“There's something sweet and almost kind but he was mean and he was coarse and unrefined and now he's dear and so unsure, wonder why I didn't see it there before. New and a bit alarming. Who'd have ever thought that this could be? True that he's no Prince Charming, but there's something in him that I simply didn't see.” ~ Disney - (Something There) Beauty and the Beast
When Dr. Robert “Belle” Belleterre, of 'Beauty, Inc.' by Tara Lain, meets Magnus Strong, he is not impressed. Magnus is everything Belle dislikes in a man: arrogant, controlling, entitled, and cold. The last thing Belle wants is to work for the man. Unfortunately, due to his father's carelessness, Belle is forced to do exactly that.
In order for his father to keep his company, Belle has an obligation to work for Magnus, but he's determined to do as little as possible. Belle is not sure what Magnus's motives are, but he's convinced they are nefarious. However, Belle is surprised when he is given a beautiful luxury apartment, a driver, his own office, and, most amazing of all, complete access to all projects at the company. Even with all of this, Belle can't help but be suspicious. It just doesn't make sense for Magnus to be so considerate. Despite himself, Belle gets involved in projects at Beauty, Inc. and finds he's enjoying himself, especially when introduced to Magnus's many philanthropic programs. Belle never expected Magnus to be so considerate and sensitive; it throws him for a loop. As Belle discovers more about the man, he starts to question whether his first impression of Magnus was correct.
Belle's new life at Beauty, Inc. is a far cry from the cold atmosphere Belle grew up in where his father and brothers basically ignored or took him for granted, that is, until they had a problem and needed him to fix it. In New York, Belle has great neighbors and friends who truly care about him, a company in which he can thrive, and Magnus, whom Belle is not only attracted to, but whom Belle realizes is definitely not the man he thought he was. Belle begins to see beyond Magnus's scarred face and into his heart. Belle thinks of him as handsome rather than ugly and never wants him to change a thing. Now, all Belle has to do is convince Magnus.
Tara has taken a well-known Disney story and retold it with a modern twist. It's just as delightful as the animated 'Beauty and the Beast' if not more so. Magnus Strong is a magnificent Beast, ferocious outside and a heart of gold inside. Tara’s Belle is definitely a departure from Disney’s Belle, but just as beautiful inside and out, and a lot more 'naughty'. Belle didn't give up on Magnus no matter how difficult he became, just as Disney’s Belle did with a similar outcome. The Beast was not a beast at all. Magnus, like Beast, was a tortured soul, caught in the past and doomed to stay there until someone could see his real heart. If you like fairy tales, life lessons, overcoming misconceptions, sleazy villains, good friends, and a happy ending, you may enjoy this tale. Thank you, Tara, for bringing one of my favorite animated stories to life.