In Bed with the Beast, Contemporary Romance by Tara Sivec
Series: The Naught Princess Club #2
The first book in the Naughty Princess Club was a roller coaster ride for me. The author was new to me and I am extremely picky when it comes to Contemporary Romance. My fairy tale ending was that I adored that book and I felt really good about liking it. It’s a clever, sexy, empowering story.
In Bed with the Beast is possibly even better. I was sent an ARC by the publisher through NetGalley and invited to review it, which sent me over the moon.
Book nerd Belle Reading is determined to take charge of her life and save the library she’s worked in and loved for nine years. But she’s all too aware of the many things that hold her back. She spends most of the book fighting them. Sometimes she’s wondrously victorious. Other times, not so much. A fight with her overprotective father at the beginning is the latter. He kicks her out and she starts sleeping in the library.
For various reasons, she doesn’t want to tell her friends she’s homeless. Then, in a truly brilliant twist on the source fairy tale, she winds up living with Beast, the bouncer she met in the first book. He’s gruff and surly, however he’s also well-read and caring in his own way. As fits a Beauty and the Beast story, they become friends first. Although of course the unresolved sexual tension is a delightful undercurrent throughout.
As a story that takes inspiration from a fairy tale, it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen—and I have read a boatload of fairy tale retellings. I particularly love the way that Sivec took plot points and scenes from Disney and translated them to her setting. It’s passionate and respectful and creative AF. Beast is named Vincent Addams, a nod to the 1985 television show and the Disney animated film. When he told Belle his first name, I literally laughed out loud. I kind of wanted to applaud. Screw Ready Player One. THIS is how you do a reference. It’s subtle, clever, and funny but also sweet and lovely. All of the characters’ name references are.
There is no makeover for either character. It isn’t overplayed. Both Belle and Vincent change over the course of the story to become better people due to their own initiatives and the affection and respect they have for each other. But they expressly do not makeover or ‘fix’ each other. Ariel tries to talk Belle into contact lenses to replace her glasses—as if wearing glasses prevents Belle from being sexy or beautiful—and Cindy treats Belle as if she’s her mother, but she doesn’t put up with their shit. As for Vincent, he doesn’t have to change his attitude to be sunny or charming.
”He’s been overly polite with me during the few minutes each day we see each other, which I’m quickly realizing I don’t like one bit. I’ve actually grown to kind of like his surly, overbearing nature.”
Instead, he opens up and learns to trust Belle and communicate better.
While this was a five star book for me, there were times I shook my head a little. Stockholm Syndrome is more of a buzzword than an actual thing. It isn’t in the DSM-5. I liked that it came up, since it’s often levied against Beauty and the Beast, yet Belle with all of her factoids and reading didn’t take the opportunity to kick it in the ass. That gave me a sad face. It bothered me that virginity was used as an insult and this was not addressed. There’s nothing wrong with being a virgin. The moment passed, but I didn’t care for it. Then at the end, there’s a bit of a twist to keep Belle and Vincent apart that maybe resolves too quickly. I didn’t really mind that, but I could see how someone else might.
Overall though, I seriously loved this book. It was entertaining, the main character is funny and sweet, and the supporting cast provide plenty of humour without overstepping. The romance is absolutely perfect. Just the right blend of endearing, steamy, and mature discussion.
I do not reread hardly anything—too many unread books waiting on my TBR—but I could reread the Naughty Princess Club books any time.