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This is one of my all time favorites! I have read and reread this book at least one dozen times over the years. I absolutely loved that the hero and heroine were a bit older than the norm. I loved that the author wrote the heroine as a former mistress with two children. What a breath of fresh air from the usual 19 year old virgin debutants that we usually get. This is part of a series but can definitely be read as a stand-alone. I can not recommend this book highly enough!
4.0 out of 5 starsBeautiful Helen Comes to Visit Scarred, Reclusive Alistair and Changes His Life Forever
Reviewed in the United States on October 19, 2014
If you've read previous books in this series including
To Taste Temptation (The Legend of the Four Soldiers)
To Seduce A Sinner (The Legend of the Four Soldiers)
, you've been introduced to our scarred hero, Sir Alistair Munroe. He is a naturalist who has traveled extensively in order to study, catalogue and publish books about plants and animals. Once upon a time, Alistair made a trip to America where an untimely encounter now referred to as the "Spinner Falls" incident, changed his life forever, resulting in devastating scarring to his face, the loss of one eye and two fingers. Since returning to his home in Scotland, he has become a recluse and has given up on ever having an active social life - in fact he has no social life, period. He doesn't even have servants, except for one wily old man who is more trouble than he's worth. This wasn't his choice, but what would you do if your appearance had the effect of causing women to faint and children scream?
But, our sweet Melisande from
To Seduce A Sinner (The Legend of the Four Soldiers)
has decided that some meddling is in order. When her lovely acquaintance, Helen Fitzwilliam, shows up at Melisande's home with her two young children - on the run from her protector, the mean old Duke of Lister - Melisande packs Helen and the children off to Scotland to Sir Alistair's castle knowing he is in need of: 1) a housekeeper, 2) a ready made family, and 3) a beautiful woman. I must confess to having meddled a few times myself, so I understand what drove Melisande.
It's almost laughable when Helen arrives at Alistair's castle and realizes just how bad things are. Indeed, Helen doesn't know how to cook, but she does seem to be able to manage a broom, plus she's got some gumption. More than anything, however, having served and been under the control of the Duke of Lister since she was 17 years old, she's glad to have some freedom, even if it is in a dusty old castle with a man who has only one handsome side. In addition, the duke hasn't made use of her physical attributes for some years - she's been lonely and struggles with choices she made in her early life.
Helen's two young children - Jamie and Abigail, are adorable and add some zest to the story. Their father, the duke, never had any kind of relationship with them, their social life was basically non existent due to their mother's status and they hunger for affection and adventure. Once they arrive at the castle and meet Sir Alistair, their lives begin to change. There is one major problem centering around the sweet kiddos - their father, although an uncaring jerk, will chase them to hell and back in order to regain control of them and their mother.
Alistair is overwhelmed by Helen's beauty and very soon, he is making moves on her person, even though he's so accustomed to rejection, he hasn't had female company since he returned from America some years previously. Helen doesn't see his scars as much as she sees a lovely man who needs to get a life. Very shortly, Alistair has the children and Helen intertwined in his life and ultimately the relationship becomes more satisfying to both Alistair and Helen than either one imagined it could be. However, they have secrets between them. Alistair hasn't been willing to share how he became damaged and Helen isn't willing to let him know she's hiding out from a duke. Everything comes to a head as we all knew it would - people are placed in danger, harsh things are said, and eventually tough decisions must be made. For Alistair, vulnerability and trust come very hard. Thankfully, he also has a very pushy sister who shows up in the right place and the right time to kick his behind into shape.
Enjoyable story - one of my favorite parts - every time Helen would come to Alistair's room, he would grab her and pull her into the room. It was kinda funny but made the point all too well how starved he was for love and affection. Also, there were no major big misunderstandings between the H/h which tend to drive me nuts. Still, it's more of a 3 1/2 star book, but I'll round it off to four stars.
In the opening chapter, pedals opening page, the h muses to herself that (due to having only two soft bags for herself and her two children) that the carriage driver might think her desolate. I wonder if the author meant destitute.
Later, the h’s voice with without “censor” instead of censure.
And then twice the weird “demure” instead of “demur” was used.
I don’t even know why these things stood out to me, but I have read this authors books before and never been distracted like this.
