The Beautiful Ones

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Nov 2017

Member Reviews

The Beautiful Ones experience can best be translated as author Moreno-Garcia channeling Edith Warton while taking liberally from Dangerous Liasons and Wuthering Heights, and then adding mystical realism randomly.  Sadly, it just didn't work and I have to admit it often felt lazy to cherry pick history into an anachronistic mess of a romance AND then add magic on top of it.

Story:  Nina is a free spirit in a constricted society.  When she falls for telekinetic showman Hector, she doesn't know he has a secret history with her haughty and beautiful sister in law, Valerie.  The three will dance around each other and society as Hector makes moves on impressionable Nina in order to get closer to his former love, Valerie.  But Valerie gave up poor Hector in order to marry a wealthy man of high standing - a man she finds boring and despises secretly. While Nina grapples with having telekinetic powers in a society that frowns upon women having them she also innocently believes Hector returns her affections.

I hate to say this is a romance because it really isn't.  Rather, we have a story of a high society and those moving around in it trying to maneuver to attain their own goals and greed.  We're supposed to like Nina and cheer for her as she falls for Hector - and hope Hector comes to his senses and sees the true treasure is Nina and not the vain and manipulative Valerie.  But honestly, Nina felt TSTL (too stupid to live) and Valerie was almost a cliche bully.  This was high school with Valerie the mean cheerleader, Nina the ingenue, Valerie's husband the quarterback, and Hector the rising star.  Add in the mean girls and the backstabbing, jocks being manly and stupid, and innocents getting trampled in the process.  Except mannered in the belle epoque style.

What it all came down to is that the 'magic'/urban fantasy/magical realism was random, underused, and superfluous.  That's not necessarily a bad thing in magical realism (really the point, actually) but magical realism needed that second word - realism - in there.  And The Beautiful Ones had none of that.  This was cobbled together ideas from well known society novels from the turn of the century and then telekinesis was added because - why?  The Beautiful Ones might have worked had the author stuck to one historical milieu and been true to it other than the hint of paranormal.  But to create (and I use that word liberally since this novel 'borrows' from too many societies) a world and then not even make it distinct feels lazy.

If you enjoy a Warton novel, I think you will enjoy this.  It's a slow burn romance and play of wills.  If you are looking for the typical YA adventure and romance, I can't help but feel you will be disappointed by this well trod game of selfish men and conniving women.  Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
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The Beautiful Ones is a fantasy of manners in what I think of as two acts, following a set of characters over the course of two consecutive Grand Seasons in the fictional city of Loisail. There is a bit of magic, but since it's primarily used to highlight the characters' personal struggles, it may help to think of this more as you might a book set in a non-magical, historically based fictional world (in this case, the inspiration is the Belle Époque). It's almost entirely high society romance fluff, but I couldn't put it down until it was over, so there's that.

Act one sets up a tightly constructed love triangle between the three central characters of the book:

Hector Auvray is an acclaimed telekinetic performer, recently returned to his country of extraction after years abroad. He comes from a lower-class background, but has earned considerable wealth and status. Years ago, he was engaged to be married to...

...Valérie Beaulieu, a lady from an aristocratic family fallen on hard times. At a young and impressionable age, with the weight of her family's future on her shoulders, she broke her secret engagement to Hector in order to marry for money. Since then, she has become a dominant figure in fashionable circles, into which she has been charged with introducing...

...Antonina (Nina) Beaulieu, a young cousin of her husband's, sent to Loisail from the family estate in the country with hopes that she will find a husband. Nina is gauche, but genuine, an amateur entomology enthusiast, and also a telekinetic with very little control over her unladylike powers.

Valérie is over-controlling of Nina, whom she resents being saddled with and sees as a country bumpkin unworthy of the good fortune of her circumstances. But when Nina meets Hector, a fellow telekinetic, she hopes she has found a kindred spirit. Hector, on the other hand, begins formally "courting" Nina with the vague and obviously ill-considered notion of propelling himself back into Valérie's orbit. Predictably, Nina falls for Hector, who somehow failed to see this coming, blinded by his years-long obsession with proving himself to Valérie. To sum it up, the first half of the story is a clear recipe for disaster and hurt all around.

