by Rachel L. Demeter
Fairy Tale Retellings, #1
Release Date: March 15, 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Fairy Tale Retellings, Gothic Romance
Review: Demeter takes our beloved tale of Beauty and the Beast and retells it realistic with a twist. Those who love romance and the original tale will surely love this retelling of this classic fairytale. Rachel pulls you into their world with beautiful storytelling techniques that will have you turning the pages wanting to know more. I absolutely fell in love with it and have added Rachel to my favorites list of authors! I hope she continues down the path of retelling of classic fairytales!
Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.
A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST
Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.
A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE
Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…
Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.
Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.
Disclaimer: This is an edgy retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.
~ Isabelle bravely takes her papa’s place ~
Quite a while later, as Isabelle relaxed and soaked in the hearth’s warmth, she found herself nodding off to sleep.
Her mind detached from the stress of the past few days and receded to another time and place. She recalled her journeys with Papa when she’d been little more than a girl. All the villages they’d passed through; all the faces they’d seen. She thought of reading fairy tales beneath a bejeweled sky, of leaning against a mountain of crates as Papa pointed out the constellations and their eternal stories—
Rattling seized her attention and ruptured her thoughts. She peered at Papa, who was carefully examining his teacup. Not with his sightless eyes, of course—but with wandering fingertips. The same impressive coat of arms engraved the fine proclaim; Papa ran his weathered fingers over its surface, clearly in awe of the raised gold decorations and studded gems. The thing must have cost a small fortune. Indeed, she’d never beheld such finery. Even the wares Papa had once sold paled in comparison. The faded brim of his top hat hung low and covered his glassy eyes.
Then her mouth went dry as he slipped the teacup inside his coat.
Has he gone mad—or simply grown that desperate? It was completely unlike Papa to steal. How could he—and after being shown hospitality?
Her outcry startled him. He half leapt from the chair—and Isabelle watched in horror as the teacup tumbled out from the coat. It rattled and rolled onto the stone ground, shattering into a million pieces.
A gloved hand broke through the darkness, quicker than a lightning strike. The hooded figure emerged from the shadows and seized Papa by his cravat. His other hand clasped a branch of flickering candles. The illumination flashed across the dark folds of his cloak, soaking him in a pool of light.
“Stealing from me, are you? Breaking my family’s keepsakes?” A sharp jerk forced Papa to his feet. The rough movement sent the top hat tumbling from his head and onto the stone floor. Papa’s waxen features melted into an expression of horror and confusion.
Her heart pounding, Isabelle lunged forward and frantically cried out, “Let him alone! It was an accident. Don’t you see that you’re frightening him?”
“Good.” The simple declaration threw Isabelle into stunned silence. Papa called out for her as the man strode from the sitting room, his solid legs eating up the ground in swift, decisive strides. Mon Dieu, he was physically dragging Papa through the castle.
This isn’t happening. It cannot be…
“Stop it! Stop it now—you monster!” Isabelle picked up her skirts and frantically chased after them. Parts of the castle were dark and unkempt, causing her to trip several times over wayward pieces of furniture. Her heart violently pounded in her ears. The man moved impressively fast; between his agile stride and sweeping cloak, he almost appeared to float through the corridors. Plopping onto the stone floor, his dog gave up trying to keep pace. Dust motes rose and fell in midair like ashes, obscuring her vision. She followed the branch’s illumination, watching as the candlelight threw prisms along the walls and floor.
“Please, monsieur. Have mercy, I beg you! He didn’t know any better. He would never—”
“No one steals from me.” His low voice echoed in the darkness, steady as a war drum.
Isabelle felt herself descending. She ducked as she crossed a low archway, where she was met with a steep flight of stairs. A mouth into Hell. The ceiling lurked unusually low and was strung with cobwebs. Isabelle hiked up her skirts, which were now a filthy mess, and raced down the decayed steps. The hooded figure kept a swift pace while she desperately pursued Papa’s frightened cries.
Plagued by the darkness, Isabelle tripped and crashed down the stone steps. Pain cascaded through her body, knocking the breath from her lungs. Her skinned knees and elbows throbbed, her heart pounded, her head burned. She spared a moment to catch her breath as she struggled to her feet and resumed her vain quest. Papa’s muffled pleas and the sound of slamming bars ripped at her very soul.
The dank dungeon was nearly black. She slowed her pace, moving toward a beam of light at the far end. Rats the size of kittens scurried across the stone floor and filled the darkness with their terrible squeaking. Her heart thudding, Isabelle rushed through the maze of cells, following Papa’s voice and that flickering light. Chains and crude-looking objects littered the ground—torture devices from a past age, she realized with a shudder.
She found them.
Papa was grasping the rusted bars; disoriented and frightened, he was murmuring incoherent pleas. Tears fell from his sightless eyes, though Isabelle knew he fought to restrain them. The branch of candles sat in front of the cell, its wavering light illuminating his terrified expression.
“Forgive me. I have wronged you when you showed my daughter and me hospitality and mercy. Please, monsieur!”
The man towered before him, silent and still. His long arms remaining crossed, he stood with his lean torso straighter than a broadsword. His hood was drawn back, though Isabelle couldn’t see his face from her angle.
“Papa, I’m here,” she said beneath the weight of a strained breath.
Not sparing a moment, she dashed over to the cell—and the man slowly rotated into sight.
Except he resembled more of a beast than any man she’d ever seen.
Isabelle clamped both hands over her mouth and forced her eyes away. The sight burned—and the inferno in his gaze only kindled that fire.
Half of his face looked monstrously twisted; charred mounds of puckered flesh distorted the features beyond any recognition, draining him of all traces of humanity. A slab of skull gleamed in the candlelight, poking through a heap of burned, leather-like skin. His hairline receded on the left side of his face and slanted high above a shriveled ear.
Under the severe scarring, his age was more or less indistinguishable—though Isabelle guessed he wasn’t a day under thirty-five.
But his eyes were breathtaking. Two brilliant sapphires. There was also a great sadness and anger in those eyes, as if he’d suffered more than his share of original sin. Alas, as she gazed into his eyes, all she saw was blue ice—an endless, arctic landscape of cold desolation.
The man turned away, appearing greatly affected by her stare, and hastily rearranged the hood. His scarred hands trembled as he smoothed down the cloak’s thick folds.
“Release him,” she demanded. “He didn’t mean any harm. I—”
“No one meddles with my family’s possessions. He can rot down here as my prisoner. He ought to count himself fortunate that I haven’t taken his hand.”
“Your prisoner? This… this is a mistake! You must believe me. He’d never—”
A deep, husky chuckle cut through her plea. “Even so.”
“Please. Just let him out.”
“It’s too late for that.” Those words seemed to speak volumes. He exhaled a long breath, and Isabelle watched as it unfurled against the darkness in a cloud.
“Why… why are you so angry? Why must you be so hateful? So cruel?”
“If I let him go,” he said at length, “what can you offer in return?” Isabelle couldn’t find her tongue. She wandered directly in front of the cell, almost in a lucid trance, and clasped the cold bars. Papa was huddled in the corner now, coughing and shivering. Guilt, unlike anything she’d known before, pulsated through her.
I’m to blame for this. And if Papa stays here, he’ll die well within a fortnight, likely much sooner…
“Get out of my sight.” The man’s voice jarred Isabelle from her inward stupor. She turned to him and stepped forward, raising her chin at a defiant angle.
I am not so easily broken or frightened.
I am a survivor.
She scanned her empty, dank surroundings: the cold stone walls, sweeping cobwebs, and blazing branch of candles. Despair encased her. Stark emptiness. She dared to step closer while a faint trace of pity bloomed inside her heart.
