Beauty and the Werewolf (Five Hundred Kingdoms Series #6)

Beauty and the Werewolf (Five Hundred Kingdoms Series #6)

by Mercedes Lackey

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373803460
Publisher: Luna
Publication date: 05/22/2012
Series: Five Hundred Kingdoms Series , #6
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 223,593
Product dimensions: 4.26(w) x 6.42(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Mercedes Lackey has written over one hundred titles and has no plans to slow down. Known best for her tales of Valdemar and The Five Hundred Kingdoms, she's also a prolific lyricist and records her own music.

Read an Excerpt

The door opened, spilling out light and heat and laughter and a snatch of music into the darkened street. It closed again, and Isabella Beau-champs shivered with delighted anticipation.

"Come on!" she urged her twin stepsisters, as they hung back a little. "It sounds like the dancing has just started!"

"I still don't think—" said Amber.

"It's so…declasse—" said Pearl.

"Of course it is," Bella replied, laughing. "That's why it's going to be fun! For once, you're going to come to a dance and enjoy yourselves!" She seized each of them by the hand, and tugged them to the door of the Wool Guild Hall.

"But what if someone—" said Amber.

"Recognizes us?" finished Pearl.

"You're wearing your masks, for one thing," Bella replied, logically. "And for another, those are last year's gowns. Would anyone believe you'd wear last year's gowns?"

"No!" they replied in chorus, and then giggled behind their free hands. "They'll probably think I'm Jea-nette," said Amber. "And Pearl is Marguerite."

"Very likely. Now come on!" Providentially, someone opened the door once more, and Bella pulled them through it before they could object again.

Last year's fashions had included a vogue for "shepherdess gowns," although these looked like no shepherdess that Bella was familiar with. She had successfully managed to get them to keep the gowns rather than giving them away as they usually did when the fashions changed, arguing that they would make good fancy-dress costumes.

Both gowns had short skirts that showed the girls' feet in embroidered dancing slippers, trim little ankles in silk stockings and a hint of ruffled pantaloons. There were only three ruffled petticoats and no crinolines. The undergowns were of silk, embroidered with sprigs of flowers—though only in the front, where it showed. The draped overgowns were of silk-satin, trimmed on the hems with silk roses and three layers of ruffled lace. The bodices were tight-fitting, but not so tight that they wouldn't be able to breathe—unlike several of the girls' more fashionable outfits—and were made of the same satin, lace and silk roses as the skirt of the overgown. Pearl's was pink, Amber's was lilac. When she had first seen the gowns, Bella had thought privately that they looked less like shepherdesses and more like cakes with girls stuck in the middle. But then the vogue for all things bucolic had brought a set of porcelain shepherd and shepherdess figurines into the house, and she realized that this was how people who had never seen a living sheep thought their minders looked—and the fashion copied it.

Once inside she dropped their hands and paused, waiting for the impact of the room to fade. At the far end of the Hall was a raised platform, and the entire platform at the moment was covered in musicians. Not content with hiring just a few, the Guild had hired every decent musician for miles around, and even paid them to rehearse together. There were fiddlers, flute players, a drummer, three harpists, four lutenists, a trumpeter and players of instruments Bella couldn't even name.

Just now they were playing for a Running Set dance—and both of Bella's sisters made identical little Os with their mouths and clasped their hands together with delight. They'd never seen anything like this, of course. It wasn't the sort of dance that their dancing master would teach or approve of.

It was at times like these that Bella really adored her silly little stepsisters. They might be frivolous, they might think far too much about fashion and far too little about virtually everything else, but they had good hearts. Where girls who put on airs would look at this gathering and turn up their noses and sniff with disdain, they looked at people having fun, thought it wonderful and wanted to join.

The musicians were sawing and plucking and blowing for all they were worth, and keeping up an exhausting pace. Those who weren't dancing were clapping and stamping in time. And as Pearl and Amber were about to discover, anyone could join the dance at any time. Bella grinned as she spotted three stalwart lads separating themselves from the crowd on the sidelines and heading straight for them.

The Wool Guild had far more male members than female, and even with the addition of daughters and other relatives, unattached women were thin on the ground at a gathering like this one. Add as these three unattached women were young, shapely and what showed under their masks was comely enough, she was not at all surprised to see three more young fellows detach from another part of the crowd and head for them, too.

