The Beautiful Ones

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Nov 2017

Member Reviews

The Beautiful ones is essentially a historical romance set in the early 20th century in Europe with a little bit of the fantastical thrown in to keep things interesting. The fantastical element is that both of the main characters have telekinetic abilities. That ability is used by men to produce shows for the public but displays by women are frowned on. I really liked the characters and felt that the author did a good job bringing them to life. I also enjoyed the detailed settings portrayed throughout the novel. On the other side though the book was a little to slow paced for me. I liked the love story but things advanced to slowly and I found myself losing interest. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical romances with a bit of fantasy mixed in.
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The description of this book doesn't really give it credit. It reminds me a little of Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal. But more traditionally regency. The telekinesis is a backdrop rather than front and center. Allowing the complicated relationships to take the fore. 
It had just enough tension to keep it interesting, but not so much that I wanted to throw it against the wall.
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‘It was perhaps impossible to love in the same manner again, and he thanked the heavens for this mercy.’ 

The first 60% of this I really struggled through but once I got into the second half it gets much much better. Which is why I found this book so hard to rate. If I was only rating the first half I’d give this book 2 stars⭐️⭐️ however if I was rating the second half I would have given it 4 stars⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. So I’ve gone in the middle and given it ⭐️⭐️⭐️. 

I loved Nina and Hector’s characters and I absolutely despised Valerie. She seemed to want everything even though she wasn’t willing to follow her heart rather than her purse and greed for money and name, when she was younger and in her own grand season. 

I loved the chemistry between Nina and Hector. I can’t imagine living in a time where arranged marriages and duels were a normal everyday thing. Once the book got to the second half I really really enjoyed it. I also loved Etienne and in a way Luc. Even if he let Valerie goad and manipulate him into doing something he wouldn’t normally do.
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I was expecting a stronger fantasy element than what this book had. It was fine as a historical romance, and the light fantasy elements were nicely done. I was strongly reminded of Jane Austen's work. If Austen had attempted to write a fantasy novel, I'm fairly sure that something like this would be the result.

This is not to say that I did not enjoy the book. I did. I'm a fan of character-driven,  slow-burn tales when I have the time to really savor them. That is what this book demands of the reader. Unfortunately, I wasn't often able to give this book the kind of attention that it required, and it took a while to finish.
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Thank you to Netgalley, Thomas Dunne Books and Silvia Moreno-Garcia for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

If you are in the mood for a love story that takes its time to unfold, characters who dance before your eyes, the evil, the innocent and the lost souls, magicians and those with magical powers and ahhh the power of love, then read this book!

Imagine France, during the Belle Epoque. Grand balls, beautiful gowns, debutantes and their suitors set the stage for this love story. Antonina (Nina for short) is not your typical debutante dreaming of fancy dresses, jewels, gossiping with her girlfriends or waiting to fall in love with a handsome beau. She doesn’t care about learning how to needlepoint and rejects the rules of society that dictate how a young girl how she should behave. She loves to explore the outdoors, want to learn about science and oh yes, there is this small matter of her magical powers that she has not yet learned to control. In her small town, Nina’s reputation for being odd has already spread, damaging her chances for a good marriage. So, Nina is sent to Loisail to live with her cousin Gaetan and his wife Valerie, where she might have better luck.

Hector is a magician whose talents are unparalleled. His shows are sold out to packed houses, with audiences marvelling at his abilities. Hector and Nina meet and Nina convinces Hector to teach her how to control her telekinesis. Of course Nina falls for Hector but Hector is keeping a secret. The only reason he returned to Loisail was to see Valerie. Valerie was Hector’s first love and she broke his heart. Although Valerie’s beauty is unparalleled, the years haven’t been kind to her. She is a hard bitter woman whom no one or nothing can please.  Valerie will do everything in her power to destroy the romance between Hector and NIna, refusing to let him go and love another. Can Hector move on from Valerie? Will Nina still love him after she learns the truth? 

This is not a book that you race through, quickly turning page after page to see what happens next. This a novel to be savoured. The way Garcia writes you don’t want to rush, you want to experience it all including the setting and the complex characters. Valerie is deliciously evil and Nina is not a sickly-sweet, helpless character in contrast, but richly drawn in her own right. You feel for Hector because his love for Valerie is pure and he gave of himself fully but he was left broken for so many years. 