Of act two, I can obviously say little except that a second courtship triangle forms with slightly different component parts from the first, and the central characters are all pressed to reveal either their best or their worst selves. Nina's growth as a character from the first half to the second is particularly lovely.

This is a book for readers who enjoy stories of complicated courtships in historical trappings. It is not a book for people who are fundamentally averse to the use of love triangles, though these are of the complicated courtship variety and not the "teen angst" sort. There's nothing earth-shattering here... no political intrigue or world-changing events. Just people making a mess of things and then having to deal with them. I found it to be wonderfully escapist.
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3.5 stars 

There was something about this book cover that reminded me of Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series. I kind of thought that I was going to read a steampunk-esque romance with a little paranormal thrown in.

But considering that I have not actually read the Finishing School series, I think I can safely say that I had no idea what this book was going to be about other than maybe something YA with magic.

In a world of etiquette and polite masks, no one is who they seem to be.

Antonina Beaulieu is in the glittering city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she will attend balls and mingle among high society. Under the tutelage of the beautiful but cold Valérie Beaulieu, she hopes to find a suitable husband.

However, the haphazard manifestations of Nina’s telekinetic powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

Yet dazzling telekinetic performer and outsider Hector Auvray sees Nina’s powers as a gift, and he teaches her how to hone and control them. As they spend more and more time together, Nina falls in love and believes she’s found the great romance that she’s always dreamed of, but Hector’s courtship of Nina is deceptive (summary from Goodreads).

In many ways this novel was just what I expected….romance with some fantasy but interestingly enough I felt like it needed a lot more in the way of the supernatural to be considered a ‘fantasy novel’. However, this was first a romance novel with a little fantasy thrown in which I found oddly disappointing. I am not sure why but I just expected it to be the other way around and was kind of disappointed when it was more romance and flimsy fantasy at best.

That said I liked how the romance was more of a slow burn rather than in inferno. It was clear that the author went to great pains to make the romance evolve slowly so that readers could savor the ‘chase’ and ultimate outcome. I loved that. Although I would have liked to have seen more of the supernatural powers work within the romance as well. As is, I felt like this novel would have been just as good, if not better without the supernatural elements. They were so underused in the story that I often found myself wondering if they were even necessary at all.

I thought the author did a great job at writing a classic romance in the vein of Bronte or Austen. She was a very unique story telling style and I enjoyed watching the romance develop. This is not really a plot based book, it is more about the romance between the characters and less about anything monumental happening if that makes sense.

A note on the cover. The cover is absolutely stunning. I would have read this book simply for the beautiful cover design. Though it isn’t necessarily ‘unique’ as I mentioned, it looked just like the ones from The Finishing School series, however it is eye catching and has a decidedly romantic feel about it.

While slow at times, this book was a decent read. It was enjoyable enough to continue reading but at the same time I felt like a little refining within the story or more plot development would have helped it be a great novel. On the whole I gave it 3.5 stars because the romance was so reminiscent of the classics that I can’t fault how well it was done.

Book: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno Garcia 

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: October 24th 2017 by Thomas Dunne Books
ASIN B06Y15ZWX5
Review copy provided by: Publisher/Author in exchange for an honest review
This book counts toward: NA

Hosted by: NA
Books for Challenge Completed: NA
Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5

Genre: historical fiction, romance, fantasy, pararomance

Memorable lines/quotes:
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3.5-4 stars

This was a really fun bit of historical fiction with a bit of fantasy. The fantasy element is light--this takes place in a fictional world that is reminiscent of France during the Belle Epoch, and several characters have telekinetic abilities, but that's the extent of fantastical elements.

Really, this reads like a period romance. The first half was a bit slow, and I had some difficulty getting into it. However, by the time I got about halfway through I couldn't put this down! I found myself really invested in the romance. 

