I’m reading Eloisa James‘s latest at the mo – the second in a series of fairytale-inspired romances.
The first of these, the Cinderella-esque A Kiss at Midnight, I didn’t really enjoy. With the fairytale departure from strict historical romance she seemed to lose some of her intelligent edge.
The hero of When Beauty Tamed the Beast is an absolute joy – and a hugely courageous move on her part.
He’s a crippled physician who’s hidden himself away in a Welsh castle, where half the country have found him and come to be treated. Because he’s lived most of his life dealing with debilitating pain, he’s rude and direct. Because he’s highly intelligent and inquisitive he runs linguistic circles around most people.
And he speaks the truth.
So very refreshing. For one thing, he comes right out and admits that he’s fallen in love. For another, when the fact that he’s falling in love makes him mean, and his heroine asks him what’s wrong, he comes straight out and tells her.
Two characters who are being so forthright with each other is downright charming to read.
I think it must also be hard to write, because it means that all the reasons the two can’t just be together, given their immediate attraction, have to be watertight. They have to be convincing, compelling and most likely spring from external circumstance.
Whatever keeps a hero and heroine apart should always be these things, of course, but having a character misunderstand themselves – whether wilfully or no – is a huge help.
I haven’t quite reached the happy conclusion yet – in fact, the two have just parted – but I’m impressed. Eloisa James has built their relationship from nothing more than two flawed people meeting and finding a space to be exactly what they are and being loved for it, beyond all expectation.