I enjoyed this novel immensely and found myself wanting to go back in time to drop in and visit  with these characters and spend more time in this world that Garcia created.
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First things first. I am thankful for the review copy that I got, and the cover is absolutely gorgeous.
The story: It was more focused on the characters, then deepening the story. Although, I did not hate this fact. The characters were intriguing and well-written, I could totally love them in the end. The book sometimes felt a little bit dragging, but it was not so bad. Definitely not a fast-paced story, so do not expect one. It is set in a historical world. If you love these kind of books, you will also love this one. It is worth to buy it.
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I don't generally like romance novels. I find the adherence to tropes tiresome, rather than absorbing. I prefer romantic subplots, emotional nuances filling out and adding context to some other matter.

...but I liked this one, in the end. Like Hector and Nina, it took a while to win me over - I spent much of the first half frustrated by my dislike of Hector and Valerie to enjoy it - but I have consumed the second half in an afternoon, twisting and yelling and ultimately wiping a little tear from my eye.

It's melodramatic, it's theatrical, but it's rather satisfying. Nina is the jewel here, easy to like from the start and impossible not to love by the end. I have a deeper regard for Silvia Moreno-Garcia's writing and her versatility with each thing I read. She hasn't convinced me to embrace romance as a genre, but I'll follow her into whatever worlds she chooses to explore.
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Oh goodness this book….

Okay, right off the bat I wasn’t crazy about his one. The blurb promised me telekinesis and I expected this big paranormal world with hidden superpowers or something. Instead, I got a Victorian romance.

Once I got over the disappointment that the telekinesis was really just used as a plot devise, (both the hero and heroine have this power), I really got involved with the story and the characters.

Let me warn you, right off the bat, that the main characters are not instantly likable.

Hector begins courting Nina just to be close to Valerie. He and Valerie, a decade before, had shared a whirlwind romance complete with a secret engagement. An engagement that she ended when she married another man—Nina’s cousin. Though he did things for the wrong reasons, it was easy to like and forgive Hector.

Nina is a so naïve at times it’s hard to root for her, but she grows so much as a character in this book.

And Valerie… well, to put it nicely, she is a selfish brat for 99.9% of this book. She has her reasons, but those reasons never justified all the wicked things she did in this reader’s opinion. She was an excellent villain.

This book is told in third person POV from all 3 of the aforementioned characters. Getting into each of their heads was really crucial to the execution of this story. Without each of their internal thoughts there’s no way a reader could feel anything except hatred, or at least annoyance, with them.

The story is also told in two parts and lasts the course of an entire year. When I reached the end of part 1 I was heartbroken. I was flipping pages like mad trying to get through part 2 to see the happy ending I wanted.

And in the end, the telekinesis played an important role in the story. It wasn’t just there to add something new and different. It actually was important to the plot.

So, should you read it? If you enjoy historical romances of epic proportions and are looking for something new and different…. and if you’re the kind of person who loves to see characters redeem themselves and get what’s coming to them, read this book. (There’s also a good old fashioned duel. No joke. It’s great!)
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Many thanks go to Silvia Moreno-Garcia, St. Martin Press, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. The Beautiful Ones have the money, the class, the position in society. Valerie is one; Nina should be if she weren't such a country bumpkin; Hector not so much but he may have enough money made from his telekinesis act to fit in. But Hector loves Valerie and Nina loves Hector. SOAP OPERA! This was one long soap opera. I felt like I was watching tv. I so wanted Valerie to get her comeuppance through the whole thing. She's just hateful. And I kept yelling at Hector to get his head on straight. I suppose it's a good sign when a book sparks such strong reactions. The psychokinesis tricks were just an added bonus to give two of the characters a connection or an easy, quick way to relate. It could have been anything, but at least this way it was original. I was pleased, so, so pleased with outcome. I wouldn't have wanted it to end any other way. Great storytelling!
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Creepy and haunting, a very engrossing read. Would recommend for mid-teens and up.
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My Highly Caffeinated Thought: A beautifully written story with heart, deception, and a bit of magic.

