Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
So, here’s the thing. I loved Beauty and the Beast. I was fascinated by that movie when it first came out (the cartoon one not that horrible live action one) and felt like holy cow there’s a Disney Princess just like me. I would rather be reading and I would daydream for hours about traveling and leaving my little town. I even had my very own Gaston who is now in jail cause you know, attempted murder is still illegal you guys. Okay…moving on. So when I saw that NetGalley had Jasmine Guillory’s newest available and it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I jumped on it. I crossed my fingers and toes and hoped I would get this one to review. And I got it! [insert crowd cheers]. And then I read it. This just didn’t hit at all. I think the biggest issue is that unlike with the first book in the series, Guillory doesn’t have a unique take on this tale. At least not one that is going to make you want to re-read this. The first book in the series, “If the Shoe Fits” retold Cinderella and the setting was a Bachelorette style competition. This one just has Isabelle (Izzy to her friends) going off to get someone to write their memoir. It was just meh. Reading about how others write is not that interesting to read about. And the chemistry really wasn’t there for me either. The book does have a Happily Ever After so that was great, but honestly I felt bored throughout this one. The writing was solid, the flow was too, I just didn’t care about the actual plot or characters so 3 stars.
“By the Book” follows 25 year old Isabelle Marlowe who is working as an editorial assistant at Tale as Old as Time (TAOT). She’s initially excited to be working at TAOT, but two years later she feels stuck. She tried writing a book and passed it along to her coworker, Gavin Ridley, but he tells her that the draft isn’t very good. And she doesn’t seem to be progressing up the ladder at TAOT. When she gets to go to California for a convention, she pitches her boss Marta that she alone may be able to get through to a client of TAOT’s, Beau Towers. Beau is the child of two high profile Hollywood celebs who was provided an advance to write a memoir, but he has not been able to produce anything yet. Marta agrees that Isabelle can go, and she finds herself outside Beau’s towering home and tells him that she can give him pep talks to help him with his writing (yes I am serious). Even though Isabelle is initially put off by Beau, she does get an agreement she can stay to help him with his memoir.
I don’t know. Isabelle (Izzy) was not my cup of tea at all. Probably because she yelled and made nasty comments/assumptions about Beau and it just got tiresome real quick. The only thing that I can say that I loved about this character, was her love of books.
Beau wasn’t even beast like. Of course Guillory had to change this story up, can’t have a random male screaming at the heroine, but there’s no real temper or anything there. He literally makes fun of Izzy and she loses it and takes herself upstairs. And then she loses it again and someone he ends up apologizing to her. The whole thing was a mess. And I wish we had gotten more insight into him. Towards the end of the book we get to see how he feels about things, but I thought it was kind of a shoulder shrug moment.
I feel sad that for me there wasn’t any chemistry there at all. We have some fade to black love scenes which I don’t know if that happened cause of the power of the Mouse or what. But it felt lame especially since I have read Guillory’s other books and always enjoyed how she wrote her love scenes in the first two books of her “The Wedding Date” series.
If you are looking for any of the other characters from the cartoon to appear, you will have a while to wait. We have Michaela Kettle (yes that’s her last name) who is somehow Beau’s cook, but is also helping him get a foundation off the ground? It makes no sense to me why she would also be cooking. I just gave up.
Izzy at times feels like the furniture is talking to her and it made me roll my eyes.
I guess Gavin is supposed to be Gaston? Nah. It doesn’t really work. He’s just an aggravating coworker.
The book keeps things moving, but honestly reading about someone else teaching a person how to write a memoir or the tricks they used was not interesting. I fell asleep a few times reading this. The flow of the book was solid, things keep moving.
The ending was sweet. I just felt like this wasn’t a great retelling of Beauty and the Beast.