Arabella and the Beast

Rebecca Baldwin, Author St. Martin's Press $15.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-312-02163-4
The unlikely conceit of this lightweight novelthat a well-born 19th century English gentleman would put up his daughter as collateral for his gambling debtsresults in the marriage of Arabella, the daughter, to Beast Blackwater, who can accede to the peerage (and the inheritance) only with a pedigreed wife in tow. Arabella, a sit-by-the-fire in threadbare garments who has been hostage to the ambition of a wicked stepmother and two ugly stepsisters, moves in with Beast and straightway becomes the toast of London. While a Russian nobleman dances attendance and sought-after invitations flow in, the married pair fall in love but, too shy to acknowledge it, continue to sleep apart. The sense of make-believe is pervasive, compounded by mock-Regency language, absurdly stock characters and fulsome descriptions of milady's wardrobe and household appurtenances. But because Arabella is spunky as well as sweet, and because Beast is man enough to recognize her virtues and forsake his vices, the reader enjoys the Cinderella-like tale. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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