The Beautiful Ones

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Nov 2017

Member Reviews

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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Antonia is staying with her cousin and his wife in Loisail upon her first season in society, when she meets Hector, the telekinetic performer. She soon falls head over heels in love with him without realising that Hector is still pining for a lost love.


I really enjoyed the historical French setting with fantasy elements. It is by no means historical fantasy, however, and would be more accurately characterised as a historical romance with some magical realism. I must admit that I would have liked a bit more attention paid to Hector and Antonia's shared telekinisis abilities. As it stands, its main role in the story was to bring the pair closer together as Hector trains her on developing her talent; as a woman, her magical abilities are seen as unseemly and so Antonia spent her early years shunned and gossiped about by many of her country neighbours. I was absolutely charmed by Moreno-Garcia's world-building: she brings a deft hand to bringing Loisail to life.

Several reviewers have compared this novel to Jane Austen due to its slow burn romance with etiquette, parties and a single man in possession of a good fortune (who must be in want of a wife)... I would disagree with this comparison purely as I think there is an entirely different feel to the world and the writing style. While Moreno-Garcia has crafted a great character study with romantic overtones, I would posit that it is closer to Edith Wharton, (a more serious) Georgette Heyer and the like. In this way, I feel like many of the reviews and talk surrounding this book are not really reflective of The Beautiful Ones. I came to the end of this book feeling that it was a bit of a misnomer, from what I had read to the very title itself.

What I would want prospective readers to know most is that it is a compelling character study with three main characters that you will grow attached to and frustrated with in equal measure. Hector's heartache is relatable as he struggles with letting go and this is in excellent contrast to Valerie's bitterness and jealousy about her lost future and her regretful present. Indeed, while Valerie is certainly not the most likeable character of the lot, I really did grow to love her and she became my favourite character to follow. It is a slow-paced, sedate novel and this understated narrative is perfectly matched by the often melodramatic episodes within. I highly recommend.
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A very beautifully written book, heavy on the character analysis and descriptions, and at times light on action. The author is very skilled at her craft
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This was an intriguing story. I'm not one to pick up a book that is Fantasy. I prefer straight romances and literary. Yet, I do enjoy Magical Realism from the great Latino writers and this would fall under that to some degree. One of the difficulties I had in finishing this book was the very slow start. There was a lot of narrative, but not enough of a gripping plot that would keep me turning pages--until the love triangle was developed about a third of the way in. Once the love, betrayal, and love came into play, I was hooked. But there was still parts in between that dragged on. Also, I'm not a lover of historical romances, but since this was set in France, I was hooked. I love France. Never been, but any story with French people, names, and places, I'm in. This was also well written. The author has a way of setting the scene. The conclusion was satisfactory--everyone getting what they wanted and those not deserving getting their just desserts. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this novel.
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The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is such an interesting book.  It is difficult to put a genre label on it.  It reads like historical fiction, yet there is also an element of magic.  Whatever you want to label it, it works.  

This the story of Nina Beaulieu.  She is staying with her cold-hearted cousin Valerie Beaulieu in the city of Loisail.  She is there for her first Grand Season.   It is during the Grand Season where she will come out in society, attend balls and learn the fine art of mingling and being a society lady.  The only problem is that Nina is not a society lady.  She has a special telekinetic power.  Unfortunately this is not something that ladies do.  It is frowned upon in society and she is encouraged to hide it.  Also, rather than being a social butterfly, she collects butterflies.  She loves the science of bugs and insects. 

Her cousin, Valerie has the impossible task of turning Nina into a grand lady of society.  To make matters worse, Valerie, who is not a pleasant person at all, doesn’t like Nina.  She goes out of her way to make Nina fail. 

Then Nina meets Hector.  A gentleman who shares her telekinetic powers.  He teaches her how to control her powers and she falls in love with him.   But things do not go as hoped.  

I really enjoyed this novel, it was just what I was in the mood for at the time.  A bit of a fantasy with a love story thrown in and beautiful writing. 

I received an ARC of this book.
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