They stood centimeters apart. Heat radiated from the man’s body, surrounding her, immersing her. Isabelle vainly searched for softness in him, but only a dark, embittered spirit reached her. She stared up at his towering frame and gestured for him to bow forward. He hesitated, then did as she commanded. Her hands shook, damn her, as she peeled back his hood and met that piercing gaze again.
Half of his face was handsome—devastatingly so. In her twenty-two years of life, she’d never beheld such haunting beauty.
Jet‑black waves, rich and flowing, framed the chiseled lines of his startling features. Stubble peppered the strong curve of his jawline and shadowed a smooth, sculpted cheekbone. The right side of his face was striking, beautiful—a stark contrast to its wrecked counterpart. And within those patrician angles and intense eyes, she encountered his humanity.
His was a face of inconsistencies. Complex. Damaged. Predatory. And more than a bit intriguing.
“I will stay with you,” she heard herself whisper. “In my father’s place.”
“Isabelle—no! I forbid it!”
The man folded long, strong arms across his broad chest. His gaze crawled down her face and settled on the rise of her breasts—planting directly on her silver cross.
“I demand he’s seen by the finest of physicians.”
“Isabelle! Listen to me! I’m an old man. I’m dying. I—”
The man’s dark, strangely erotic voice cut through the cellar, and his eyes whipped back to her own with a startling force. “As my mistress.”
“You must stay here as my mistress. For as long as I demand. Perhaps forever.”
The word rang with a note of finality.
“Please, Isabelle! I beg you. Don’t do this!”
How could I endure it?
“Do as I say and your father shall safely return home.” He waved his cloaked arms with a magician’s delicate grace. “Your father—whatever family you may have—shall want for nothing. A house, clothing, anything they require. You only need to say the word. Your father will be under my protection—under the care of nurses and physicians—until his last breath.”
Isabelle briefly recalled what—and who—was waiting for her back in Ruillé. This fate wouldn’t be much worse. This desolate castle could serve as the perfect hideout. Papa would live in France, free from Raphael’s clutches and in the hands of the world’s greatest physicians…
“How… how can I trust you?” And does he even have the wealth to uphold such a promise?
She had faith Papa would send help once his health recovered. Or she’d find a way out, means of escape. In the interim, she would survive this grim castle and whatever horrors it concealed.
Papa would not. The castle would crush him beneath its dark heel in a matter of days.
Isabelle glanced at Papa again, then stared into the man’s brilliant eyes. There, lurking within those expressive depths, she found the softness she’d pursued minutes before.
She sucked in her breath and nodded her agreement.
“It is done.” The man swept backward. “He’s to remain down here till first light. Then our agreement shall be carried out. In the meantime, I will bring blankets and food—”
“But it’s so cold! He—”
“Stole from me while he was a guest in my castle.”
He would not compromise. That much was certain.
“I demand to stay with him.”
“As you please.” He unlocked the cell. “Beyond the dungeon lies a labyrinth. Try to escape, and you’ll be lost forever.”
He tapped the wall with his booted heel. It swiveled, spun, and rotated, sweeping her captor to the other side…
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I live in beautiful sunny California with Teddy, my goofy Polish lowland sheepdog, and my high school sweetheart of fourteen years. Richard and I began dating during our freshman year and have been together ever since. He’s truly my soul mate and greatest inspiration. I’m so grateful to have found him at such a young age!
I graduated from Chapman University’s film school with a B.A. in Screenwriting. I realized in my junior year that my true passion lies in novel writing. My professors almost always praised my screenplays and characters, but they’d often critique, “It’s too descriptive. It reads like a novel.” And then it hit me. My writer’s voice was that of a novelist.
If you’ve ever read my work, it’s no secret that I have a very descriptive and detailed style.
Even though I’m primarily a novelist, film school deepened my love for crafting fiction tenfold; it taught me to concentrate on plotting, dynamic characters, and effective pacing, as well as the importance of visual storytelling. Every one of us got hit over the head with the “show, don’t tell” rule from day one! I strongly encourage all writers to intimately familiarize themselves with the three-act structure (something that’s in no way exclusive to screenwriting, of course) and beat sheets. Two invaluable books: Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and David Howard’s How to Build a Great Screenplay.
