I have some mixed feelings about this one, although they are mostly positive. The setting is a gorgeous historical, dark, and fantasy-filled New Orleans. It was so decadent and dark and beautifully described. I really enjoyed everything about it. For how little the actual vampirism showed up (more on that in a second), The Beautiful gave off some very creepy, Halloween-y vibes. I also loved the sprinklings of French from Parisian Celine and multilingual Bastien. The mesh of different cultures is definitely part of the appeal of The Beautiful for me. Celine and Bastien are both diverse characters (and there are many more besides them).
However, if you are interested in The Beautiful as a vampire romance, be warned. This book was more of a historical paranormal mystery than anything else. The vampires were not really the focus (at least, not until the end). Honestly, I don’t think the romance was the focus either, although it did become more important as the story progressed. I think there were some interesting fantasy ideas presented, but they weren’t really expounded on. I’m hoping The Damned (which I haven’t yet read) will give more fantasy development while still keeping the creepy mystery vibes.
Even though I didn’t feel the romance was the main point of the story, there was plenty of it included. Honestly, this was my main point of disappointment with The Beautiful. Celine and Bastien don’t even have their first conversation until well into the book, but by the end, they are every obsessed, frantically in love couple ever. At least, I am supposed to believe that based on how it ended (no spoilers). The whole development of their love story was a little unbelievable for me. They clearly have chemistry and their conversations are full of sparks, but they spend most of the book being very hot and cold (especially Bastien). Then they are suddenly crazy about each other at the end? I just didn’t really get it, personally. I appreciated that they had an immediate connection, but their strong emotional bond felt kind of sudden to me.
I was also a little confused about Celine herself. Overall, she is a heroine you can route for. She is definitely brave and she knows her own mind. She is also a character who stands up for herself, except when it comes to certain instances with Bastien and his group. They treated you badly! They are not good people! Why do you still want to be their friend? Because you like Bastien? It felt inconsistent with her character at times, and I think that is the reason I couldn’t fully connect with her. I liked her overall, but the idea of who she is supposed to be is better than who she actually was, if that makes sense.