Since Belle swirled into the ballroom in her sunshine yellow ballgown in 1991, I have been enamored of the Beauty and the Beast trope in historical romance. I think it speaks to the most essential humane part of ourselves that we wish to save those who have been beaten down by life and left with either physical scars or emotional and mental ones.
The Scarred Hero
The Scarred Hero is the main attraction for me in a Beauty and the Beast historical romance. They are simply more realistic. Not every man is blessed with a silver spoon in his mouth at birth, and I enjoy a character-driven story when the character has so much to overcome.
The Scarred Hero is essential to the Beauty and the Beast trope, and my favorite 4 historical romances that use this trope really take the meaning of Scarred Hero to new levels. As I said, the scars aren’t always physical ones nor must they be something wrought with emotional fatigue. Sometimes it’s the length of time one has carried a burden that leads to damage.
The Perfect Heroine
I love one of the opening songs in the 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast by Disney where Gaston tells everyone how he’s going to marry Belle because she’s perfect and everyone else is singing about how she’s not.
Again, we have the perfect character who is far more realistic than the damsel in distress. The heroine of the Beauty and the Beast Trope has a very tricky and fine line to straddle. She must be beautiful, smart, and caring, but she also must have a level of eccentricity to set her apart.
The Perfect Blend
It’s the dichotomy of Belle versus the Beast that makes the Beauty and the Beast trope so appealing. The characters are inherently conflict driven in addition to the external conflict they may face. There is so much tension wound up in a single story you can’t help but read as quickly as possible.
So here it is…
My 4 Favorite Historical Romances That Use the Beauty and the Beast Trope
Our heroine, Isolde Goodnight, is the perfect plain heroine to our scarred, recluse of a hero.
Izzy believes she has inherited the falling down, decrepit castle where our hero happens to be living.
Why is our hero living in a decrepit, old castle?
Because he’s the Beast character hiding from the fact that he’s blind!
The Duke of Rothbury must face off against Izzy if he is to keep his home, but can he withstand Izzy’s belle-like charms?
Our heroine, Helen Fitzwilliam, is an interesting spin on the Beauty character of this historical romance trope. I don’t do spoilers here, so all I’ll tell you is what you learn in the first chapter. Helen is on the run with her two children, and she’s trying to disappear from her children’s father.
Our hero, Sir Alistair Munroe, is physically and emotionally scarred from fighting in the Colonies. And yes, he’s hiding in a castle, too, because that’s what Beasts do.
What I love about this Beauty and the Beast trope historical romance is that it has Elizabeth Hoyt’s natural earthy edge to it. Hoyt’s writing is always hyper-realistic especially for historical romance, and here it is alluring and breathtaking all at once.
This is actually a historical romance novella, but I’m including it here because there is a scene involving an anvil that will NEVER LEAVE YOUR MIND.
So on that note…
Here the Beast trope is taken to mean social class. The heroine, Miss Diana Highwood, is born into a prominent family and is likely to marry well. But how can that happen when she’s faced with Aaron Dawes, the village blacksmith?
You see where this is going.
And now for my absolute favorite Beauty and the Beast trope historical romance…
Oh. My. Dog.
Anna Wren must take a job as secretary to Edward de Raaf, the Earl of Swartingham, when she is widowed and finds herself in financial trouble.
Edward is a survivor of smallpox, which killed his entire family, leaving him physically and emotionally scarred.
Well, of course, these two are going to be attracted to one another, but when Edward decides to visit a notorious London brothel, Anna decides to sneak in and pose as one of the prostitutes to have her own womanly desires met…by Edward.
This book still haunts me, and I think it’s because it has some distinct Jane Eyre undertones. Anna first encounters Edward when he nearly runs her over with his horse, but she doesn’t know it’s him until later. Even the description of Anna is very Jane Eyre like.
However, it is the incredibly sensual aspect of this book that makes it stand out. These are two rational people facing an emotional turmoil that demands anything but reasonability.
I’ve read the entire Princes Trilogy by Hoyt and recommend them all, but definitely start with the Raven.