Bella never did see how they sorted themselves out. She had already chosen her partner from the six as they approached, and maneuvered herself so that he was the first to get to her. He was quick; he grinned as he saw her coyly reaching for him and he seized her hand, swinging her into the Set without a single word. She had no fear that her sisters would get into trouble, not here. The matrons of the Guild stood as chaper-ones to every young woman who entered the Hall tonight, fierce dragons ensuring not only the safety of the girls, but that their boys were not ensnared by a young woman who was "no better than she should be." This allowed the young to enjoy themselves to the hilt in freedom—limited, but still freedom—and let them revel in the anonymity of their masks.

Bella loved to dance. Especially country dances. The fancy nonsense taught by their dancing master was too mannered and contrived to be fun. You had to think too much about the steps, and the music was as mannered as the dances. The Running Set left her just warmed up, and when another partner presented himself for a Chardash, she was more than ready to step out. She did keep a bit of an eye on her seventeen-year-old stepsisters, but they were having the same innocent fun that she was. They never had the same partner twice, they never spent too long in the company of any one young man and when they finally got winded—much sooner than Bella did, but then they didn't get nearly the exercise that she did—they repaired to a bench big enough for only two, where they were surrounded by young men eager to bring them cups of punch and flirt harmlessly with them. Pearl's careful arrangement of curls was beginning to come down, but for once, she was indifferent to the disintegration of her perfection. In fact, the next time Bella came around the floor, she saw that Pearl had pulled out her hairpins and taken a ribbon to make a simple headband with a flower tucked into it. Privately, Bella thought the effect was much more flattering than the overdone hairstyle that she had been sporting.

The musicians signaled that they were taking a rest by ending the dance with a special flourish. Without being asked, Bella's partner escorted her to her stepsisters. There wasn't room for her on their bench, but she didn't mind; she stood behind them and accepted a cup of punch from yet another young man.

"I don't have to ask if you're having fun," she said, pulling a fan off her belt and vigorously cooling herself with it.

"I don't know when I have ever had such a good time!" Pearl whispered, as Amber giggled and sipped punch demurely. "No one has this much fun at the parties we get invited to."

The twins had caught their breath by this point, and allowed new partners to carry them off into the dance. For a moment Bella found herself without anyone to chaperone and without a partner—

"Alone and defenseless. Just the way I like them," purred a voice in her ear.

Reflexively she stomped her neat little heel onto a set of booted toes, thrust an elbow behind her and nimbly leaped over the bench the twins had been sitting on. Since the current dance was a very lively Dargason, this went entirely unnoticed.

There was a muffled yelp and an equally muffled curse as reactions to her assault, but when she turned, whoever had accosted her was gone already.

She knew who it was, however. There was no mistaking that voice. Duke Sebastian's Gamekeeper—who was rather too superior to allow anyone to call him a Gamekeeper to his face, insisting on the loftier title of Woodsman. He was, without a doubt, taking advantage of the fact that this was a masked ball to try his luck and his charms on girls who were here with- out Guardian Mamas. Well, too bad for him, the dog; he'd found a bitch who would bite back. Serves him right, she thought, seething a little. She didn't seethe long, though; a moment later the musicians struck up "Jenny Pluck Pears" and a partner materialized out of the crowd, and she was back to doing what she loved best.

Much earlier than she would have liked, but about the time it was prudent to take leave, she and the twins met at the bench again in a similar state of happy, panting, overheated exhaustion. "I really do not think," Amber puffed out, "that another round of punch is going to restore me one little bit."

"Me, either," Pearl panted, though she looked wistful.

Bella nodded. "All right, then, they've just brought a fresh bowl out. Let's slip away while there's a mob for punch."

About this time of night people started slipping something a bit stronger than wine into the punch, too. Not that, given the enormous bowl that was kept filled, one bottle of brandy was going to have much effect—but it was better to leave while the only unpleasant spot on the festivities was that wretched Gamekeeper, Eric.

Once out in the night air, they were glad of their cloaks. Things were very frosty. "I think it will snow again soon," Bella remarked, as the three of them hurried through the silent streets to Henri Beauchamps's handsome house. "If you don't mind people knowing it's us, we can go skating on the pond by moonlight as soon as the ice is hard enough. There's usually a bonfire and chestnut sellers and mulled cider and music."

At nearly four years older than her stepsisters, Bella had been sneaking off to these dances long enough to know exactly which ones were going to be great fun, as this one had been, and which were ones that it was prudent to stay away from.

