“When Alexandra Miller takes off for a remote spot in New Hampshire to paint Leland Crompton’s portrait, nothing has prepared her for what’s in store. The house is almost a castle, with its massive chimney, mullioned windows, and iron-work gate with wrought-iron roses. The housekeeper is unnerving. And Lee himself is hideously disfigured by a rare genetic disease. But in their long hours of work together deep in the wintry woods, Alix discovers that beneath Lee’s disturbing exterior lies a true prince. Gradually, she realizes that she loves him. And he absolutely refuses to believe her.” –Summary from Amazon.
I love a good retelling of a classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast has always been a favorite of mine, so finding this book was perfect for me. It’s a beautiful, emotional, modern spin on a beloved classic.
Alix and Lee are both instantly loveable. Alix is an up-and-coming artist, daughter of a well known artist (her father). It was her father that was asked to do the portrait of Leland Crompton, but he asked his daughter to go instead because he is getting up in years and hadn’t been feeling well. Alix, more into contemporary, expressionist art, wasn’t too keen on the idea but agreed for her father. She had no idea about Lee’s condition, so it was a surprise to say the least.
Lee didn’t really want the portrait, since he has been hiding himself away in his mansion for years because of his insecurities of his genetic disease and the horrible way people react to it. He asked for the portrait to be done just for the sake of carrying on the family tradition, figured he’d send it to his mother perhaps. And he was expecting a man, not his beautiful daughter, to be the one who came to paint him. So he was surprised as well.
And they are both surprised when they begin to fall for each other. Lee more so than Alix, since he can’t comprehend any woman falling for a man like him. He has to learn to trust in himself before he can trust in her.
A bit of a spoiler alert here:
There isn’t a fairy tale happily ever after with this story. It seems like there might be, but there is a heartbreaking twist at the end that trips up that perfect ending. I suppose that’s more in line with real life – beautiful and utterly devastating. Still, it’s a beautifully written story, endearing and captivating, with heartrendingly true to life characters – their inner turmoil laid bare on the pages before you.