The Beau & The Belle - R.S. Grey

The Beau & The Belle - R.S. Grey
Beau Fortier starred in most of my cringe-worthy teenage fantasies. I met him when I was a junior in high school, a time that revolved exclusively around bad hair, failed forays into flirting, and scientific inquiries into which brand of toilet paper worked best for stuffing bras. That is, until Beau moved into the small guest house just beyond my bedroom window.

A 24-year-old law student at Tulane, Beau was as mysterious to me as second base (both in baseball and in the bedroom). He was older. Intimidating. Hot. Boys my age had chicken legs and chubby cheeks. Beau had calloused hands and a jaw cut from steel. Our interactions were scarce—mostly involving slight stalking on my end—and yet deep down, I desperately hoped he saw me as more of a potential lover than a lovesick loser. Turns out, I was fooling myself. My fragile ego learned that lesson the hard way.

Now, ten years later, we’re both back in New Orleans, and guess who suddenly can’t take his eyes off little ol’ me. My old friend, Mr. Fortier. But things have changed. I’m older now—poised and confident. My ego wears a bulletproof vest. The butterflies that once filled my stomach have all perished. When I was a teenager, Beau warned me to guard my heart. Let’s hope he knows how to guard his.

I'm sure everyone is familiar with the adage, don't judge a book by its cover? Unfortunately I do, and I couldn't resist this cover. Added in that this is set in New Orleans, one of my favourite places? I just had to read it.

I will confess that I had to read this in two very separate sittings. Starting off, I was somewhat confused why I was reading a romance novel that's hero was in college, and heroine in high school, and had some trepidation about continuing. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for romance, but it has to be all good, legal, and consenting. I will admit that it did throw me a bit of a curveball to see the romance so young (although I did google to check, and 17 is the legal age of consent in New Orleans, but still, touch worrisome), but thankfully, our hero did keep his distance and there is a moment at the end of part one which I'm still slightly dubious about, but I was curious to keep going.

Thankfully part two meets our hero and heroine at an older age and nothing worrisome about the two engaging in a relationship. The setting is gorgeous - honestly, if you haven't been to New Orleans, I'd highly recommend going, especially at Christmas-time, it's stunning - and the pace was light-hearted with a good flow that keeps you pushing through 2:10am in the morning to finish at 3:30am.

There are many times in a romance novel that I look at the actions and tones of our characters and it's hard to imagine it happening in real life as it just seems so far removed from how I, or anyone I know, would act. But, Ms. Grey has an interesting take in her novels that I didn't find that happening. There are a few awkward parts from the actions of her characters in how they react, including an argument occurring between our leads, that I haven't seen occur in any other romance novel. I feel looking at his actions that he's wrong in how he acts, and he semi-confesses to knowing this, but still goes ahead with it. Most other romance novels try to put an argument that each thinks they're right, not acknowledging their own faults, and while the argument is flawed, it's the human element that adds to this novel. Acknowledging that romance characters aren't perfect and do make mistakes add to the genuine romance in this novel that even though we all want that happy ending, it doesn't need to be perfect with no faults. To err is human, to forgive, divine.

Overall, I really did enjoy this novel. As mentioned, I was a bit concerned about the beginning, but it did blossom into a genuine romance between our lead characters, with an element of humanity not often seen for this reader in other romance novels, which was a great, welcomed change.

Rating: 4/5

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