The main antagonist in this book is GREAT. While I didn't like her, Moreno-Garcia doesn't let you dismiss her. She's a very well-developed character, and as a reader you really understand why she does what she does.

I also really loved that this felt like a very feminist romance. Moreno-Garcia crafts female characters with depth and a WHOLE LOT of agency. In ways both overt and subtle she plays around with female roles in relationships throughout the book. 

Overall I really enjoyed this, and definitely recommend it!
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This is far more a romance than a paranormal novel. While there is a strand of strangeness woven within this tale of love, betrayal and deceit, it isn’t the engine that powers the story forward. What we have here is Hector, who is consumed by passion for a woman he had hoped to make his wife – the stunningly beautiful Valérie. Now established in society and made wealthy by his mastery of his telekinetic powers, Hector can visit Valérie… be in her presence… talk to her… so long as he appears to be courting her husband’s young niece, Nina.

I really enjoyed this one. Moreno-Garcia paints a vivid picture of the belle epoch, when the rich could have it all. Women have never been so beautifully attired, men had the freedom to buy it all – so long as they were rich. Further down the greasy pole, of course, life was a lot less glittering. I thoroughly enjoyed the story – and yet it isn’t one that I expected to like. Hector is behaving appallingly and the fact that I understood and accepted the situation without throwing my Kindle across the room or irritably deleting it, says a lot for the depth of the characterisation.

Nina, the charming, clumsy and intelligent girl with an unexpectedly strong sense of herself, again was very well drawn and while I was reading, she was the character I sympathised with. But since I finished this book and whenever I thought about it – it isn’t either of these two characters that I find myself pondering – it is Valérie. The beautiful, spiky woman who is dying inside by slow degrees because she has married a man for his money. Because she was forced to marry a man for his money. And while her husband is kindly and thoughtful, she simply doesn’t love him – indeed, his little habits and annoying penchant for actually consulting Nina about her wishes regarding her courtship, has Valérie grinding her teeth.

I generally don’t read romance stories, yet this one really held me as somehow Moreno-Garcia managed to depict all three of the main characters, warts and all, with a degree of compassion and understanding that gave me an insight into how they all ticked. It made a very enjoyable change from my usual fare at a time when I was struggling with flu and if you do enjoy a well-written, character-led romance, this one comes recommended. While I obtained the arc of The Beautiful Ones from the publisher via NetGalley, this has in no way influenced my unbiased review.
8/10
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I feel really conflicted about this book. I loved Moreno-Garcia's debut Signal To Noise, so I was excited to receive an advanced reader's copy of her latest novel. I wasn't 100% sure if this book was going to be for me, but I thought that the fantasy aspect in this novel would win me over. This book just wasn't what I was expecting. It wasn't bad, just the era that the book is written in and the fact that it is more a character-driven novel over a plot-driven novel was where I struggled with it. There are definitely readers that will LOVE this book because of the characters, but it took me a long time to read and get into this novel because it felt like nothing was really happening.

What drew me to this novel is "the talent" that Nina and Hector have. I love that it draws them together and gives them a strong bond. I just felt like this aspect of the story was kind of a footnote. I thought it was going to be the main purpose of the story, but it just seemed like it was apart of them and didn't really relate too much to the overall plot. It was like saying they were left-handed. It definitely explains some things about Nina's personality and why her cousin Gaetan protects her so much, but otherwise the crux of the story could have been the same without this included.

The characters in the novel are great, and it's probably a reason a lot of other readers will really enjoy this book. Nina is a very naive person in the first half of the novel, but she is young and she learns and matures later on. I really liked this development of her character. She was young and when you are a young girl sometimes you see things with your crush that might not be there. I'm still not completely sold on Hector. He really led Nina on in the first half of the book, but I do like that he redeems himself and realized what an awful thing he has done. I think it really humanized him. Everyone makes mistakes, and he comes to really overcome the reason for why he did what he did. I wasn't totally sold on their relationship, but in the end I was glad the characters end up where they do.

