When I heard that there was going to be a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson I was incredibly excited. Disney’s cartoon version was a childhood favorite of mine and, even though I was disappointed with the live-action take on Cinderella, I hoped that the the choice to keep the film a musical would help retain some of the original magic.
I saw Beauty and the Beast on opening weekend and I have to say, I loved it. Watson was perfectly cast as the modern Belle, who is just a beautiful as the original, but more strong-willed and inventive. Hearing new takes on the familiar songs brought out the child in me, but I also enjoyed some of the new numbers, particularly the Beast’s heart wrenching song “Evermore”.
Leaving the theater, my first thought (after wanting to download “Evermore” to listen to again) was that I wanted to read something Beauty and the Beast! There are so many fantastic adaptations out there that I knew I could either go back to an old favorite or try something new. As always when I need suggestions for a great read, I turned to my fellow reviewers so I thought I would share their contributions with you, in case you’re also needing a fairy tale fix.
Besides these recommendations, don’t forget to check out our Special Titles Listing for Beauty and the Beast.
~ Haley Kral
The reason I love both these novels is that they give depth to the iconic characters, the author is well known for her excellent writing and it shines through in both these novels and the stories adhere to the original text while simultaneously breathing new life into it. Chalice especially does an excellent job of giving us a strong, admirable beauty character in heroine Mirasol. – Maggie
Beauty was my first thought for an adaptation of this fairy tale. I read it in high school and loved it. I’m currently reading Rose Daughter, which is the author’s revised version of the story from many years later. – Haley
I agree with the choice of Chalice – a spectacularly original one-off fantasy. I loved Mirasol too. The prose is just lovely. – Caroline
Firelight by Kristen Callihan.
My absolute favorite adaptation is Firelight by Kristen Callihan. It’s a paranormal romance that takes the tale and spins it with a unique take on what makes something beautiful and who is a beast. Miranda Ellis is a beautiful woman with an ability that caused the destruction of her father’s business and many could call it a curse. Her hero Lord Archer hides his appearance with a mask because of a disfigurement that is frightening to normal people and to Archer himself. Underneath his disguise he’s actually a fair and gentle man who has been isolated as a way of protecting himself from those who don’t understand what he is. As truths are revealed about the nature of Miranda’s ability and Archer’s appearance they learn to love and trust each other against the beastly people who would hurt or destroy them. – Sara A/BN/iB/K
Seconded by Caz and Em
This book is an amalgam of a few fairy tales, but I think Beauty and the Beast comes through the strongest. Feyre kills a wolf that turns out to be a fae in disguise, and so her punishment is to go and live with a fae high lord across the border in the fae’s country. The fae lord, Tamlin, can transform into a beast at will. I like the romance between them so much, as well as the lore that Maas builds by combining mythologies. However, I’m in the minority of people who hated the sequel A Court of Mist and Fury. – Haley A/BN/iB/K
Seconded by Shannon and Dabney
This is an excellent (and very long!) read. Human Amber Bierce finds herself stranded on a distant planet when her spaceship crashes. She finds love with Uyane Meoraq, an alien religious warrior when the two go on an epic journey. Both characters find the other species to be hideously ugly, yet their inner strengths pull them to each other and their love story is truly epic. The book is very long and very graphic (multiple rapes depicted), but well worth the time invested. Not a traditional Beauty and the Beast retelling but a tale of people overcoming exterior appearances to find true love of the mind and spirit. – Jenna
Anne Jewel, a teacher at a girl’s school, is enjoying a holiday with wealthy friends and family when she meets a man on a seaside cliff during the deepening dusk of a balmy summer night. One side of his face is breathtaking, the other scarred beyond imagining. Anne runs in terror when she sees it. Then she (rightly) feels awful and makes amends. Sydnam Butler gave his all for England but he doesn’t feel heroic, just battered and stoic. Then Anne comes into his life and he realizes how the world is full of love.Two wounded souls find companionship and more in each other’s arms. This is just beautifully written, with wonderful characters and a terrific love story at the core. – Maggie A/BN/iB/K
Seconded by Caz, Keira and Lee
Seconded by Caz and Keira
Beast is a romantic and unique reimagining of the traditional Beauty and the Beast fairytale. Our ‘Beauty,’ Louise Vandermeer, is a smart and beautiful American heiress bored with her life. She’s agreed to marry a wealthy french aristocrat and when the story opens, she’s traveling across the ocean to meet her betrothed. Louise has heard that though he’s rumored to be a bit of a rake, he’s also horribly disfigured and scarred. Scared of what awaits her, she allows herself to be charmed by a man who stays in the shadows, and embarks on a passionate shipboard affair.
