Veteran author Judith Cuevas writing as Judith Ivory has created a splendid, elegant rendition of a classic fairy tale where the disfigured beast is taught the lesson of love by a beauty willing to look beneath the surface.

Pampered American heiress Louise Vandermeer is ripped from her home and sent to England to be the bride of a man reported to be cruel and scarred. So when she meets a man in the dark aboard ship, Louise is immediately drawn to him. Believing she has nothing to lose and wanting to experience love before being married to a monster, she seizes the opportunity for romance.

Contrary to all the stories, and though he has been scarred by an illness, Charles d'Harcourt is far from an ugly beast. His sensuality has gained him a reputation for wooing his way into many a boudoir. It is a game for him to seduce his own fianc, until the gambit backfires and he finds himself falling in love with the spirited Lulu.

Once they are wed, Charles finds his wife still infatuated with her dream lover and he must find the way to show his princess that the beast is nothing but a myth and that she has made him whole and taught him to love.

If you delight in a classic with a new twist you will surely add BEAST to your collection. Elegant and eloquent, Judith Ivory's polished writing carries the story along with aplomb and will appeal to those who wish a lush, artistic romance. SENSUAL (Apr., 375 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin