Beauty Tempts the Beast
And so ends the Sins for all Seasons series by Lorraine Heath – a much enjoyed series featuring the Trewlove siblings. The final book, Beauty Tempts the Beast, features Benedict (aka Beast) Trewlove following in his siblings’ footsteps and stumbling into marital bliss.
Beast has spent most of his life in Whitechapel protecting women. A series of events in his youth has seen him end up as a reluctant brothel owner – not your usual hero material. But Benedict’s true aim (after protecting these women) is to give them a second chance, to educate them in another skill and get them settled in a new profession. What he needs to help him succeed is a tutor for the women – someone to teach them how to more ladylike in their behaviour. Enter Althea Stanwick, the new barmaid at Beast’s sister’s tavern. It is obvious to Beast that Althea is quality and doesn’t belong here. Beast aims to get to know Althea and see if she is the solution to his problem.
Althea Stanwick is the daughter of the Duke of Thornley, recently convicted of treason. Her parents are dead, her home and possessions gone, and her title no more. Her two older brothers (Marcus and Griffith) are doing their best to provide for her but they are also trying to clear their family name. They know Althea will never marry well with the taint of treason hanging over them:
“I just want to regain our respectability, if not for us, then for Althea,” Marcus said. “Who would marry her as long as this pall of doubt and suspicion hangs over us? She’s the daughter of a duke. She should have her pick of suitors.”
Althea doesn’t care about marrying well – she just doesn’t want to be a burden to her brothers. So she concocts a scheme – she’ll learn the art of seduction and become a high-class courtesan and earn her own living, thus relieving her brothers of her welfare (and maybe sticking it to the aristocracy.) And when Beast comes around offering her a job as tutor to the ladies in his brothel, she strikes a deal – she’ll tutor the ladies in the womanly arts and Beast will tutor her in the bedroom arts. Beast agrees while never having any intention of teaching her; instead he plans to pay her an exorbitant amount as a tutor while hoping to convince her to change her mind about becoming a courtesan.
The first part of the story continues with this premise and, fellow readers, I just couldn’t buy it! Why in the world did Althea think this was a good plan, perhaps her only option? Her brothers are out who-knows-where trying to prove that the treason conviction was false so she and they can regain their respectability and she thinks to relieve them of their worry about her by becoming a courtesan? Just how respectable will they be with a sister who is a courtesan? Beast is paying her loads of money to tutor so she is not without other options. I was confused!
As you can surmise, Beast and Althea are attracted to each other and keep coming closer and closer to those lessons Althea is hoping for until finally, they can resist no longer. Luckily the book takes a turn for the better here, with Althea realizing she was mistaken in her ideas, and Beast and Althea looking to a possible future together. Until the real impediment to their happiness enters…
From this point forward, I was totally invested in the book. Beast is a sweetheart, truly caring for those he watches over, and offering new opportunities to the downtrodden. Like all the Trewloves, he struggles with the mystery of his origins and it was delightful to see his past revealed – he deserves a happy ending. Althea was harder to warm to because of her ridiculous plan, but as soon as she admits it isn’t a good idea, her likability increased and I started to believe she would be a good match for Beast – turns out she is pretty selfless too.
Being the final installment in the series, we had lots of time with the other Trewloves and an epilogue with happy endings for all, including Ettie. I’ve enjoyed most of the books in the series so I smiled my way through the Trewlove scenes. The end of Beauty Tempts the Beast also gives us the setup for the next Lorraine Heath series – it will be about Marcus and Griffith and their quest to clear their family name. From what we are shown, it looks promising!
So, in a perfect book world, Althea would have never concocted her courtesan plan and the story would have just been about overcoming the real impediment to her and Beast’s happiness. However, I am glad to have seen Beast get a happy ending and to have spent time with the Trewlove clan. Even with the wobbliness of the beginning of this story, fans of the series will not want to miss this final chapter with the Trewloves.