Now I am saving an entire paragraph to talk about the third person we get perspective from in this novel--Valérie! She is straight up the WORST!!

Props to the author for writing one of the most insufferable and hate-filled character I have ever read! I hated Valérie so much! At first I kind of understood why she was the way she was, but later on she just gets more hate-filled and sadistic that I just wanted to push her off a bridge. She was such a nasty woman, and I just couldn't understand how she could be just so straight up evil! I hated her, she sucked, but I am very satisfied with what happens to her character. I'm not spoiling this! You have to read it for yourself!

All in all this book was "okay" for me. I didn't absolutely love it, but by no means is a 3 1/2 star a bad rating. This book just didn't wow me. I think had I know that it was going to be a more character driven book I might not have requested it. I think if you love this type of regency-style romance with a hint of magical realism this is a book for you!
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Set in a world reminiscent of late 19th century Europe with inspiration from the pre-WWI “Golden Age” era of France, The Beautiful Ones introduces us to a tri of central characters. First is Hector Auvray, a telekinetic entertainer who has arrived back in the city of Loisail after spending nearly ten years traveling and performing abroad. Now rich and famous, he has returned to his home country hoping to meet up with his old flame Valérie Beaulieu, to whom he had been engaged when they were both young and penniless, but pressured by her family, she had ended up breaking his heart to marry someone else with wealth and status.

To Hector’s disappointment though, the emotional reunion he had planned for was spoiled when Valérie fails to show up to the high society ball he attends. Instead, he makes the acquaintance of another young woman at the gathering, the interesting but socially awkward Antonina who is in the city for her first Grand Season. It’s not until after the party that Hector learns, to his surprise, that Nina is the beloved cousin of Gaetan Beaulieu, the man Valérie ended up marrying. In fact, Nina is staying with the Beaulieus right now, tasked to learn the ropes of etiquette from Valérie, who is supposed to be helping the young girl find a suitable husband. But unfortunately for Nina, she also has telekinetic talents similar to Hector’s, which is considered inappropriate for a young lady of her stature. Along with her eccentric personality, they have a pesky way driving off potential suitors.

Yet Hector sees Nina’s powers as a gift—as well as an opportunity. Under the guise of courting her, Hector offers to teach Nina how to control her powers, when in reality he is hoping their relationship will help him get close to Valérie, convinced that she still loves him the way he still loves her.

I won’t lie, I wanted to throttle nearly everyone in this book, but in this they have something in common with characters in a soap opera—you just love to hate them. Likewise, I found it impossible to tear myself away from the drama, and I would even hazard to say I enjoyed The Beautiful Ones more than the author’s previous novel Certain Dark Things, despite this one being much slower paced and having none of the action. This is because Silvia Moreno-Garcia knows how to spin a good yarn, and more importantly, she knows what it takes to capture the reader’s attention. Rather than shy away from the usual conventions of the fantasy of manners genre, she instead revels in them, offering up a lavish feast of romantic melodrama, high societal punctilio, and weaponized etiquette. Within this context, the fantasy element almost feels like an afterthought, having little to no impact on the overall story.

Still, the novel came together very well. By taking such a huge departure from her previous work, Moreno-Garcia might have been risking a lot in writing something like The Beautiful Ones, but ultimately I thought it was a move that paid off. I practically hung onto every word, even though the plot played out exactly as I thought it would, with the requisite frustrations and misunderstandings between the characters. I’ve lost count of how many times I wanted to slap Hector silly or to shake some sense into Nina, and don’t even get me started on how much I absolutely loathed Valérie, but at no point was I not completely 100% invested in the outcome of their story.
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I was very curious to discover this novel when I heard about it but in the first reviews, several said that the story was not what they expected. It is true that if one expects a fantasy story, this is not the case here. I’d rather say it’s a historical romance with some distant paranormal elements and I really loved it!