Unbeknownst to Louise, she’s actually having an affair with her betrothed, Charles d’Harcourt, our ‘Beast.’ Curious about his fiancee, he arranged to travel incognito on the same ship. Though scarred from a childhood illness, Charles has never had trouble attracting beautiful females, and Louise falls hard for her handsome stranger. Unfortunately for him, he falls just as hard for her but can’t admit who he is.
Once Louise arrives and weds Charles, he does all he can to charm his beautiful wife, but Louise can’t forget her handsome shipboard lover. Frustrated and unable to confess what he’s done, or admit he knows she pines for another man, Charles spends much of the novel falling deeper in love with his wife and chastising himself for tricking her. Charles is a prince but it takes a long time for Louise to realize it, and the revelation of his subterfuge on board nearly derails their love affair.
Miss Harriet Pomeroy is a headstrong young miss who needs help keeping some thieves away from her beloved caves. She turns to Gideon Westbrook, Viscount St. Justin, aka the the Beast of Blackthorne Hall for help. His scars and unsavory past have kept all but the most desperate fortune hunters away but Harriet’s kind heart and warm manner soon have Gideon believing in love again. This is one of Quick’s best works: it’s a super sweet love story. – Maggie A/BN/iB/K
This one combines lots of elements – a scarred hero married to a woman who won’t let him into her bed, a heroine forced to become a prostitute, a governess plot, and tons of angst. Dang, now I want to read it again… – Anne A/BN/iB/K
This is one of my favorite Beauty and the Beast retellings. It’s the story of a beautiful woman betrothed to a disfigured man who lives in a castle (of course!). Their banter is delightful and their sexual encounters sizzle too! I listened to this as an audiobook and the narration by Susan Duerden is very well done. – Maria Rose A/BN/iB/K
This novel is both chilling and enchanting. I loved it because no other book has quite captured what it would feel like to be in a castle where a curse has been laid. It really nailed the sort of Gothic creepiness of the backstory while still providing an excellent love story. Caitrin especially makes an outstanding, brave and clever beauty. – Maggie A/BN/iB/K
Simply one of the best fantasy romances I’ve ever read. Idilko is a human princess, Brishen a Kai prince. To each other, the two races look hideous but Brishen and Idilko have to marry to symbolize the peace between their people.Once wed, they look beneath the surface appearance of their partner and each discovers someone with inner beauty beyond measure. I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s stunning. – Maggie A/BN/iB/K
Withering Rose by Kaitlin Davis.
Omorose is yanked from her world of magic and thrown into a world of technology. When her “talent” is discovered she must run to a place ruled by a dangerous beast, the last safe spot for magic wielders. But Cole is not the monster Omorose thought he would be. A thoroughly enjoyable tale of magic and mayhem in a freshly imagined dystopian future. – Maggie A/BN/iB/K
Whe the movie version of this is horrible, the book is excellent. It is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast where the hero was once a really hot, rich high school athlete who at a school dance pulls a major, nasty prank on a witch and earns the curse of being ugly. Lindy is the daughter of a complete dead beat; She winds up becoming Kyle’s (the beast) companion. The two fall in love and the story is sweet, sexy and a perfect modern day fairy tale. – Maggie A/BN/iB/K
Beau and the Beast by Kay Simone.
I’m currently reading this 600 pager, a Contemporary, M/M, and it’s really good. I feared it might be cheesy and just swap the gender roles, but it isn’t and it doen’t. Wolfram (the Beast, complete with fur, horns and claws) and his staff has been cursed by a ‘witch’ to remain in his penthouse after some Wall Street banking shenanigans caused the death of the ‘witch’s’ sister. Great characterisations and very sensual. I’m only halfway through but there are so many questions to be resolved – I am loving it. – BJ A/BN/iB/K
Petals and Thorns by Jeffe Kennedy.
Phantom by Susan Kay.
Although not a romance, I can definitely recommend Phantom. It’s a prequel to The Phantom of the Opera told from the PoV of the Phantom. The book also addresses the original story and what “really” happened, and those are the parts that have provoked the most controversy among fans. – Anne A/BN/iB/K
I never really think of this one as a Beauty and the Beast story, since it doesn’t fit the fairy tale version, but we do include it in our Special Title Listing. The hero was a Civil War vet who was disfigured in the war and falls in love with the mail order bride he is transporting for his brother. I read it as a child and have read it many times since then. It makes me cry every single time and is far and above my favorite Western romance novel. – Haley. A/BN/iB/K
What do you think of our selection? Tell us your favourite Beauty and the Beast style stories in the comments.
Please note: Links are to ebook editions; where there is no link, there is no digital version of the book available from that retailer.