Friday, March 16, 2018

Bellamy and the Brute by Alicia Michaels

From Goodreads:
A fresh twist on a classic story, Bellamy and the Brute proves true love really is blind.

When Bellamy McGuire is offered a summer job babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family, she's reluctant to accept. After all, everyone in town knows about the mysterious happenings at the mansion on the hill—including the sudden disappearance of the Baldwin's eldest son, Tate. The former football star and golden boy of Wellhollow Springs became a hermit at the age of sixteen, and no one has seen or heard from him since. Rumors abound as to why, with whisperings about a strange illness—one that causes deformity and turned him into a real-life monster. Bellamy wants to dismiss these rumors as gossip, but when she's told that if she takes the job, she must promise to never, ever visit the third floor of the mansion, she begins to wonder if there really is some dark truth hidden there. Tate's condition may not be the only secret being kept at Baldwin House. There are gaps in the family's financial history that don't add up, and surprising connections with unscrupulous characters. At night there are strange noises, unexplained cold drafts, and the electricity cuts out. And then there are the rose petals on the staircase. The rose petals that no one but Bellamy seems to be able to see. The rose petals that form a trail leading right up to the 3 rd floor, past the portrait of a handsome young man, and down a dark hallway where she promised she would never, ever go…

As Bellamy works to unravel the mysteries of Baldwin House and uncover the truth about Tate, she realizes that she is in way over her head… in more ways than one. Can her bravery and determination help to right the wrongs of the past and free the young man whose story has captured her heart?

My Take:
This was a nice mix of suspense and romance. All the elements of the classic Beauty and the Beast are present without the author feeling the need to stick to a play by play, exact reinterpretation at the fairy tale.

First off, the opening scene is straight out of a crime suspense novel. At first I wondered how it was going to tie in, but Michaels does it wonderfully in her own time. Bellamy is a breath of fresh air as well. She's kind and caring, but she's also no push over. Her father is the laughing stock of the town because he claims to see ghosts. Bell wants to believe, but it's hard until she starts seeing ghosts herself. As the mystery unravels to who these ghosts are and why they haunt Wellhollow Springs, Bell will start to fear the living more than the dead.

Tate's cursing is also a new and unique twist for the story. He's partially being cursed for his father's sins, but he had his own transgressions to atone for. I like how Michaels uses Bell's kindness to slowly draw him out and bring him to the point where he is ready to make amends.

I loved that this was a multiracial story. It's done well, without drawing big arrows to point stuff out. Bell is Bell and Tate is Tate. It makes for a lovely story from curiosity, to friendship, to attraction.

And Lincoln? While the fact he's the football star felt a little cliche, he really pulls off the perfect villain for Tate's hero.

I found the story well written, easy to get lost in, and at times, very much an edge of your seat kind of deal.

I give Bellamy and the Brute a Clean and 4.5 rating.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Movie Ratings in relation to my review:
Clean--Hallmark movies, some kissing, no nudity, no sex on or off "screen"
PG--Some innuendo but nothing kids don't hear every day, sex is all closed door
PG-13--some language (swear words not related to sex), more talk about sex, heavy petting, removal of clothing on screen, but sex is closed door.

 R--swearing (F bomb, on “screen” sex, sometimes feels like the whole story is about the sex and not the relationship or some other plot, but not always

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