Sunday, June 15, 2014
Updating Beauty and the Beast
Reading Challenge: June 18 - Romance Classics (classic book, classic author, classic trope/theme etc.)
Running Scarredby Jackie Williams
I love variations on the Beauty and the Beast theme. For that reason, I thought Jackie Williams' Running Scarred sounded like fun.
First of all, she's British, and I thought a British take on the universal fairytale would be interesting. Secondly, her hero, Patrick Reeves--nicknamed Superman because of the film actor's last name--is an British soldier who was disfigured when a bomb blew up unexpectedly, which is a modern twist on the Beast idea.
As can be imagined, Patrick is bitter, not just about the fact that his comrades died and that he lost a leg and has burn scars on his face and body, but also because his wife of ten years left him when she saw him in the hospital.
Patrick now lives in the gardener's cottage on the grounds of a decayed French chateau away from everyone but the nearby villagers. His peace is disturbed one night when beautiful British Ellen tromps through the woods near his cottage as she stomps away from her fiancé.
Multi-millionaire Ellen has recently discovered that her fiancé doesn't love her and has been using her to get control of her fortune. While this is disturbing, Ellen has more important things on her mind.
She's searching for a building to buy in order to turn it into a luxury resort hotel where wounded British veterans, their families, and friends can come for vacation without outsiders staring at them. She plans for her brother and his friends, all wounded veterans, to help her vet the place once she's made repairs and added upgrades.
It's a wonderful premise. Unfortunately, questions abound. These are just a very few I had while reading the book:
* Why does Ellen decide to buy this chateau which has almost no usable rooms in it and which is a crumbling shell? Surely, there are secluded houses that are in better repair in both England and France. Her attraction to Patrick can't be that strong after a few hours seeing him one night.
* After Patrick finds out that Ellen's brother is a double amputee and the brother's friends are also wounded veterans, why does Patrick still battle Ellen and her attraction to him? At times he comes off as churlish rather than charming. And the smell of a real man and the sight of Patrick's broad shoulders, reasons why Ellen begins to love him, don't seem enough to attract anyone.
* Why does it take Ellen so long to figure out her fiancé just wants her money? She's already bought a Spanish resort that he talked her into and, against her wishes, let him put his name on the deeds. She also bought her own engagement ring and just about everything else in their relationship. How dense can one woman be?
Those are only three of the many questions running around in my head as I read the book. I wanted so much to like it since I love the Beauty and the Beast premise, but this book didn't do it for me at all, despite having such a promising contemporary Beast.
Hopefully I'll find a more compelling and less troubling use of the old fairytale in the future.