Welcome to the first edition of Trope Tuesday! I decided to start off this series talking about my favorite trope of all time - Beauty and the Beast. I can't get enough of this storyline, and anytime I see a book that follows this trope, I immediately devour it. The idea that one person can look past another's gruff exterior to who they are within is both inspiring and beautiful.
My obsession with this trope started with, of course, Disney's Beauty and the Beast. My parents had something called a LaserDisc player (I'm aging both myself and you, if you know what it is), and they had bought a "Work in Progress" version of Beauty and the Beast. It was actually very cool, because while the movie was there from start to finish, many scenes had not been fully animated. This meant that they were black and white drawings, enough to show what was happening but not enough to show true motion. I didn't see a fully animated Beauty and the Beast until about 5 years ago, when I bought it on DVD. I was amazed at the colors, and I finally was able to see the Beast (Adam) in full color during his transformation. I loved Adam. When the live action remake came out a few years ago, I'm sad to say that I was a bit disappointed. The original will always be my favorite.
When you see this trope in romance novels, there are usually many ways to show it without being obvious. The hero/heroine may not be physically deformed, but their personality is horrendous. Maybe they are physically deformed, but a transformation doesn't actually occur; instead, their love interest sees their beauty within and so they are transformed in someone else's eyes. Others stick very true to the original trope - the hero is cursed with a hideous form, the heroine is drawn to his hidden home and becomes trapped there, and gradually they fall in love. Any of these versions are enjoyable, because they still stick to the same theme - beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Looking at this idea in real life, it's a shame that humans, in general, are very shallow. You may think you're not, but at some point in your life, you have probably judged someone based on how they looked. I experienced it all the time growing up, because I wore glasses and appeared very harmless. Bullies would target me, because they assumed I wouldn't fight back. And when I did defend myself (verbally, I never actually hit anyone), they were shocked. How could this nerdy girl actually have the cojones to stand up to them? As in school, dating often follows this same pattern. How a person looks defines how you treat them. Have you ever been on a dating app and thought, "He (or she) is way out of my league. They are so gorgeous"? Who defines that league you're talking about? You? They could be gorgeous, sure, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't want to go out with you. You're judging them before you've even spoken to them.
So, time to highlight some of my favorite Beauty and the Beast trope books...
This Is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland
In my opinion, Lynn Kurland is one of the most underrated romance authors I have ever read. Most people I have talked to about her have never heard of her, which is so confusing. She writes mainly historical and time travel romance, as well as several fantasy series. This Is All I Ask is a historical romance of an angry blind lord hidden away from the world and an abused young woman who is given to him in marriage. Neither expects kindness from the other, but they each find love in each other's arms. It's beautiful, one that I can re-read over and over again.
Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward
A dark and haunting paranormal romance, J.R. Ward created a heart-wrenching and unforgiving love in this book. The hero is literally scarred after a traumatizing childhood full of all types of abuse, and the heroine meets him and recognizes him as her mate. It takes a lot of convincing on her part to get him to open up to her, and they go through a lot to finally get their HEA. While this book is going to be triggering for some of you, it's absolutely a must-read. Teaches you so much about healing and finding yourself in the eyes of others.
My Darling Duke by Stacy Reid
This was a bit of a dark comedic romance, and I loved it every step of the way! Stacy Reid wrote two characters who were perfect for each other. The hero was scarred in a fire ten years ago and doesn't go out in public, but the heroine draws him out by pretending they are engaged. When they meet, it's wonderful, because rather than judging each other for their faults, they find a sense of camaraderie and love in each other's company. It's magical to see them both blossom throughout the story. This story is full of emotion, so be prepared.
Heart of the Fae by Emma Hamm
I recently discovered this author, and I have to say each of her books is a gem that you need to check out. This book was my first by her, and it is a fantasy that follows a young woman trying to cure her family of a terrible illness. She finds herself on a secret island ruled by a cursed fae prince. Angry and bitter, he is cruel at first, and she wants little to do with him beyond what he can do to help her. However, as they grow closer, she begins to fall in love with him and he with her. But their love is doomed from the start....or is it? Their story is continued in a second book, so you'll just have to read both to find out.
That's all my recommendations for today! As you can see, I tend to like the trope when it is more literal, but there are many, many books to check out that are not. Highly recommend starting with these though, and then you can find many more along your reading journey.