The Beau and the Belle
by R.S. Grey
Published February 1, 2018
Source: I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. This in no way affected my review.
Beau Fortier starred in most of my cringe-worthy teenage fantasies. I met him when I was a junior in high school, a time that revolved exclusively around bad hair, failed forays into flirting, and scientific inquiries into which brand of toilet paper worked best for stuffing bras. That is, until Beau moved into the small guest house just beyond my bedroom window.
A 24-year-old law student at Tulane, Beau was as mysterious to me as second base (both in baseball and in the bedroom). He was older. Intimidating. Hot. Boys my age had chicken legs and chubby cheeks. Beau had calloused hands and a jaw cut from steel. Our interactions were scarce—mostly involving slight stalking on my end—and yet deep down, I desperately hoped he saw me as more of a potential lover than a lovesick loser.
Turns out, I was fooling myself. My fragile ego learned that lesson the hard way. Now, ten years later, we’re both back in New Orleans, and guess who suddenly can’t take his eyes off little ol’ me. My old friend, Mr. Fortier. But things have changed. I’m older now—poised and confident. My ego wears a bulletproof vest. The butterflies that once filled my stomach have all perished. When I was a teenager, Beau warned me to guard my heart. Let’s hope he knows how to guard his.
R.S. Grey, just take my money and continue to hand over these fantastic books! I don’t know how you manage to write such compelling romances and put them out every few months, but please continue to do so.
THE BEAU AND THE BELLE was a compulsively readable rom-com that I devoured on a grey Saturday afternoon. The dreary Austin weather had nothing on me – I was whisked away to the French Quarter of New Orleans, enjoying king cake and hurricanes (of the beverage variety) while two quirky and interesting characters fell in love over a span of a decade.
The story begins in the past, and then later loops back around to the present. It starts in 1997 and Lauren is a self-conscious 17 year old who is unsure of herself, inexperienced in love, and crushing on the most popular boy in school. She’s the daughter of New Orleans socialites and lives in a Garden District mansion. It was so fun to see certain aspects of late-90s life depicted because it brought back so many memories and gave the story an unexpected authenticity.
I could have been Lauren in those moments – meticulously planning my moment to log online to the minute my crush would be there. Watching my buddy list to stare at his username and will the universe to let him message me. The message would obviously say “what’s up” (spelled crazy somehow) and I would respond “nm u” and he would be doing “nm” either. Love would ensue and my young heart would explode.
It was so funny to see those exact thoughts run through Lauren’s head, because it really was the perfect depiction of being a teenager at that point in time. I really enjoyed reading these bits of nostalgia.
Lauren develops a huge crush on Beau but it can’t be realized because she’s in high school and he’s in his 20’s. Approximately 30% of the book is spent in the “past” portion, giving plenty of time for us to get to know Lauren and Beau and watch Lauren’s crush on him grow. This is important because their relationship later on never feels like insta-love even though it does develop pretty quickly.
After a major hurricane hits the city and forces Beau and Lauren apart, they don’t see each other for 10 years. Lauren moves to New England and stays through college, beginning her career in New York City. Beau is transferred to UT Austin after his school closes, and he then creates a venture capital firm that becomes very successful. Ten years later, in the present day, both Lauren and Beau are back in Louisiana and Lauren is no longer unattainable.
Although as a reader you expect them to fall for each other right away, there is a lot of back and forth, will-they-won’t-they that is well-written and never feels forced. Reading the novel I felt like there were real stakes at play for each of them, making it that much more satisfying when they finally got together. I really enjoyed seeing them fall for each other and realize that the chemistry they had 10 years ago is still there. Beau is a kind, hard-working hero who loves his mother and is a good person in general. I rooted for him and Lauren through and through, and it absolutely paid off.
I adored the New Orleans setting as it is one of my favorite cities. Most of the story takes place during Carnival season (the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras) and I loved all of the New Orleans culture that was weaved through the story.
This may be my favorite of R.S. Grey’s books so far. While not quite as steamy as some of her other books, the great story line was more than enough to make up for it. It’s such an affordable e-book that it’s really a must read for anyone who loves contemporary romance. 5 stars!