for each other. Hot sex aside, there was no chemistry between them. The book is more about his relationship with her children, becoming a father type, taking them fishing, etc. Which is all very well and good, I guess. In this respect, the book has some nice moments, for, like Helen's cleaning efforts, interacting and loving the kids doesn't come easy to Alistair. But the warm family romance is rarely to my taste, and here nice gets translated into bland and predictable for me. Things don't even pick up once the evil duke shows up for some abducting (a development you can also see coming from a mile away.) The other plot development, the search for the traitor from Spinner's Falls, the mystery that is supposed to hold together the Legend of the Four Soldiers series, is only incidentally mentioned, and it's like this book isn't even a part of that overall story arc - though I actually appreciated this shift in focus. This does mean, as well, that whenever Spinner's Falls is mentioned, it seems like a distraction, and a random one at that. Even though there were some high points to the story, I kept waiting and waiting for the book to get better, to gain momentum, to really grab me. Maybe it was just my own preferences getting in the way of my enjoyment. To Beguile a Beast might not have done it for me, but I still like how Elizabeth Hoyt writes and tells a story, so I'll be holding out hope for the next in the series. Such a long wait. *sigh*...more info
- 4 1/2 stars -A wonderful, glorious, book to read and re-read!
To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
Regency Romance - April 28th, 2009
4 ? stars
Elizabeth Hoyt's novels are something I always look forward to and To Beguile a Beast was no exception. The author has the remarkable ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. I believe this is because she really takes the time to build her characters throughout the book so readers can't help but grow to love them. Readers who have read Elizabeth's Hoyt's books know her penchant for intertwining fairy tales in her novels. In this Regency she has written a superb romance based loosely on the Beauty and Beast theme.
Helen is a beautiful woman who was seduced by a Duke when she was very young and naive. When she tried to leave him he took her child hostage until she returned. Now a notorious mistress shunned by polite society, Helen exists in a lonely life devoid of any company except for her children. Her actions controlled by the Duke. But Helen is desperate, she see no future with the aloof and distant Duke. She knows she must escape and start a new life for herself and her children. Helen realizes she cannot live in fear. When the unexpected opportunity for a different life appears she grabs it and runs. Traveling in disguise with her 2 children, she see seeks employment as a housekeeper to the reclusive Sir Alistair. However, Sir Alistair is not what she expects. Helen is disturbed by the bitter yet gentle owner and the despairs over the filthy and long neglected castle. But soon Helen realizes that this challenge is just what she and her children need.
Sir Alistair is outraged by his scheming friend's wife. He doesn't need a housekeeper especially one who is so desirable. He can't help his reaction to Helen but vows to push her and her children away at any cost. He doesn't want anyone, even her charming children. Besides, a woman that beautiful would never want a scared, wreck of a man like him. Alistair knows from experience that woman find him terrifying, if only he could stop himself from thinking of her...
At first I didn't see how the `Beast' Sir Alistair and the `Beauty' Helen would find love. Their first encounters were fiery and decidedly unfriendly. But the magic of Elizabeth Hoyt's books are how she develops the 2 characters relationship. She guides the reader from their fist signs of growing admiration to their eventual love. By the end of the book I realized how much they needed each other and how deeply they complemented each other! This book was inspiring, especially as each character realizes the depth of their courage. Helen finds her inner fortitude when she manages the castle and stand up for herself and her children. Sir Alistair stop hiding and braves society to save Helen. A wonderful, glorious, book to read and re-read!
Reviewed by Steph from the Bookaholics Romance Book Club
- Very Readable and Hard to Put Down...Loved It
This was not a suspense murder romance mystery and if that's what you like in your HRs, maybe you should pass on this one. However, if you love a true love story, this is a must read. I could not put this down and I loved all of the characters, including the children. Other reviews have criticized the characters as one-dimensional, but I couldn't disagree more. I felt deeply for both the hero and the heroine and the children as well.