At the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade my college education for anything in the world—and I truly feel that cinema holds a uniquely powerful magic. The collaboration that goes into making a film is remarkable and beyond inspiring. It’s truly an amazing field, filled with talented personalities and voices.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
I’ve loved Beauty and the Beast all my life. Plain and simple. The fairy tale has always remained close to my heart and a constant source of inspiration. It fills me with such joy to share my own retelling of this breathtaking story. Even though my interpretation is filled with shadows, it also embraces light, hope, second chances, and of course, true beauty and love.
Although the original fairy tale brims with magic, at its heart, it’s a story of a suffering soul, alone and ostracized for his appearance, who yearns to be loved for himself. Since I tend to write darker historical romances, I wondered, “What if the beast wasn’t literally a beast—but a deformed man? And what if he wasn’t cursed by an enchantress (or evil fairy, depending on the version), and instead was cursed by a terrible personal tragedy?” And so came the framework for my retelling: Beauty and the Beast reimagined with a dark and realistic twist. The plot follows the classic fairy tale closely, though the Phantom of the Opera/Erik inspired Adam’s (the Beast) character.
Touching back on my film school origins—this story began as my thesis in college. It wasn’t until a year and a half ago that I decided to write it as a novel/series!
How do you create your characters?
I’ve always had a strong passion for the tortured hero, and creating these characters is perhaps my favorite part of the writing process.
Do I have a recipe for crafting a tortured hero, you ask?
In a way, yes! Tortured heroes come in a variety of personality types and “flavors,” but I would say a mandatory component is the reader’s ability to identify with their human core. There must be something about the character that allows an intimate look inside their soul—something that creates empathy and a profound understanding of how the character can to be in his or her current state.
When crafting a tortured character or anti-hero, you don’t have to make them easy to root for or even particularly likable; however, the reader must be able to understand him or her. Deeply. As a result, a rich and well-developed backstory is crucial for these types of characters.
What inspires you and what got your started in writing?
Writing is my life’s blood, my passion, and my greatest obsession. It always has been and always will be. I’ve been writing before I physically learned to write. As a child, one of my favorite pastimes was imagining stories and characters while my mom would record them for me.
Inspiration comes from everywhere. The films and shows I watch. A poignant line of dialogue. The news. Spending time in nature. Listening to music. People watching. For me, the world is a beautiful, stimulating place and a blank canvas for my imagination.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I have this superpower that allows me to write anywhere. Seriously. And at any time. While working out on the elliptical… in the car (when someone else is driving, of course)… while standing in line for groceries…
But ideally? Snuggled up in bed with my MacBook Pro, iPad, or a good old fashion notebook and fountain pen.
Strangely enough, I often think of my strongest story ideas while driving or in the shower. (I’ve heard this isn’t uncommon for writers.) I have a magnetic, waterproof notepad hanging on my shower wall just for this purpose/ It’s awesome and prevents good ideas “go down the drain.” 😉
How do you get your ideas for writing?
By living, reading, and indulging in my own fantasies and dreams. My stories usually begin as a seed—maybe an idea for a character or a unique “meet-cute” comes to mind. Then, from there, I roll with it and flesh out the world with plot outlines, character profiles, world building sketches, etc.
What do you like to read?
My taste is pretty eclectic, but romance, horror, and historical fiction books make up most my TBR pile. Most of the time, I enjoy emotional stories that make me think and feel deeply.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
Let your first draft stink. Like shit. Simply free your imagination and put the pen to the paper. Let your muse carry you. The first draft is telling yourself the story. Every draft after is telling the story in the most powerful way possible. Realizing my first draft didn’t have to be perfect—it only had to be written (then, later on, rewritten and rewritten)—was the greatest breakthrough in my career.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you for reading my interview! I hope you enjoy my dark and realistic twist on the most enchanting and timeless love story ever told. 🙂