We discover Nina, a young country girl who returns to town to make her first season in society. Nina is not a girl like the others and she even possesses some small powers of telekinesis that she does not necessarily control. But when she meets with Hector Auvray, a famous man in this field, she knows that she must get to know him. While she falls under his spell, she does not expect this man to have a hidden plan. Nina is chaperoned by Valerie, the wife of her cousin. And Hector and Valerie have a story together … Younger, they were supposed to get married and even though Hector knows that nothing is possible between them, he can not help but to court Nina to see her former dear and tender fiancé.

I really enjoyed this story full of ideas. Nina is really very touching with her innocence and freshness. She is far from the model of a young woman that the society of the time produced and she does not care about that. She does not want to be someone other than the person she is already and Hector seems the perfect man for her. I was quite sad for her … She does everything to please Auvray without realizing that despite his attention, he always seeks Valerie. I sometimes wanted to slap Hector so he could realize his actions but nevertheless he will evolve little by little, realizing all that.

It was a pretty lively romance that carried me through the whole story. Between Valerie and her plots, Nina and her kindness and Hector, this man lost in his past, I was caught up by the story, waiting impatiently for the end to know how everything would end.
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The book title and genre felt a little misleading. The title was referenced but not in any significant way and made it really confusing to the book's intentions.  And labeling it a paranormal romance is definitely a stretch. Yes it did have some telekinesis, but it felt more like a device to bond the characters like their shared disdain on societal rules.  It really isn't a huge issue, but just so you know what you're getting into it definitely has more of the feel of a historical romance. 
As for the plot, I appreciated the fact that it didn't follow the typical boy/girl romance novel story line. It was still a bit predictable but had enough changes to be a refreshing read. I didn't particularly love the main character Nina, there were many times I just cringed from her naivety and innocence (which I know are staples in the romance genre but these were portrayed as shallow and silly rather than an asset *cue rascal manning up to live up to girl's day dreams). However those qualities did highlight the contrast to Hector's love interest in Valerie, which added dimension to their love triangle dilemmas. 
The reason for a low rating was that I found the beginning half of the book very, very slow. The details became tedious and redundant, and I really had to push myself to read the last half. I wouldn't go as far as to say it was rewarding to finish it, but the ending was able to capture my attention a bit more and I thought the last details of the plot came together in a believable fashion. I usually like romance, and quick and easy reads every once in awhile, but I just really couldn't get into the flow of the book to be able to enjoy this one.
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In short, I loved it.
An alternate Victorianesque history featuring telekinesis, manners and romance may sound like an odd mix, but Garcia was able to blend them together into something truly magical and beautiful. Nina was a fabulous main character.  She was funny, quirky, a little naive and a hopeless romantic.  She was basically the oddball of high society, the country girl in fancy clothes who doesn’t know the manners of a proper young elite. 
Hector was also a very interesting characters. He was very chivalrous, but also incredibly stubborn and passionate. Both qualities leading him into trouble. Then there is Valerie, who wasn't my favourite character but I did love to hate her! 
Garcia beautifully explored the telekinetic powers in Hector and Nina and how it sets them apart, makes them the same and what it means for their future. 
The society that the characters live in is very posh. Very strict on what is in and what is out. If you don’t act classy, you are trash. If you say the wrong thing or are seen with the wrong person at the wrong time, labels spring up and you are ruined. Garcia explores what it is like to be different in this society.
 The romance in this novel shows the repercussions of falling in love young and quickly, the pain and struggle it can cause when things don’t go according to plan and the slow healing process of opening up to possibility again and letting it just flow. It was amazing and I absolutely adored this element!
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It may have been slightly predictable here and there, but all in all it was gorgeously written, wonderfully paced and with characters that are still roaming around in my head!
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The Beautiful Ones
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

This book was 'advertised' as a paranormal romance, which isn't quite exactly true in that the only paranormal bit was that a few people in this world have tele/psychokinesis.  Other than that, it is a drama of manners set in an imaginary country/world that could easily double for Regency England, complete with arranged marriages between poor title women being forced to marry men with money they do not love, leaving men that they are at least in lust with behind as the men seek their fortune.

