Title: Beast and the Harlot Author: penpaninuSessh
Source: Beauty and the Beast Character(s): Belle & Beast/Prince Adam
Rating: M Genre(s): Romance / Angst
Chapter(s): 1 Status: Complete
Author’s Synopsis: A different take on Beauty and the Beast inspired by the Disney film and the 1964 film. Belle is a courtesan, working to pay her father’s hospital bills. The Beast forms a tentative relationship with her; love and lust develop over time.
Welcome Readers, I know I keep teasing this 122-chapter story but I’m almost done with it – just another 20 chapters to go then I’ll be ready to review it. In the meantime, I went looking for one shot stories and found this AU version of Beauty and the Beast. It’s an…interesting take on the story that combines elements from various versions (Disney, original story, Broadway, and live action movie) and melds them together. For a full list of what parts were taken from each, look at the very end of the story in the Author’s Note for details. Without further ado, let’s get this review underway!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.
For this story, Belle is a harlot (although she acts more like a companion from “Firefly”) and she gets an unusual client – “Prince Adam” – who turns out to be a massive beast. After initial reactions, Belle comes to find that the beast has not paid for tumble in the bed sheets but for Belle’s time to…talk. It continues as such where every so often “Prince Adam” makes an appointment with Belle and they simply spend their time conversing. There’s more to the story but I’m certain that Readers can figure out where the story eventually leads without me going through it all.
This story has several things going for it; the added characters, the reasoning for Belle’s profession, and the characterization of Belle. However, there are a few things that brought the story down for me. One of them is just a personal grievance and the other is a concern with the ending and romance.
Instead of the story trying to squeeze in the recognizable characters from Disney films, it uses either original characters or characters from the ‘60s film or Broadway. For instance, the Madame and her husband, a bouncer named Dick, and a client name LaFrac. None of these names are from the Disney version. Then there’s characters like Gaston who are from the Disney version aren’t given preferential treatment; in fact, Gaston doesn’t have much of a role. He’s given a more cursory mention rather than a focus. So, the lack of notable characters from the Disney version makes the story very interesting and changes the environment a bit.
Now, it would be so simple to provide Belle a copout motive to pursue a profession as a harlot; like her being left at the brothel to pay off Maurice’s debt. Instead, her father is being treated for a rare illness and the treatments are costly. So, to pay the bills and make sure her father is well attended, Belle willingly pursues the lucrative career of courtesan. The story does a good job in making sure that the Readers understand that Belle’s profession is of her choosing and that no one forces it upon her except circumstance. In fact, the story even acknowledges that while Belle would have preferred making a living through non-sexual means, she wouldn’t make nearly as much money.
I enjoyed this motivation because it gives Belle more character; she is actively choosing how she will handle difficulties in her life. There is nothing forced upon her and she is very much in control of her actions within the circumstances. I find so many stories take the control out of the character’s hands and puts it into the hands of a character Readers – and the character – are meant to blame. It’s refreshing to find such a change.
Belle’s characterization in this story is excellent. She is not meant to be a character who is to be pitied because of the circumstances that have led her to the bordello. Instead, she is a woman of pose and class; she knows her profession and does her best to learn how each of her clients’ ticks. There’s the attention to her clothes, her makeup, and how she preps for clients. As a Reader it becomes apparent that Belle has the profession down to a science as with the mention of a client’s name she adjusts her dress to best suit that client’s preferences. Plus, there’s the relationship between Belle and the other bordello occupants; each one is different but it’s very apparent that the men working there are protective (albeit obsessively) of her while the other women see her as a rival.
Overall, the story is pretty good but I won’t ever go back to it. There are elements of the story that make me uncomfortable. For instance, the sex between Belle and Beast. I’m not a fan of it mostly because it resembles bestiality to me and bestiality is an area that I am uncomfortable exploring (even in literature). So, the scene doesn’t make the story bad and it’s written in a non-raunchy way – I’ve read filthier and far more carnal sex scenes before – but the image of Belle and Beast fucking makes me uneasy. Again, this does not make the story bad and it’s just a personal aversion.
The other thing that makes me a bit concerned is that Belle prefers Adam as a Beast rather than as a human. I get the idea of the fact that she fell in love with the Beast and having Adam as human makes it hard to reconcile that they’re the same person, but it also suggests that it’s going to be a constant uphill battle in their romance. I mean how can Adam compete with a form he can no longer take? It’s a personal grievance though. It by no means detracts from the story. It just leaves me a little uneasy about the future of their relationship.
Would I recommend the story? Yeah. It’s a nice, refreshing, adult retelling of a beloved, classic fairy tale. It’s a quick read with enough meat to truly engage the Reader without making it a skeleton of a story. If Readers are looking for a tale with more drama and a major showdown between Beast and Gaston, then look elsewhere. This is a story that brings an adult setting while holding onto the brevity of movie story-telling (time is suggested to have passed and more summaries than showing progression).