THE BEAUTIFUL ONES is one part historical fiction, one part romance, and one part fantasy. I have to admit, I didn't really know what I would get with this book. There were so many elements that didn't seem as if they would work together. Yet...they did.

By having a story centered around a cast of characters that were such a mixed bag of personalities and inclinations, the author was able to intricately develop the narrative. There is a web of lies, love, and history between all those that grace the pages of this book. It took all the fun and juicy parts of a soap opera and elevated to something that became so much more.

Moreno-Garcia truly produced a rare gem with this book. It is most definitely worth a read.
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i really, really enjoyed this book. i thought the plot was interesting, the characters were unique and complex and their relationships intriguing.
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The writing is impressive but I couldn’t connect to the characters a lot. Also, the fantasy elements are very light in the book, overshadowed by the romance which was too much of a slow burn. But overall, it’s an entertaining read.
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For no good reason at all it has taken me far too long to get around to reading this. Thoughly enjoyable and very well written. Thank you!
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The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a tale of love lost and love found. A tale of the power of emotion and the strength of conviction. For those, like myself, who have recently read her stirring novel of vampires in Mexico (Certain Dark Things), this novel will serve as a testament to the author's prowess of storytelling and prose.

"...It's no matter,' he replied, closing the book with his hands rather than with his mind; he reserved displays of his talent for the stage. He did not add anything else. He was hardly in the mood for polite conversation. The De Villiers prided themselves on attracting the cream of the crop to their functions - the Beautiful Ones, rather than the New People. The barons of barely minted empires of telegraph wires and fresh steel could socialize elsewhere. Hector had been offered an invitation, proof of Etienne's charm and connections, but he knew he was, at best, a novelty for these aristocrats; at worst, an intruder..."

Antonina Beaulieu is a young woman who has left the countryside to enjoy her first Grand Season in the city of Loisail. It is here, under the watchful eye and guidance of her cousin's wife, Valerie, that she hopes to find a respectable husband. But Valerie has a past of her own and soon the two will collide.

"...Valerie went to the door, her hand resting upon the handle when she heard Antonina speak.
'You said he loved you and always had.' Antonina said in a low voice. 'And do you love him?'
'That doesn't matter,'
'It matters to me.'
Valerie sighed and turned her head. In ruins, still the girl tried to clasp a shred of tender feeling to her heart. It was not to be had. 
'Dear, dear Antonina. Don't be silly. The point is he's never loved you. And he never will..."

Antonina meets the performer Hector Auvray and shares an immediate connection. They both possess kinetic powers, but while Hector uses his to perform and make his fortune, Antonina's abilities have only brought her ridicule and shame. She hopes to learn from Hector how to control her powers. But what she had not counted on was falling in love. Only the affection Hector shows Antonina is riddled with secrets and the memory of a love long ago lost.

The Beautiful Ones is a novel as haunting as it is tragic. Here the characters use love as a weapon in which they can cause one another pain. But in the end, it becomes a delicate treasure they are willing to sacrifice everything for. 

Antonina is engaging and though her innocence brings her to near ruin, it is one of her endearing qualities. She will never fit in with proper society and her inner battle to be more than a freak is heart wrenching to watch. 

Hector is at first repulsive as a love sick puppy willing to hurt anyone to get to the woman he loves and then afterwards, as a man who realizes the fool he has been. Then heroic as the man who attempts to save Antonina from a miserable life. Only to be saved by her as well.

But the show stealer her is without a doubt; Valerie. The once true love of Hector who uses his love for her to control everyone around her. Her actions and cruelty keep you from feeling any sense of pity for her being forced into an arranged marriage that made both her and her family rich. She is the evil and horrible woman that you would want to see get her comeuppance but not too soon because she is just too much fun to watch.

A fun and good read that I would put on par with anything on the market today.
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It's been a year of beautifully written books that just don't work for me, and The Beautiful Ones is another on the list. Now I was pretty excited about reading a fantasy romance. It's not a genre combo I get often (sure, the fantasies I read have romances but not enough to make them romance novels) and I wanted to see all the magic and love and tension that comes from such things.

