I've always thought Judith Ivory is the missing link between literary fiction and romance novels. I like lending her books to highly literate, otherwise intelligent people who tell me they hate "bodice rippers" and "tacky romance novels" (without ever having read any of them, of course). This one plays with the old tale of "Beauty and the Beast." The first half takes place on an enormous, luxurious turn of the century ocean liner. The other half takes place in a mansion in the South of France. The heroine's so beautiful, a little boy on the cruise ship asks her if she's a goddess. The hero's a French prince, who limps and got a forceps in the eye when he was delivered. He's a perfume maker and a dandy who's fond of good clothing and fine walking sticks. They are a fascinating couple, but you will enjoy them better if you like complex, slightly flawed characters. Not your stereotypical perfect couple.
I couldn't get into the story plot on this one. She seemed like a long winded or wordy author with more babble than I need to read. The idea of the story was good, I just couldn't read her writing style.
This book remeinds me of an old fashion romance in the sense that the hero is easily aroused, or there is no real challenge. The boat ride is mostly sex scenes with no real substance, and even though the heroine is written to be intelligent, she doesn't really have much proof.
Honestly, I have been reading romances for about ten years, and some are memorable. I will probably forget this story within a week.
This was my first Judith Ivory book, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. Ivory has a unique writing style that is easy to read and also very intelligent. I enjoyed this book very much -- I am a sucker for anything resembling a fairytale, and this book delivered. I found Charles quite charming and wicked -- my absolute favorite kind of hero. While I did like Louise, I didn't like that she was 18 and it showed. Good lord, that girl was immature. I appreciated her adventurous spirit, but towards the end of the book she was really setting my teeth on edge and I wanted to thump her on the head and tell her to grow up. I gave this book 4 stars -- if the heroine had been even a bit more mature it would have been an easy 5, but still so worth the read. I will definitely be reading more of her books.
Wonderful beautifully written well paced romance. Set in 1902, the premise is obvious, the Beast is beastly not only in his imperfect (scarred) appearance but in some of his behavior early on. Yet he is so true to the Beauty & the Beast story, that below his terrible behavior is actually a knight gallant and a man of uncommon beauty and attraction. The Beauty is a girl-woman of 18 who is so beautiful she worries that her face is all there is to her. She wants to be loved for more than her appearance, he wants to be loved in spite of it.
The romance was built like those books where the development of the relationship and characters is so intense you hardly notice the lack of actual love scenes. But you get the best of both worlds in this book because Judith Ivory delivers plenty of steam.
While the notion of the 18 year old bride is a bit creepy, I liked that in this book it was at least acknowledged. Eighteen is barely out of childhood and our heroine acts it, the hero notices it. Of course by the end that no longer matters but I appreciate that the age disparity, and particularly her youth, is not just glossed over.