Hector is the male who leaves to make his fortune using his psychokinetic ability to not only become fabulously wealthy but incredibly famous.  He returns to sweep the woman he left a decade ago off her feet, despite her marriage to a wealthy man, engineered by her greedy family to shore up their title.

When this proves impossible, he courts her niece, Nina instead.  Nina is the ingenue that we see in most romances, except she too has tele/psychokinesis.  He uses this to bond with her.

Everything goes to hell, when Hector's first love who happens to be the wife of Nina's cousin, interferes out of jealousy.

Fear not, Nina grows up and Hector catches a clue.  There is a HEA.

When I read a book based on regency Era manners and society, there is a piece of me that wants Jane Austen.  But Hector is no Mr. Darcy and Nina is certainly no Elizabeth Bennet.  However there is a certain beauty, in description and behaviors.  And a certain realism in everyone's reaction to each other's actions.

For fans of Regency drama who prefer the melodrama of Wuthering Heights to the fun of Pride and Prejudice or Northanger Abbey, this is definitely the book for you.  Also, it was fun having what is essentially all of Europe squished together into three of four countries.

The writing itself is good, fitting the period.  But the book is about 50-70 pages too long and there is a feeling of slogging through it.

This book is Book Nerd accepted.

3 out of 5

https://smile.amazon.com/Beautiful-Ones-Novel-Silvia-Moreno-Garcia/dp/1250099064/
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The Beautiful Ones surprised me with the smoothness of the text.  The writing style is so fluid and engaging.  Romance is not something I generally look for in a novel; I actually tend to shy away from it, not considering myself a 'romantic'.  However, this book was subtle and delicate with its blossoming romance in a way that I could relate to and enjoy.  I appreciated that the author didn't fall into the trap of writing more heavy, or erotic, scenes.  While reading, I kept thinking of how much it reminded me of William Makepeace Thackeray's, Vanity Fair but with magic! (which is a great compliment, as I love that novel)

The atmosphere is thick with 'old-world' upper-class traditions and excesses; easily transporting the reader to the streets and parties of Loisail!  The main characters were just quirky enough and full of vices, and some virtues, spewing forth with inner desires.  I enjoy how the story was told from the perspective of multiple characters as I felt it helped the story line to progress at a strong, steady pace.  I would definitely recommend this book to friends who enjoy stories with just the right amount of magical elements and plenty of beauty!  I would also definitely seek out other books by this author in the future.
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An amazing read, kinda fun and kinda frustrating at a character so blinded by previous infatuation. Very character driven story with beautiful descriptions. Because it's character driven, the story moves a bit slow. In fact, the development of characters happens a lot in description and no so much in deeds until further into the book. So, it isn't a surprise when the wicked cousin does/says something quite selfish and, well, wicked. 

The magic interweaves the story with a bit of tension that keeps the pages turning. Again, the pace is slow, but that is to help the reader really care about what happens to the characters and for wicked cousin Valerie's comeuppance. In some places it is a bit melodramatic, and other places the author flips points of view that is distracting in a lot of ways.

I personally dislike it when head jumping has no transitions. When you are in one character's POV and next page you are in a different character's POV can be very unsettling with no smooth transition. It's almost better the head hop within a scene because at least you have a point of reference.

I like the book. Don't have a desire to read it again as I do with Georgette Heyer's romances and Jane Austin's. So, it's just my opinion.

3 of 5 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley to St. Martin's Publishing for the book in exchange for my honest review.
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The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Pros: some interesting twists, great characters

Cons: somewhat predictable

Antonina Beaulieu is a rich 19 year old from the country, joining her cousin and his wife, Valerie, in the city of Loisail for the Grand Season. Quick to speak her mind and unable to remember proper city etiquette or the names of important society members, Nina also has telekinetic abilities, her poor control of which has caused her problems in the past. When she meets the telekinetic performer Hector Auvray at a party, they quickly grow closer and her dreams of a romantic marriage seem assured.

