by Hannah Howell

April 2007 Reissue
ISBN: 978-0-8217-8004-6
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

England, 1365

Lady Gytha Raouille was betrothed to the heir of Saitun Manor at a very young age. While preparing for the wedding, word arrives that the groom, William, has been killed and according to the marriage contract Gytha must now wed the next in line. That would have been William’s cousin Thayer; however he too is mysteriously assumed dead, leaving the youngest cousin, Robert. Dutifully Gytha will marry whom she must, though the handsome young Robert does nothing to rouse her. Then to everyone’s astonishment Thayer Saitun arrives!

A battle-hardened warrior, Thayer Saitun is fearsomely known throughout the kingdom as “the Red Devil.” His flame red hair, broken and scarred face and massive size are as much a deterrent as his powerful sword is in sending his enemies running. Upon arrival for his cousin’s wedding, Thayer learns that William is dead and that he is now the intended groom! Never thinking he would ever have to marry, especially a bride as lovely and innocent as Lady Gytha, Thayer must honor his family’s pact with the Raouilles and claim her. Confidant in fighting his foes, Thayer is equally insecure when it comes to matters of the heart. Burned badly by a so called high-born lady, Thayer has stayed away from such women seeking only those whose beds he can buy. Can Thayer put aside his doubts and learn to trust the exquisite Gytha now that she is his?

Beauty and the Beast is a re-issue of an early effort by New York Times bestselling author Hannah Howell. It shows signs of budding talent Hannah Howell will later display, but doesn’t quite match up in what she now achieves. The story is bland, with no punch or surprise to it. Thayer’s major inferiority complex gets tiresome especially when he can be so brutal in other matters. Then there is the usual skulking villain who is unbelievably dumb in his efforts to kidnap and secure the girl for his evil intentions. Gytha is also not the brightest tool in the shed. (Who goes off with just a female cousin in the woods to pick flowers when there are all kinds of dangers about?) I think it’s just better to spend the reading effort on this gifted author’s more recent material.

Reviewed in August 2007 by Bonnie.

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