Bella and the Beast
by Olivia Drake
Genre: Historical Romance
Bella Jones’ father, Sir Seymour Jones, was an explorer/adventurer who revealed to her on his deathbed that the late Duke of Aylwin, whom he helped inquire antiquities in Egypt, had promised him half of a pharaoh’s treasure. However, Bella must find the map to the hidden trove to prevent her and her brother and sister from living in poverty.
Bella takes a job as a curator working for the late duke’s son to help him catalogue his father’s artifacts in London. She doesn’t reveal who she is or what her motives are, but when the attraction between them because impossible to ignore, the issue of the hidden treasure becomes a more complicated secret than either of them could ever imagine.
Bella Jones grew up with her father Sir Seymour Jones, moving from one place to another, digging sites and studying archaeological artifacts. When her father died, he told her to find Sir Aylwin and claim the other half of the pharaoh’s inheritance. Thanks to Lady Milford, Bella learned about that the Duke of Aylwin was looking for a curator for Egyptian artifacts, and Bella grabbed that opportunity to investigate. Little did she know that she was being match-made and that the Duke was very much part of her childhood.
Miles Grayson, the fifth Duke of Aylwin had always kept for himself, never going out of his palace, not wanting to be disturbed from his antiquities. He didn’t expect the audacious Bella Jones barging into his life and awakening his desires. But there was something about Bella that mystified him and he intended to find it out.
This is a regency-styled retelling of Beauty and The Beast, but it is more on the erotic side. The previous retellings I’ve read were mostly fairytales and fantasies and romance. Bella and the Beast is quite different and it surprised me. I learned more about Egyptian anthropology and archaeological finds in this book, more than what I learned in high school. (Ha, that may sound weird but it’s true. I guess I wasn’t listening much to my history teacher during that time. LOL) I think, that aspect alone got my attention until the end.
Regarding The Duke and his treatment with Bella, I wasn’t really impressed. He was no gentleman at all. I thought he was an arrogant aristocrat which perfectly fit his role as The Beast. Bella is no beauty either, as she fully admitted that her gypsy attitude often discouraged men from approaching her. But she’s one feisty and reckless daredevil. She didn’t take no for an answer, she bent rules.. why, she even fought with ghosts! This damsel wasn’t in distress and didn’t need rescuing, thank you very much.
Overall, I enjoyed the lessons in anthropology, the quirks and mettlesome attitude of Bella , plus the steamy scenes at that. I could have enjoyed it more if the Duke wasn’t overly manwhorish. Ugh.