Bella unlocked the private door into the garden and gave each of the girls a little basket she had waiting on a shelf above where most people would look. "We're home!" she called up the staircase. "The girls found some nice things."

As she expected, it was Genevieve's maid that appeared, not Genevieve herself. "Mistress would like to see you when you have all changed into something more comfortable," she said, with the little sniff that told she meant cleaner.

"Of course, we brought her a few things, as well. We'll be there in merest moments," Bella said breezily, ignoring the snub. She didn't at all mind; it meant that Genevieve was not going to be asking why the girls were in their shepherdess frocks when the gowns were no longer the mode and were rather unsuitable for scrambling about in their father's warehouse.

Henri Beauchamps was a merchant trader, as his father had been before him, and his father before that, coming up from a mere peddler with a single donkey; at the moment, he had a thriving business in furs, although at one time or another he had dealt in practically anything that wasn't living and couldn't be eaten.

Bella had always had the run of the warehouse and the freedom to take anything she pleased, but when she had asked the twins if they wanted to go to the dance, she had hit upon the notion of saying they were going to the warehouse with her.

Now, the reason Bella went combing through the old stores was because she had an uncanny knack for finding forgotten treasures there. Many had been the time when Genevieve, Amber or Pearl would look at some bit of lace, panel of delicate embroidery or other little addition to her gowns and ask where she had got it. If she answered "the warehouse," there would be much sighing, for this meant it was not likely there was any more of it, nor would be ever again.

Genevieve was consequently quite happy to allow her girls to go rummaging through the building—which was not at all dusty and dirty, though you could never persuade her of that. Thus, a perfectly reasonable explanation for why the girls would be out after supper. Bella had, in fact, made the selections in the three baskets yesterday.

They all hurried up to their rooms. The twins' maid was one of Henri's household, and was completely loyal to Bella; no fear there that the twins would be tattled on. And Bella herself did without a maid; she had elected to do so as soon as she was old enough to dress herself, and saw no reason to change unless the gown she had to get into was more complicated than the simple things she usually wore. When she was comfortable in nightgown, dressing gown and heavy plush robe with matching blue slippers, she picked up her basket and went to her stepmother's room.

Genevieve was sitting up in bed, like an expensive porcelain bed-doll on display, surrounded by the boxes and jars and cabinets full of the pills she took for her many—mostly imagined—ailments. Genevieve fancied herself an invalid. She kept three doctors busy—

Well, she would have kept them busy if they had actually been treating her. Instead, they were pretending to treat her, honest gentlemen that they were, giving her harmless concoctions made of flowers, simple herbs that could do no harm and even bits of baked cookie dough. They charged her father almost nothing, and yet, because they knew Genevieve so very well, they were alert to anything that might be an illness, serious or otherwise. He in his turn kept these old friends well supplied with the finest wines and brandies that he came across in his trading ventures, so it was a good arrangement all around.

"It's Genevieve's hobby," he had once told Bella, when she made some scornful remark about it. "It's harmless enough since I am not actually paying my friends anything, and she is not being dosed with things that really would make her ill."