But Hector has a past with Valerie, the beautiful woman who criticizes Antonina’s failings at every turn. And his attentions towards Nina aren’t what they seem.

For the most part the book's plot follows the traditional category romance beats. Set in a fantasy world that mimics the late 1800s/early 1900s, it reminded me at times of Jane Austen’s Persuasion and at others of Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey.	

The characters were wonderful. I started off the book liking everyone, even people I probably wasn’t supposed to. Though I knew Hector’s initial interest in Nina wasn’t real, I still liked him and thought that having your heart broken by a ‘good’ guy is better than some alternatives. I even felt some pity for Valerie, forced to marry someone for money to help her family despite having met the love of her life. The personal motivations and actions of the characters felt honest and the fallout of their decisions, earned.

While telekinesis isn’t a major part of the story, it does come up fairly often and it’s great seeing Nina learn more control over her abilities.

I really enjoyed this.
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Antonina Beaulieu, called Nina, travels to the city of Loisail to stay with her wealthy cousin Gaetan Beaulieu and his wife Valérie, who leads her through her first Grand Season with an iron hand. Nina is a country girl from a wealthy family but lacks the sophistication Valérie insists upon, and her erratic telekinetic powers only make Valérie angrier. When Nina meets the celebrated entertainer, Hector Auvray, she finds a kindred spirit who shares the same odd talent. Hector courts her as a ploy to get close to Valérie, whom he still loves despite her breaking their engagement years ago.

This world of parties, balls, calling cards and formal manners reminded me of Edith Wharton’s novels, even more so when the cracks in polite society begin to show. Ms. Moreno-Garcia surrounds her characters with lavish surroundings, furnishings, clothes, and jewelry. She shows readers the minefield of Belle Epoque manners, where a walk in the park at the wrong hour can set tongues wagging for days. Valérie is a queen of society; a tastemaker envied by her peers, but her displays of wealth mask her inner world, just as Nina’s unsophisticated manners hide a great intelligence and a kind heart. This technique beautifully underscores the characters, the milieu, and the plot.

Then, there is the question of telekinesis. This one drop of the fantastic kept me guessing how it fit into the story as a whole, and I wondered if it was simply a bit of clever characterization. It’s introduced as something out-of-the-ordinary and certainly unusual, but not worthy of fear or derision. Unless, of course, you’re a woman. Hector has made a fine living as a showman, and while he doesn’t have a noble name, his wealth and fame buy him a place in Loisail society. Nina was born into wealth, but her talent is likened to childish temper tantrums and has earned her a bad reputation and reprimands. Hector agrees to tutor her to teach her to control it, and the flush of Nina’s first crush begins.

The romantic entanglements of the main characters revolve around social class and wealth—or the lack of it. There are moments where Nina realizes her experience is nothing like the starry-eyed novels she’s read, and I found those delightful. Fairy-tale romance is fiction, and in Loisail, brides are traded like commodities to maintain their family’s position or to save the pride of fine families driven into poverty. That tension between arranged marriages and true love is one of the driving forces that bring the novel to a satisfying conclusion.

My main complaint about the book is purely subjective. For the first half of the novel, the setting and the drama of manners was interesting, but moved slowly and was easy to put down after a chapter or two. However, the second part is more exciting, with new conflicts, conspiracies, and danger on the horizon. That was the spark I needed to forge a connection to the characters and take sides in the conflict. The slow escalation of tension and consequences was well worth the wait.
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When you think of a sci-fi or fantasy book you tend to think of quick paced action and obvious differences or powers in the world you're reading about. What Silvia Moreno Garcia gives you instead is a beautifully constructed realm that blends and bends reality so closely with telekinetic powers that you'd hardly notice if they were there or not. You come into her story feeling as though you've missed a previous book, but that serves you later on. The Beautiful Ones has a lot of subtext, a lot of the story is unsaid, but you pick up on things as you read. The romance aspect of this novel is entertaining though. At one point it feels like a quadrangle instead of your typical triangle, or perhaps a circle? The imagery is beautifully described, and the characters feel real and well developed; at times even causing the reader to feel sympathy for the devil. And while each even happens in a long succession from the one before it, each serves the purpose of the story. I'd love to see another book or two in this world, the slow boil method really works here.
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I think this was another case of “It’s not you, it’s me.” This book was beautifully written, the characters were well-developed and complex, and the plot was totally cohesive. But, I still didn’t love this as much as I wanted to. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it a lot. It just didn’t grab like I’d hoped.

