Taming Beauty was originally published in the Once Upon a Regency anthology, a wonderful anthology check out my review for the whole thing here.
If you couldn't tell by the name this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Leave it to Lynne Barron to turn this into an unexpected story with a beautiful and unique heroine. I'm a big fan of Lynne Barron and always love the heroines that she creates. A woman with a reputation the granddaughter and daughter of infamous courtesans she herself lives a life she wants to lead until an impoverished scared Baron looking to seek revenge comes into her life and changes everything.
Lord Dunaway is a horn dog! Not only did he get his own wife pregnant four time three girls and soon to be one boy, but he also had three other daughters by three different women. Not only that he seduced a young woman away from Baron Malleville, Jasper Grimley. Malleville also known as The Beast of Breckenridge used his fortune to ruin Dunaway, the only way to settle the debt his daughter's hand and thirty thousand pounds with interest, three percent per annum. Dunaway is escorting his sweet and innocent daughter (naive and quite annoying) Lady Priscilla Josephine Worcester, Sissy, to her betrothed estate in Cornwall. Along to act as "chaperone" Miss Lilith Aberdeen, Dunaway's oldest bastard child. Dunaway manipulated it so Lilith would seduce Malleville and have him call off the debt and break the contract. But once there Lilith feels an unlikely kinship with with Jasper and falls in love with the man but being who he is she won't let Jasper ruin everything to be with her she is willing to sacrifice her own happiness to see that he gets what he needs, unless her Father's machinations, once again, get in the way.
I love the twist Lynne put on the story, and it manages to be funny, erotic, and heartwarming all in one.
Book two follows five years later, which that was nicely done how Lynne casually imputed that bit of information in very nonchalant. Once again Lynne has written a character I empathize with, I can look up too, hell Harry is a remarkable woman. Harry wasn't looking for love she was looking for revenge, revenge against Dunway. Harry is the only daughter not to openly accept Dunway as her father, she hates him she loves her sisters but despises everything else about Dunway. Harry has made friends with other rakes in London and made connections, everything in order to get her revenge she thinks Dunway deserves. Phineas Griffith never expected to inherit, his grandfather disagreed with Phineas' uncle marrying for love and set to about to ruin the whole estate but then tragedy struck and both sons died leaving Phineas with an inheritance in ruins and two sisters to marry off. Phineas needs a heiress. A rake through and through he finds it easy to get in the good graces of those young heiress but the one person who continually catches his eye and can't stop thinking of is Harry O'Connell.
Harry tells people she is the daughter of a merchant and therefore most believe her to be penniless, especially with the way she likes to haggle prices with the merchants on Wellclose Square, but Harry has her finger in more lemon tarts then lets on. Phineas and Harry once they meet are constantly running into each other, partly by design by Phineas. Harry adheres to a strict schedule and Phineas is messing with it, but the more Harry learns about Phineas the more she likes him she is still not letting him screw up her plans of ruining her father but she helps him she knows people and she set up the connections he needs to help with his estate. In the beginning Harry may seem cold but you learn she has her priorities straight family is the most important thing to her and she ends up altering her plans but in her alteration can she keep Phineas?
Overall, outstanding. I love Harry and Phineas he's one of those rakes you can't help but like. Between Harry and Dunway's manipulations it was fun to see who really came out on top.