The Prince's Captive Virgin by Maisey Yates
Tale as old as the animated Disney movie
Once Upon a Seduction…
lived a reviewer who adored fantasy and fairy tales, and Presents’ fairy tales and Beauty & the Beast best of all.
I loved how the strong, emotional beginning evokes a vivid sense of place with few words. The description paints a strong visual from the first Disney Beauty & the Beast, which leaves your imagination with nothing much else to do...
The heroine is also strong and has agency. It's hard to credit the author for this as the beginning sets out to mirror the movie version. I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about the heroine having a boyfriend, but was happy to reserve judgement.
Evoking B&B so strongly starts to become both a blessing and a curse; it’s hard to see past the Disney animated image to the Presents’ version. I kept seeing the animated beast rather than this Prince Adam and hearing his voice. The story easily invited me in, but I think evoking it more lightly wouldn’t allow the old tale to intrude on the new. Either that or the present-day characters need to be more strongly visual to make sure the older story is merely an echo, a fairy-tale promise giving depth to the present.
Maisey Yates has a strong voice – but this other voice (song as old as rhyme) overpowers it at times. It’s difficult for her to make us pay attention to her romance when we’re sharing the story with other characters conjured on the page.
About 1/3 of the way through, the Modern retelling starts to assert itself and I started to ‘see’ Prince Adam’s character as opposed to the original Beast’s and for Belle to become Yates’ Belle rather than Disney’s.
Ungeneric emotion and conflict are at the heart of Maisey Yates' voice, and, as you'd expect from her books, there's a lot of emotional maturity delivered in an accessible voice.
Writing lesson learned: when introducing other characters from the trilogy, be careful they don’t overshadow the on-page romance as well. There’s a fine line--I discovered on my last Presents’ read--between making a character intriguing enough to want to read his or her story, and so intriguing that you’re ready to ditch this book’s hero. The introduction of Adam’s friends is done with a much lighter hand here.
When Belle faces down the angry mob (paparazzi), I like how she owns the moment, how it’s twisted.
I love that there’s a transformation scene. Like the ‘angry mob’ scene, it gives a nice visual and emotional depth without intruding too much into the here and now. It too is done with a much lighter touch. I would have liked that Belle instigates it, if it wasn’t another scene where she’s strong at the expense of his Presents' alpha-beastness. The hero and heroine also lose some heroicness in their treatment of her boyfriend.
The Black Moment works from a Presents-driven, hero-driven point of view. The emotional pay-off is good, it’s passionate, it fits the characters, it’s worth sticking with the story for. Yet, if a flaming torch had shed more light on Yates' Belle and Adam sooner, and on some of the wobbly stepping stones in the conflict arc, I'd have felt this so much more here.
3 out of 5 enchanted rose petals
ARC from Harlequin via NetGalley in return for feedback.