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Beauty and the Werewolf 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 114 reviews.
ldosch More than 1 year ago
This is the 6th book in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. This is a fractured fairy tale. The story is about Isabella (Bella) Beauchamps who lives with her father, stepmother and two stepsisters. She goes off one afternoon to visit and bring a basket of treats to Granny, the local old woman who sells potions and gives advise. Along the way she meets up the Woodsman, Eric, and on her way home after dark is attacked by the wolf or in the case werewolf. Starting to sound familiar?? After Bella is bitten by the werewolf, she is sent by the King and local Fairy Godmother to stay with Duke Sebastian, who is a scholarly and shy sorcerer, and who is also cursed to change into a werewolf during the full moon. The King determines that the needs to stay secluded with him for three months until they can determine if she will also start to turn at the full moon. While Bella assists Sebastian in his spells, as he tries to break the curse, she talks to her Fairy Godmother through her magic mirror, and she learns that everyone in the City is pushed by The Tradition which is an underlying force that tries to fit everyone into a fairytale storyline. This is an interesting spin on the usual fairytales that we all know and love. I found the invisible servants and Bella's attempt to identify and work with them very entertaining. Received advance copy from NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ms. Lackey's latest addition to her Five Hundred Kingdoms adventure-romances offers the qualities that have made the other stories in the series such fun to read: intelligent and likable characters, clever adaptation of classic fairy tales and legends, solid storytelling, and a wry sense of humor. As is typical for her work, history and mythology fans are likely to appreciate the attention to detail and background. While reading it in sequence with the rest of the series will make it a richer experience, I think it also works well as a stand-alone novel. Heartily recommended (as is the rest of the series) for anybody who enjoys adventure, romance, magic, or who has ever wondered what would happen if the characters in fables and tales stopped to question their traditional roles.
rhonda1111RL More than 1 year ago
4 STARS I liked Bella and how she thought, did not give up. When I first reading I thought it was a version of Cinderella then red riding hood or Beauty & the Beast. It makes sense when you get into the book why it had different bits of different fairy tales. Bella has a step mother and two younger step sisters. Her father is a business man. Bella has run the house since she was 10. She is very intelligent and likes to care for others. She is learning about healing plants from her Grandmother in the woods. Bella gets taken and made to stay with the Duke Sebastian for at least three months. She is upset but makes the best of it and doesn't mind telling the Duke or others off. Bella finds ways to make herself useful and learns a lot of new skills. I don't want to ruin the story surprises by saying to munch but did enjoy them. The story keeps my attention and would read more books from Mercedes Lackey. I was given this ebook to read in exchange for honest review from Netgalley.
cer-2 More than 1 year ago
More a re-imagining of Beauty and The Beast than Red Riding Hood (and definitely not a werewolf or paranormal tale). A good read. Ms. Lackey always writes well. Not what you would expect from the book cover description/excerpt. The Red Hooded Cape makes exactly one appearance and the werewolf three very minimal/short appearance. While actually a surprisingly more interesting take on the fairytale retelling than I was expecting, I think this one had more an air of author's Elemental Masters series than her Five Hundred Kingdoms (a well brought up dutiful young lady encountering magic but still a part of her small-town, class dependent, family/village possibly why I got that feeling). Excerpt made it sound like action packed with all these characters fighting the bad guys/magic/curse whatever in defiance of The Tradition (if you are unfamiliar with series, a big part of Five Hundred Kingdoms worldbuilding with "The Tradition" being a force manipulating persons along the lines of familiar tales) with a fairytale romance/aspect ongoing and fairy godmother involvement. Actual book (I read ebook edition so have to give it to you in percentage reads), The Tradition was not even known to Bella until about 75% thru book; no whiff of romance until 90% thru (other than avoiding some unwanted advances from potential villains and not wanting to just be married off like other village lasses), no love interest/romance until 97% thru. Actually, most of the real Five Hundred Kingdom stuff with royalty and godmothers and (even though I did like the read I have to say not the fastest paced thing) nearly all the action packed into last 3% of book. I think I would have rated 4 stars with a little more action and a little less the sweet-natured village lass wondering about a castle, befriending servants, putting the stillroom to rights, being polite to her captors ... and most other characters pretty minimally drawn. The main character and the plotline, not as original as I would have wanted. But still a good read and I am still a Mercedes Lackey fan and likely to read the next Five Hundred Kingdoms entry
MCHEATH More than 1 year ago
I had fun reading this book. Story is definitely not Disney which makes it even better.
AnnArborPam More than 1 year ago