One of the reasons for this is probably the romance. I knew going into this book that there was going to be a lot of romance. And I was in the mood for a nice little romance, so that was totally fine with me (I’m not often in the mood for romances, so I wanted to wait until I was ready). But I also thought there was going to be more magic to balance out the romance. There was a little bit of magic, and what was there was really cool. But magic had a very small part in this book. So between the reeealllyyy heavy romance, and the severe lack of magic, I was left feeling a little disappointed.

Also, the characters. I’ll admit, I really liked Nina a lot. She was by far, one of my favorites. But the rest? Eh, not so much. Hector grew on me and I ended up liking him by the end. Everyone else just kind of drove me crazy. Especially Valérie, who was just too much for my taste. But, I will say that everyone seemed to stay true to their development and I enjoyed learning the back stories for each character. Like I said, the development of the characters was so well done. I just didn’t care for the end result in some cases.

All that being said, I did like this book. The world created was so much fun and fascinating. I loved the mixture of magic and a sort of Victorian-England-inspired world. Anyone who’s a fan of those sweeping BBC romance shows (think Poldark, or Downton Abbey) could probably appreciate this book quite a bit. I might have had some issues with parts of it, but I’m still really glad I picked this book up.
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DNF at 23%.  Perhaps another time, another state of mind will prove better for this unusual book.  I loved the description, loved the alternative setting, but the mores of a slower, tedious time simply grated.  I don't want to read a book where I want to shake every single one of the characters; give me someone to like.  I had high hopes because of the telekinesis aspect, and the fact that the cover looked similar to the Paper Magician series.
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I have been listlessly staring at my bookshelves (and random piles of books around the house, who am I kidding) for months now, hoping for one of those books. I was looking for a book that would necessitate a break from reading, just so I could take the time to collect myself and my emotions afterward. I wanted a story and characters that I could really delve into, snuggling into their perspectives and thoughts and dreams.

The Beautiful Ones, written by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, was that book. Moreno-Garcia masterfully spun this story, giving each character their own unique voice and building a world that I could not look away from. Is the world mostly involved with the interactions of high-class society, and the small details that define that world? Absolutely. The minimal focus on long-winded descriptions and subtle world building allowed the characters and their interpersonal interactions with one another to shine and gave them the prominence they deserved.

Oh, how I loved this book. I delighted with Nina as she explored her new world of the Grand Season, happily making friends with Hector and testing the limits of what Valerie would allow her to do. I wallowed with Hector in his distractions, not even very bothered by the decade-long love affair that had stretched on a little longer than might be believable for this skeptic’s mind. And, of course, Valerie–I thoroughly enjoyed the changing nuance of her emotions, both spiteful and fraught with more pleasant memories, as she revealed more and more of herself over the course of the novel.

This novel was extremely character driven and Moreno-Garcia did a fabulous job of giving each character their own voice, their own desires and motivations, wants and needs. I was invested in each one, in seeing how they’d fall apart and put themselves back together–or not, or put someone else back together, or fall apart again. Their choices shaped the consequences that they had to face and answered the question of who will save them, over and over again.

(Of course, the dramatic tension was only helped by the fact that I started this book immediately before getting corrective eye surgery, and was forced not to read for a whole week in between. Talk about torture!)

But please, if you enjoy a foray into a sumptuous, decadent world with an utterly captivating love story, please read this book. I fell in love, and hope you do, too.

The Beautiful Ones, written by Silvia Moreno-Garcia will be published on October 24th, 2017 by Thomas Dunne Books. Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy.
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