Beauty and the Highland Beast (Highland Fairy Tale #1)
Swerve / June 21, 2016 / $3.99 digital
Lecia Cornwall is a new author for me and I’m so thankful I found her. Beauty and the Highland Beast is a five-star historical romance for me. What captured me from the beginning sentence is Lecia Cornwall’s use of prose. The writing is beautiful and I found myself cherishing every sentence. Usually books like these I speed-read. But Beauty and the Highland Beast resonated with me to the point that I found myself reading as slow as I could in order to soak in the story.
The first in A Highland Fairy Tale series, Beauty and the Highland Beast is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Scottish style. Alasdair (Dair) Og Sinclair witnesses mad trauma when his cousin is abused and murdered in front of him. Of course, today we know that Dair suffers from PTSD. But back then he was written off by most as having gone mad. In a sense, that is true too. In desperation, his father, chief of their clan, calls on the local midwife to save his son. She says that he must find a virgin to cure him, fearing that her attempts to heal him might fail.
Enter the MacLeod clan. Fiona (Fia) Margaret MacPhail MacLeod is the daughter who is often overlooked because of her clumsiness and her disabilities. However, she is the healer in the family, often nursing wild animals back to health. Not in a million years does her father think that Fia will ever marry, so he begrudgingly sends Fia to the Sinclairs, along with her sister Meggie. Fia’s tenderness, however, is exactly what Dair needs.
What I love about this retelling is how Fia’s kindness, despite being “less than perfect” on the exterior, is what ends up being perfect for Dair. The goodness in a person’s heart increases one’s attractiveness. This is the case for Dair as well. Both are more than their appearance suggests. Fia is still lovely, though having any physical difference can be difficult to embrace.
She was nervous. He could tell by her stillness, the way she looked at him from under her lashes. She was afraid of him, but not the cat? He must look worse, far worse, than he thought—a monster. He’d avoided mirrors of late, but he’d seen the horror in the eyes of folk who’d known him all his life. This woman was a stranger, would never know the man he once was, whole and handsome.
Yet, time again, this story reminds us that love is more than skin-deep. Like a wild and abused animal, getting past Dair’s protection mechanisms takes patience.
There was a wildness about him that made her heart beat faster, made her quiver with fear—and excitement too—as if she’d happened on an injured wolf caught in a snare. She put her hand to her heart, felt it beating like a trapped bird.
But the ache in her chest was familiar. It came from a desire to help, to heal, to soothe, but he didn’t want her help. He’d jerked away from her touch, his pride every bit as formidable as a wolf’s. She suspected he wasn’t one to accept help when he was whole and healthy, and now he was ashamed of his wounds, of what had happened to him, of what he’d become.
She was familiar with that feeling too.
That feeling that her father never expects her to marry or find love.
“…Did you expect he’d marry you?” he grated.
Fia stared at her hands. “I—no, of course not. No, I’ve no hope of that.” But she had hoped, at least secretly, that if not Alasdair Og, then perhaps someone else…”
Fia also must embrace the fact that she too, is worthy of love, despite her being different socially and physically. Dair, empathetic to both internal and external scars, is just the man to help her realize her happy ever after is not a pipedream but a reality.
“I only see you, Fia. Even if there were a hundred women here now, you’d still be the most beautiful.”
She wanted to believe him—oh, how she wanted to! She felt the tingle of his touch rushing through her body, pooling in her belly, her breasts. She shut her eyes, breathless, and he took the gesture for denial. He turned her to face him, lifted her chin with his finger, and she found herself staring up into his eyes again.
“You are beautiful,” he insisted, his voice gruff.
And don’t we all long to hear the man of our dreams call us beautiful because of who we are?
Learn more about or order a copy of Beauty and the Highland Beast by Lecia Cornwall, available June 21, 2016:
Tanya is a fanatic of all things romance, dabbles in Happily Ever Afters under the pen name of Lily Kay, and teaches sociology part-time. You can follow her on twitter @tamushamu, @AuthorLilyKay, or on facebook.com/Authorlilykay.