Judith Ivory’s Beast is a marvelously romantic novel inspired by the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. Louise Vandermeer (the beauty) is an American heiress engaged to a man she has never met who satisfies her socially ambitious parents’ wishes for her. Charles d’Harcourt (the beast) agreed to marry Louise primarily for business reasons, but after he overhears her describing him as an ugly hunchback while she flirts with another man, his interest in her becomes personal. He decides to teach her a lesson about how irrelevant external beauty is, but the scheme goes horribly awry as both Louise and Charles fall in love. The plot moves well and is engrossing, but the main thing I find remarkable about this book is the masterful way Ms. Ivory manages to depict falling in love. The characters are beautifully drawn – smart and strong while full of fears and insecurities. The way they get to know and appreciate each other is nuanced and really moving. I cannot recommend this one more. If you haven’t gotten around to reading Beast yet you are in for a treat!