The Belle and The Beard
by Kate Canterbary
There is a lot that can be said about “The Belle and the Beard” by Kate Canterbary but since this is a book review and not a literary analysis, I’m going to try and be judicious about what I touch upon. First, I really did enjoy this book. Second, the title alludes to ‘Beauty and the Beast’ but characterizing purely based upon surface-level stereotypes. Linden is the Beast – assigning the man with a beard the role of Beast just based on gruffness and facial hair. He’s actually a very sensitive guy. Jasper-Anne, the female lead, has a complicated emotional history with the word “beautiful” and also has a facial birthmark that has caused her serious stress in her life. She has the mannerisms of a Southern Belle at times and uses them as armor against the world.
As the book blurb explains, the lead characters end up as neighbors when the public humiliation that blows up her career prompts Jasper’s escape to the small cottage she inherited that happens to be next door to Linden’s. own cottage. The cottage is as big a disaster as her life … And that’s really bad. Enemies, frenemies, friends, friends with some benefits, lovers and more – these 2 characters go through a lot of changes. Linden and Jasper are both uncomfortable with their own emotions, although for different reasons. It takes them a long time to work out a love language that works for them. It felt a little repetitive sometimes, but since it would be something that would really take time figure out in real life, the compressed timeline of a novel is actually short. The author does a good job balancing attraction and resistance, passion and humor, satisfaction and discontent.
Expected gender roles and the concept of pansexuality are important bits of this story because they give us windows into the hearts of both characters. If that’s an issue for you, please try to be open-minded about it because references made to the issue are not at all salacious or gratuitous; It is another way the author shines a light on the inner workings of the characters. When I started reading this book I had no idea that it was about Linden the third triplet sibling of Magnolia and Ash from ‘The Magnolia Chronicles’ and ‘Boss in the Bedsheets’ respectively. You need not have read either of those books to enjoy this one, but if you have it’s great to see them appear as secondary characters. The hippie parents of the triplets also appear in this story, and they are awesome.