Ms. Lackey has produced a good read. Light, entertaining and not demanding too much of her readers. Many ages will enjoy this book. That's the good stuff. The bad stuff is quibbling at the edges. She is obviously not trying to produce world class literature that will survive the ages. She is producing a "good read" and she has. Her characters are not developed in depth, her villain is pretty obvious from the first and the plot is a variant of Beauty and the Beast. This book does not have the lovely light humor of "One Good Knight" or "Fortune's Fool". It does not have the depth of character or situation of "Phoenix and Ashes". These books show that Ms. Lackey (one of my favorite authors) has the skill to produce both humor and depth, but she has not chosen to do so with this book. Read it on it's own merits - a "good read". Book clubs may find it interesting to contrast this book with Beauty and the Beast whose main point is the struggles of the Beast with the help of the Beauty to overcome his own weaknesses and to grow as an intelligent being with this book where no such struggle exists.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Isabella Beauchamps tries to get along with her stepmother (Genevieve) and two stepsisters (Amber and Pearl). However, she is unhappy as she feels like the outsider with her dad Henri the merchant paying attention to his second wife and her two daughters. One day wearing a cloak of red Bella journeys through the forbidden forest where she meets Eric the woodsman as she brings goodies to Granny the wisewoman and heeds her advice. On the way home, a werewolf attacks and bites her. The king sends Bella to stay with reclusive sorcerer Duke Sebastian to determine whether she is a full moon shifter. Her reluctant host is also a werewolf trying to find a spell to remove the shifter curse. At the same time she assists the duke with his experiments and also struggles to identify his servants, Bella, using a mirror, consults with her Fairy Godmother who explains none can buck the universal Tradition force that insures everyone fits inside a fairy tale. The latest fabulous Five Hundred Kingdoms fantasy (see The Sleeping Beauty and The Fairy Godmother) is a terrific entry as Mercedes Lackey once again satirizes the Tradition roles of society in which those stepping outside the box are condemned as heretics rather than pioneers. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while there is plenty of humor as Bella attempts to break out of the Tradition expected of the oldest daughter. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down, read the whole thing in a day and was sad when it ended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If only Lackey would stop cranking out books as fast as she can. She really does have a way with words. Lately her books all seem to be clones of each other, preachy as hell, & have endings that feel forced. Endings that feel like she's thinking "oh crap, i've gotta finish this up, here's the fastest, easiest way i can think of" the reader knows exactly who did what & why before you reach chapter 3! The main character is yet another near-perfect person, but irritated me immensely. The scene where she's talking to the kitchen servants really got to me. She essentially was saying, "even though you are smart enough 2 do all this cooking, are smart enough to be upset at how much food is wasted, etc, arent you lucky i'm here now, to do all the thinking for everyone!? Aren't you grateful?". She also has the same speeches & lectures that she has in EVERY BOOK! Doesn't matter what series it is, she has the same lecture! It gets really old! If Lackey doesn't take some time off, & let her imagination come out & play again, i just might have to stop reading her new books altogether. I never thought i'd have to say that .Please? Bring your old skill back, no more clones?
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SRei.Watson More than 1 year ago
Recommended for fans of Mercedes Lackey, fairy tale re-tellings, & fantasy.
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Beverly_D More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars. The story starts as a mash-up between Beauty and The Beast and Little Red Riding Hood, with a few elements from Cinderella sprinkled in. Bella is on her way to visit Granny, the area’s Herb Woman. She’s wearing her father’s old hunting cloak, because it’s warm, and because it’s bright red, and she has no desire to be mistaken for a deer and shot as she passes through the woods. Still, she is waylaid and threatened by a rather beastly man on the way to Granny’s. After blowing off steam with Granny and figuring out a course of action to pay the man back, she enjoys her time with the wisewoman. When she leaves Granny’s cottage, it’s late, but she’s taken this path before, at this time, and there’s a full moon rising. Cue the Big Bad Wolf. Bella manages to evade him, to arm herself with a stout tree branch, and to find a rock against which she can defend herself. Still, she manages to get bitten. Upon reaching home, she receives medical attention from one of her stepmother’s doctors. In the morning, she is basically arrested and hauled off to be incarcerated in Duke Sebastian’s manor, until it can be established she will not also “turn” at the time of the full moon. I liked that in his human skin, Duke Sebastian was a young, shy, bespectacled wizard. He seemed about as un-scary a creature as possible, when not howling at the moon. Bella, on the other hand, came off a bit overbearing. She was nice to the servants, to her younger stepsisters, but that seemed to be because she dominated them. Granted, I probably would have an attitude too, if somebody bit me, and then I had to be quarantined, but she comes off more than a bit abrasive towards Sebastian in the beginning, and it seems that she flips to falling in love with him a bit suddenly. The bad guy does everything but don a T-shirt saying, “I’m the bad guy.” Seems like everybody should have been saying, “It’s him, it’s him,” and then something throws them off and they felt guilty about it; instead it was like the elephant in the room. I do like the way in all Lackey’s romances, it’s not the hero saving the heroine, or vice versa, but both of them saving each other. I loved the invisible servants and the skill in how Lackey can make a scrap of ribbon able to convey human emotion. And the humor, there’s always a great deal of humor in her stories. I liked this book, but I didn’t love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tongue in cheek portrayal of a beloved fairytale with interesting, relatable main characters. Not your average werewolf story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Godmother Elena makes a couple of appearances trying to help our poor Bella help her poor "beast".. but wait - is that the right tale? I love her reworking of Traditional tales into some more tongue in cheek.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank u