Title: Bellamy and The Brute
Author: Alicia Michaels
Publication Date: March 13th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales
A fresh twist on a classic story, Bellamy and the Brute proves true love really is blind.
When Bellamy McGuire is offered a summer job babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family, she's reluctant to accept. After all, everyone in town knows about the mysterious happenings at the mansion on the hill - including the sudden disappearance of the Baldwin's eldest son, Tate. The former football star and golden boy of Wellhollow Springs became a hermit at the age of sixteen, and no one has seen or heard from him since. Rumors abound as to why, with whisperings about a strange illness - one that causes deformity and turned him into a real-life monster. Bellamy wants to dismiss these rumors as gossip, but when she's told that if she takes the job, she must promise to never, ever visit the third floor of the mansion, she begins to wonder if there really is some dark truth hidden there.
Tate's condition may not be the only secret being kept at Baldwin house. There are gaps in the family's financial history that don't add up, and surprising connections with unscrupulous characters. At night there are strange noises, unexplained cold drafts, and the electricity cuts out. And then there are the rose petals on the staircase. The rose petals that no one but Bellamy seems to be able to see. The rose petals that form a trail leading right up to the 3rd floor, pas the portrait of a handsome young man, and down a dark hallway where she promised she would never, ever go...
As Bellamy works to unravel the mysteries of Baldwin House and uncover the truth about Tate, she realizes that she is in way over her head...in more ways than one. Can her bravery and determination help to right the wrongs of the past and free the young man whose story has captured her heart?
Tale as Old as Time … Made New: Retelling a Classic
Retelling a fairy tale is hardly a novel concept. There are certain stories that become so timeless, that the themes lend themselves well to being reused, revamped, and retold. As an author who has retold many classic fairy tales, I’ll admit that Beauty and the Beast was one I never wanted to touch. It’s been retold so many times that I wasn’t sure that I could offer a fresh enough perspective. But, as the old saying goes … “Never say never”. I promise, it’s an old saying, used well before Justin Bieber made it the title of a song/album/documentary.
When I decided to tackle the story of Beauty and the Beast, I gave a lot of thought to ways I could preserve many of the original themes and ideas, while telling a modern story for young adults. The result became Bellamy and the Brute, and I couldn’t be prouder of the way it turned out. As a fan of the original story and Disney movie, I thought it appropriate to share the differences and similarities between the original and my version. It is my hope that readers will find comfort in the familiar, while also discovering something completely new and original.
It is my opinion that the very essence of Beauty and the Beast lies in the heart of Belle, the heroine who sees past the Beast’s outer appearance to the man inside. Without her there can be no story. For me, it was important to preserve what makes Belle who she is, while turning her into a modern day teenager. And so, Belle from France, became Bellamy from small-town Georgia.
What’s the same: Bellamy (AKA Bell), is a bookworm with a heart of gold. She’s a bit of an outcast because of her father’s eccentricities, and doesn’t have very many friends. But she’s not a pushover … Bell is strong, and stands up for herself, and others, when it becomes necessary.
What’s different: The only true difference between Bellamy and Belle—aside from the obvious youth and modernization—is appearance. Bellamy is African-American, in a twist that I thought could add some much-needed diversity to the world of fairy tales and retellings. I am excited at the idea of using the essence of ‘Belle’ to create a heroine who offers representations to girls who don’t often get it, while still preserving what makes the ‘beauty’ of the story who she truly is … inwardly kind and loving.
In Bellamy and the Brute, ‘The Beast’ becomes Tate Baldwin (AKA The Brute). Just as important to the story as Belle, the ‘Beast’ needed to be wounded, deformed in some way, and spoiled. There is no ‘Beast’ without those characteristics.
What’s the same: Tate is part of the wealthiest family in town, making him like royalty (he might as well be a prince). He’s been cursed because of his arrogance and cruelty toward others … one person in particular. He’s physically deformed and has secluded himself in his mansion to escape the eyes and scorn of everyone in town.
What’s different: Tate is deformed, but he’s not an actual animal. His deformity manifests itself in his face only, which only makes his seclusion necessary because of his own pride. Tate also lives with an entire family, not by himself like Beast from the movie. However, he might as well live by himself, because he stays shut away in one wing of the house and is rarely ever seen.
Some of my favorite scenes from Beauty and the Beast portray Gaston hitting on Belle and getting shot down. And, of course, we all know that he goes from being an annoyance to an all-out threat. There was no way I could retell this story without including a Gaston-like character. Thus, Lincoln Burns was born.
What’s the same: Lincoln wants Bellamy … badly. Mostly because she’s the only girl in school not falling all over herself in his presence. It annoys him that she is so indifferent toward him, and never ceases to remind her how amazing he is and what an opportunity she’s missing out on by spurning him. He’s got big muscles and a tiny brain.
What’s different: Lincoln and Tate have a past history, which makes him even more of a threat when the poo hits the fan.
The home of the Beast is as important to the story as the characters. With furniture coming alive and plotting to help Beast win Belle’s heart, it added life and vibrancy to the tale. Because Bellamy and the Brute has a bit of a darker, almost horror-ish feel to it, some changes had to be made with the backdrop of the house, while still making it an important part of the story.
What’s the same: The house is still a mansion—as close to being a castle without actually being a castle as possible. It’s a bit gothic and haunting, while still being beautiful. There’s still a painting of ‘The Beast’ in his former appearance, which Bellamy stumbles upon in part of the story. There are still forbidden areas of the house, and there are consequences if Bellamy ever decides to venture there.
What’s different: Talking furniture doesn’t translate as well into a modern reboot as one might like, so I had to approach the ‘magical’ aspect of the story a bit differently. Baldwin House is haunted by two very angry spirits who leave trails of rose petals everywhere they go. Why? You’ll have to read Bellamy and the Brute to find out!
Ever since she first read books like Chronicles of Narnia or Goosebumps, Alicia has been a lover of mind-bending fiction. Wherever imagination takes her, she is more than happy to call that place her home. With several Fantasy and Science Fiction titles under her belt, Alicia strives to write multicultural characters and stories that touch the heart. V-Card, the first book of the Sharing Spaces series, was her first Contemporary Romance.
The mother of three and wife to a soldier, she loves chocolate, coffee, and of course good books. When not writing, you can usually find her with her nose in a book, shopping for shoes and fabulous jewelry, or spending time with her loving family.