Ahoy there me mateys! This be me third book by the author and me third five star read. What I find amazing about all of the author’s books is that they feel so different from each other. The first was a vampire story with stunning vampire culture and history. The second was a Mayan fairy-tale set during the Jazz age in Mexico. And this book was a romance with a hint of fantasy set in the Belle Époque era.
Now I don’t normally do romance but I be determined to read all of this author’s novels. I didn’t even look up the blurb of this one before reading. I just tucked in and devoured it. This romance ended up floating me boat.
This is a character driven book. Hector has returned to the city of Loisail after a ten year absence. He is determined to look up his old love, Valérie Beaulieu, and rekindle their relationship despite the fact that she be married. He knows that she still loves him. While at a party, Hector ends up inadvertently meeting Valérie’s niece, Nina. With this introduction a bold plan is concocted to get Valérie back using Nina as bait.
Aye, Hector be a sod at first and I kinda hated him. But of course, Moreno-Garcia doesn’t make things easy and turned me thoughts all about during this read. Nina herself is awesome. She is having her first Season and Valérie is supposed to help the country bumpkin find a husband. But Nina makes things difficult. She has no ideas about proper fashion, etiquette, or social standards. Nina is blunt, intelligent, and naive. She would rather be collecting beetles and butterflies. Plus she be telekinetic. Her fortune should have overcome these obstacles but the real problem is that Nina cannot control her powers. Gossip is flowing and Nina’s marriage prospects cannot handle the scandal.
And really that is the backbone of the book – societal standards. Hector is an entertainer making a living by performing with his telekinesis. His money is no match for his lack of noble title and birth. Nina cannot fit herself into the mold of modern, rich society despite her wealth. There is the double standard of her talents being horrible just because she is a woman. And Valérie is the epitome of good society and sets all trends. Though she isn’t all sparkling on the inside. I hate her. The complicated relationships in this book are what made me not want to put it down. As Matey Mogsy says:
I won’t lie, I wanted to throttle nearly everyone in this book, but in this they have something in common with characters in a soap opera—you just love to hate them. Likewise, I found it impossible to tear myself away from the drama . . . because Silvia Moreno-Garcia knows how to spin a good yarn, and more importantly, she knows what it takes to capture the reader’s attention. Rather than shy away from the usual conventions of the fantasy of manners genre, she instead revels in them, offering up a lavish feast of romantic melodrama, high societal punctilio, and weaponized etiquette.
Aye, that Mogsy knows how to capture me thoughts in her own words. At times I wanted to strangle all three of the main characters but still ended up wanting the happy ending. This is not like me normal grumpy self. But here I was rooting for all the miscommunication to be resolved and for true love to triumph. Mostly I just wanted silly, yet wonderful, Nina to be happy. It’s not like the plot truly surprised me but I was delighted all the same.
This is a slow-burn type of story. Sort of Austen-like in the portrayal of manners and the other characters outside of the main three. The telekinesis is present but mostly plays out in the background. The writing continues to be superb. Not that I expected different. The world building was awesome. The romance element was unexpected (as I skipped the blurb) but ultimately I loved it. Arrrr!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
A young woman finding her way
It is Antonina Beaulieu’s first Grand Season in the elegant city of Loisail. A chance to take her place in high society, to find a suitable husband, and to leave her checkered past behind. Because Antonina possesses telekinetic powers, powers she can’t control, that have made her the subject of cruel gossip.
A gentleman with a secret
Famed telekinetic performer Hector Auvray is also new to the city. He arrives in Loisail with the intent of recapturing the heart of his former flame, the beautiful Valérie Beaulieu, and finds his way into her household by courting Antonina.
Astounded by Hector’s abilities, which she wishes to master, and flattered by his attention, Antonina does not suspect the duplicitous drama which will unfold.
A romance with a dash of the fantastic
Set in a sumptuous world inspired by the Belle Epoque, where scandal is a dreaded weapon, The Beautiful Ones is a tale of desire and betrayal, and the struggle between conformity and passion.
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