Unfortunately this was more of the slow burn, "let's make the reader wait a LONG time for something to happen," kind of books. A bummer, really, because the world is beautiful. I mean, I would love to read a fantasy, no romance needed, in this world. Moreno-Garcia draws on the historical elements of a Season with bits of magic here and there. I think I expected more fantasy than there was, not realizing that this is a romance novel, truly. Not a bad thing, but it meant my expectations altered my reading experience.

Now, that said, I had a bit of a problem with the characters and that romance element. The story follows 3 protagonists and I didn't really connect with any of them. Not poorly written or anything, but just not working for me. The slow pace left me wanting something more to really get behind these characters and I simply never got that.

I honestly don't have much more to say about The Beautiful Ones. It had the potential to hook me but the constant waiting for the plot to move forward, the general drawn-out writing style, and overall flow made it hard to push through to the end. I nearly DNFed it several times because I was bored. If you're a fan of the wait, the slow build to something great, then I think this book is perfect for you. For me, it just wasn't working.
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This novel is reminiscent of a sinister Jane Austen work, set several decades later in La Belle Époque, or The Beautiful Era. This brief period of France’s history, from 1871 to 1914, is said to be the last hurrah of the societal elite.

After this time, technology and industry began to advance at speed. The lower classes began to question the status quo of upper class rule. The playing field began to level out, and the influence of the elites began to dwindle. Trapped in their traditions, they ignored the changes in society, instead choosing to bury themselves in elaborate restrictions to differentiate themselves from lower classes.

The Beautiful Ones is set during this last hurrah and the rigors of the society are keenly drawn. Antonina is an ingénue, and not familiar with the rules of the Loisail’s Grand Season. She quickly discovers proper ladies do not have powers, or go to great lengths to hide them. When she meets Hector and sees his firm control of his powers, she asks to be tutored, soon falling in love with the magician.

But even Hector’s newly found wealth doesn’t exempt him from scorn. He is “new money” and looked down upon by Nina’s family and society at large. And he has secrets of his own, that will destroy Nina’s innocence and hope for a future with him.

Nina is a sympathetic character and thankfully, doesn’t fall into the simpering victim category. Society itself is a character, with all the strength of a well-crafted villain. Character progression (or regression in on particular case) pulls the reader along, deeper into the mystique of this world, showing that even with manners, dirty deeds can be accomplished with ease. Deception is hidden behind smiles and promises, as it seems everyone has a say in what Nina’s life should be.

Except Nina.

Moreno-Garcia brings deceit, and first love with a touch of magic power to create a historical romance with power and redemption.
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I'm a fan of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's work--only partly because no two books are the same. I wasn't sure what to expect from this novel on the whole, but I knew that I would find solid writing. This delivered.

I don't consider myself a romance reader, so my knowledge of genre standards, etc. is a bit lacking (so, if you are, I might make you mad by mixing up some things about the genre in general in this review). That said, here's what I can say about THE BEAUTIFUL ONES...

The first 100 pages felt very slow. I really wanted something more to happen--my previous experience with the author's work definitely colored that expectation, but I did my best to focus just on this work and what was going on. When the first major event (by my feeling) unravels just around the 100th page, I felt a LOT of emotions I didn't expect. That's when I realized all the work that was actually laid out in that 100 pages, so expertly. Where I thought I didn't care about the main character, I discovered I had very much--and very subtly--connected to her through the events building to that moment.

I would describe this book as a Regency Romance and mean it in both the sense of the romance novels that rose up in the 1960s that took place during the Regency era with all those cultural touchstones of high society courtship, etc. AND with Jane Austen's work in the sense of it being a 'novel of manners' and a slower pacing.

For a touch of the 'weird', there is a little bit of telekines in this world. I particularly enjoyed the way it was woven into the story as just another fact of the world, just like the ebb and flow of social seasons and social standing. I could very much have enjoyed more exploration of what that's like in this setting, but understood how there wasn't room for it in this particular story.

If you like Austen & Bronte and are looking for a slower paced romance that doesn't start replacing story with sex scenes once the love interests get together... I heartily recommend THE BEAUTIFUL ONES.
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Almost Austenesque in writing. I enjoyed the contradiction between "regency-esque" society and magical manipulation. Really glad that there was a happy ending of sorts.
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