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Anna Campbell | What a Beauty Is This Beast!

January 22, 2008

Great romances often have a mythic underpinning that adds depth and resonance. So a road romance can echo The Odyssey or a Harlequin Presents can hark back to the universal themes of Cinderella. I believe readers, even if not consciously aware of these patterns, recognize the structure in their subconscious minds. So the satisfaction we get at the end of The Ugly Duckling when the duckling after all his trials turns into the beautiful swan is the same satisfaction we get at the end of a great love story where the plain governess snags the fabulously glamorous Regency rake who recognizes her inner beauty.

One of my favorite fairytales is Beauty and the Beast so it’s no surprise it’s behind a lot of my stories. Beauty is a lot gutsier and more proactive than many fairytale heroines (I mean, Sleeping Beauty basically…sleeps!). Although she’s sure it means her death, Beauty offers herself up as the Beast’s prisoner to save her father. She’s also got some great values although perhaps a financial adviser mightn’t go astray. Still, it’s a lovely moment when after the sisters have asked for everything that walks and talks from their father, Beauty asks for nothing more than a rose. I love the Beast too. I love that his outer shell doesn’t match his inner heroism. I love that he loves Beauty so much. There’s a wonderful old French film of Beauty and the Beast where the Beast’s pain and loneliness just break my heart, especially when he admits his shame at being an animal before the woman he loves.

My second historical romance for Avon, Untouched, uses the themes of Beauty and the Beast. Matthew, the hero, has a lot in common with the Beast. In fairytale terms, he’s been cursed by his wicked uncle and forced to live as a captive madman. But like the Beast, Matthew has an inner strength that nothing can quash and like the Beast, when he falls in love with Grace, the heroine, it’s completely and forever. And as in the fairy story, Grace gradually sees past the façade to the wonderful man beneath. Only when they surrender to love and unite against evil can they break the curse and get their happily ever after. Which is how all the best fairytales end!

What’s your favorite fairytale? Does it find echoes in your favorite romances? And don’t forget to check out news, excerpts and my latest contest on

Anna Campbell

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