Reviewed in the United States on February 18, 2019
Elizabeth Hoyt didn’t disappoint! “To Beguile a Beast” is a funny and compelling love story between a scarred recluse and a pretty mother of two children, with a secret past. It was an easy and entertaining read full of passionate and dramatic moments.
If you enjoy “Beauty and the Beast” retellings and a passionate historical romance with a lot of humour I also recommend to you "The Duchess Deal" by Tessa Dare and "When Beauty Tamed the Beast" (Fairy Tales, #2) by Eloisa James.
4.0 out of 5 starsLoved this Beauty and the Beast themed romance!
Reviewed in the United States on April 4, 2012
I bought To Beguile a Beast after searching for a Beauty and the Beast theme so if you like that theme in romance, this book will not disappoint. I haven't read that many historicals so I could be wrong, but Helen is different than the normal type of historical romance heroines I've read before. She doesn't come from money and doesn't have a title. In fact, before the story starts she's a Duke's mistress and has been for years. Even though the duke hasn't slept with her in years she knows how he thinks (that she's his possession) and fears that one day he will decide to take her children from her. It wouldn't be much of a stretch since he'd done it once before. Helen is a very brave heroine and owned the fact that she hadn't made very smart decisions in the past (but she was an actual teenager when the duke seduced her so it's hard to fault a young girl in love making dumb decisions).
Sir Alistair is rough around the edges and an incredibly sexy hero. After being scarred in the Colonial wars his face has undergone irreparable damage and he considers himself a beast. Helen's own daughter screamed when she first saw him and this seems to happen to him often which is why he stays in his castle and avoids going out in public. When a woman shows up on his doorstep and basically tells him she's going to be his housekeeper he's outraged. He tries to get rid of her and her two children but Helen is a determined woman. She needs a place to hide and thinks Scotland is far enough away from London.
Once she's fully immersed in Alistair's household, the story is a really sweet one. Helen is definitely aware of how he looks (would be hard to miss) but it's not something she dwells on and the way she acts around him makes him feel like he did before he was disfigured. Both characters undergo a lot of growth and have some hard decisions to make in regards to themselves and each other. There's also an underlying bit of suspense but it didn't overwhelm the story. When I bought this I didn't realize that it's the third book in a four book series so I should note that a couple characters from a previous book are briefly introduced but this can be read completely as a standalone. Overall, this is a very sensual, sexy read with likeable characters and a solid storyline. This is my first book by Elizabeth Hoyt but it won't be my last.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 14, 2014
Wonderfully written plot, loved this book.
There are two plotlines, a heroine who is escaping the father of her children and a hero who is trying to escape the horrors of his past. The story has excitement, betrayal, sorrow and pain, but it also has hope, and love, the promise of a possible future of happiness for the main protagonists and the children.
Great characters who interact beautifully with each other humorous, passionate, they are engaging, so believable. Children whose characters are well written with affection and love, enchanting.
Unfortunately I have read the books out of order, this being the first one, I plan to rectify this as I've purchased book one in the series and start it next.
5.0 out of 5 starsanother winner from Elizabeth Hoyt
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 26, 2013
I discovered this author through Kindle-how did I ever survive with out kindle?- through reading an excerpt from the Maiden Lane series and have read everyone since. So when the rest of the back catalogue became available I bought the lot. Usually earlier books can be a bit of a disappointment as the author is still learning their craft, be assured this is not the case and this,along with the others I have read maintain the same level. I loved the characters in this book and would recommend Elizabeth Hoyt to one and all.
4.0 out of 5 starsLoved this. It deals with the life of mistresses ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 13, 2014
Loved this. It deals with the life of mistresses in those times and how the we're shunned and treated by the rest of society, and how poorly there lovers could and did treat them. I always like the beauty and the beast type story and this really gave this.Ihave read all the four soldiers books but this was my favourite one.
3.0 out of 5 starsOne novel from an entertaining series.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 15, 2015
One of a series of four novels and I'm a pushover for a good series. The novel is as one would expect from the genre - romance and hot love scenes - and is competently written, better than many other writers within the genre. It did what I wanted and entertained me over the course of a couple of days.
I enjoyed this easy to read novel which i finished in a day. It was romantic and uncomplicated... loved the hero, even with all his scars emotional and physical - I wish he was mine!!! The other characters was also good, even the animals.