I have read other books by this author and judged them as just fair so I went into this one not knowing what to expect, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and definitely recommend it as a must read, especially if you're reading the series. This is by far my favorite book by Hoyt and I'm so glad I decided to read it. I did like having known the background of the characters from the previous story. 4.5...more info
- Weak effort
I was so looking forward to this book. What a shame that it didn't live up to my expectations. I always enjoy a beauty and beast storyline, but Hoyt made some fatal errors in her writing. I was thoroughly surprised and disappointed in her colloquial language and in the very basic mistakes she made in historical detail. Hoyt (or her editors) should know better. Early on in 'To Beguile a Beast', she has various characters using notepads. Huh? In 1765? Helen decides to buy "groceries" in the village. Again I say...huh? Where did she buy them - at the local grocery store? Those mistakes are so jarring for someone who reads a lot of historical fiction that they immediately threw me out of the storyline. The mistakes and modern language continue from there on until the end - to my great frustration. Alistair and Helen are pretty average characters as well. Other than the scars on Alistair's face and Helen's former line of work, there is not much to set them apart from every other hero and heroine in Romance. Like another reviewer stated, the only interesting relationship in the story is between Alistair and the children - and that's certainly not enough of a reason to buy 'To Beguile a Beast.' It's becoming increasingly rare to find well-written historicals these days. Sadly, this isn't one of them. ...more info
- Really a 3 1/2; good points and bad --
I love "Beauty and the Beast" type stories. I have not read the others in this series so I will say this story does stand alone.
The good first: Very unusual characters - the brooding, scarred hero -- the beautiful fleeing mistress and her two children. All delightful! Throw in a misbehaving pup (Puddles!) and a manipulating (but loving) sister and her companion and you have some fun aspects to this tale. One quote from our hero's sister that I loved "He was a good man when he went away to the Colonies. He came back an extraordinary man." What does that tell you! I found Sir Alistair the better drawn character in this book.
The not as good: Helen's character was not expanded -- there was too much concentration on her physical attributes! As another reviewer mentioned, the connection to Alistair (and to me her children) was not really shown. They fell into a relationship a little quickly (but it is a romance). I felt Helen was shown as so pushy and able to wedge herself into his life, but I think the way it occurred seemed inprobable. Sometimes the tediousness of the story left me just wanting to skip ahead. The scenes about fishing took too long; the weirdness of Alistair's valet was frightening, far too much about the old dog and then it's dying. Those left me cold.
I did like the ending when Alistair retrieved Helen's children from their father. The book did have tender and wonderful moments. I recommend reading it - it just didn't touch my heart. Still, I will be reading the rest of the books (and yearning for the one that comes out later this year!). ...more info
- Loving this book
I am not going to go into details because I think previous reviewers have done that already. Suffice to say, I love this version of beauty and the beast - I felt it was the best of the the 'four soldiers' series. It may not have been an action-packed story but I loved the unfolding of the relationship and the final 'happy ever after' ending. Goes on my keepers shelf. ...more info
- No, thank you. Now, how many not helpfuls will I get?
To Kathy Kaiser - you are spot on. I am about to commit a DNF 2/3 the way through this mess. The author mentions in her prefacing note that she needed help with her grammar. How very true! I can stomach contractions in dialogue but in an historical novel, to use them in narrative description in short, choppy, ill-written sentences is unforgiveable. There is absolutely NO feel for the period in which this story is set; it is riven with historical errors and there is no sense of mood or evocation of accurately described meals, surroundings, clothing, etc.
For some reason, the author persists in her line about looking for badgers in daylight. Sorry, Ms Hoyt, badgers are nocturnal animals and the ONLY one you will see in daylight is road-kill. I live in the countryside where we have many badger setts nearby; the creatures are a protected species in the UK but you won't see one in the daylight and their setts are dangerous to approach - no one with any countryside sense would do so.
I agree with Kathy that the characters are one dimensional and the author has not established what period she sets them except for a mention of the heroine's dress not having panniers and the hero clubbing his hair. The mention of a half of a lemon being shoved up the heroine's nether-regions as a contraceptive made me laugh and then shudder when I thought about it in detail. I suppose the author feels she was daring to describe this but was this necessary? The juice - perhaps, but, girls, think about it!!! Further, I suppose describing some auto-eroticism gave the author the idea she was a bit daring but it was not particularly well done and did not add to the plot.
The characters of Sophia and her "friend" should have been portrayed a little more honestly as I suppose the author was making them one of those 18th c intellectual proto-lesbian relationships although she is never brave enough to come right out and say so.
This whole book was dire, drear and dumbed down. I read Hoyt's first book, The Raven Prince, amidst the hype that surrounded it but was deeply disappointed and have avoided her until now when I thought it was fair to give her a second chance. However, I have now learnt my lesson and won't be back. I like a wounded hero but Sir Alistair was so boring that I really did not care about him and as for Helen, I can't think of anything useful to say about her or her two children.
Not recommended; lack of flow, choppy, unpolished writing and only mildly sympathetic characters. What is the attraction?...more info