Tracey and Allison would first love to thank the wonderful people at The Novel Approach for letting us take over their page for a moment, and their selfless contributions to the realm of gay romance.
As far as fairy tales go, Beauty and the Beast has to convey one of the most important messages that we, as a culture, need to be reminded of on a constant basis. Beauty isn’t skin deep. It comes from the heart and the soul, in the little things we do for people, in the way we treat people. The most physically unattractive person on the planet might have the most beautiful heart, but too many people won’t take the time to find out. Beauty and the Beast is also a wonderful story of romantic transformation, of how loving and being loved can make people see the beauty inside themselves.
Ara and Ilias assume the classic roles—Ara being a man of great physical beauty but no heart, who is transformed into a beast after an accident leaves him horribly scarred, Ilias being a shy bookworm, who is full of love to give but also doesn’t plan to take anyone’s shit. Together, they grow and learn to love and accept the hand they’ve been dealt.
A few short excerpts:
In this excerpt, Ara takes a long hard look at himself, and this is the moment he realizes he has to let go of what he sees in the mirror, and embrace what’s inside him now.
He went straight to the dresser and met his reflection head-on. It stared back at him, scars in all the places they always were, mocking him, laughing at his good intentions. The scar slicing through his left eye reminded him of the cruel things he’d said to Beni. The gash across his lip reminded him of all the partners who’d kissed those lips without loving him. No one had ever loved him, and after the accident, no one ever would. So why bother warming up to anyone now? Why bother trying to be a better man?
Because you don’t want to be alone forever, Ara Costas. You don’t want to be hated.
He ran the tip of his finger over the scar crossing his mouth, eyeing all the little slivers dotting his cheeks and chin, each one a bit more heartbreaking than the one before it. No one would ever love him like this. No one would want to spend a lifetime looking at him in this condition. The surgeries got him this far, but he wasn’t perfect, not like he used to be.
Ilias couldn’t possibly want a man like me.
For Ara, accepting the fact he’s falling in love is a long, arduous process, just like it was for Beast. He sees himself as a monster and no one in their right mind could ever possibly love him. In this excerpt, he’s longing for love, long for just a touch.
The candles in the center of the table flickered, casting dim shadows against Ilias’s handsome face. They stared at each other, silent as church mice. Ara pinched his lips together, wishing he had the nerve to go for a single touch—a brush of fingers, a holding of hands… a kiss of the lips.
He swallowed hard.
“Dinner is served,” Ms. Sprigs announced.
Ara sat bolt straight in his chair. His pulse rushed a little more than normal. He tore his stare away from his employee and turned it to his housekeeper. If he just kept his eyes on her, then he wouldn’t think about touching or kissing Ilias. Right?
Last one. I promise. The writers wanted to share this except simply because it tugs at both our heartstrings. Ara wants so badly to have his old look back, not really his old life, because he likes the man he’s become thanks to Ilias, but he needs to be beautiful again. He needs it like he needs air.
As soon as he turned on the bathroom lights, his reflection in the mirror came to life. It stared back at him with intensity. His left eye still drooped a bit compared to his right, and the two or three missing lashes in the middle of his lid hadn’t grown back. It was silly to think they might’ve. The incisions had to heal first, after all. His lips still had a slight indention and his chin tugged when he opened his mouth or smiled. It honestly appeared as though nothing had changed, as if all the pain and time away from being intimate with his fiancé was for nothing.
He slammed his fist down on the vanity, head hanging from his shoulders. “Hey,” a soft voice said from behind him. “It’s not that bad.”
“Yes, it is, Ilias. It is that bad.”
“You’re not done healing. Give it a few more days.”
“Nothing’s changed. I thought….” He looked at his reflection again before turning his head away in disgust. “It should look a little better.”
“Ara, I don’t care about your scars.”
“I do,” Ara growled, shoving his way back out of the bathroom so he wouldn’t have to look at himself anymore. “They’ve taken too much from me. This is supposed to be over.”
“Among mankind there are many that deserve that name more than you, and I prefer you, just as you are, to those, who, under a human form, hide a treacherous, corrupt, and ungrateful heart.”
Ara frowned, turning his head back toward Ilias. “What is that?”
“It’s a quote from ‘Beauty and The Beast.’ After Beast says he’s a monster.”
“So… what… you’re Beauty and I’m the Beast?”
Ilias reached for Ara’s hand and forced Ara to face him again, but Ara couldn’t look him in the eyes. He kept his gaze downcast, not wanting to be a monster in Ilias’s eyes.
“I didn’t say that. But look at it this way…. Would you love me any less if I were the one scarred?”
“No, I… I couldn’t,” Ara breathed.
“Would you care more about how I look than the man I am on the inside?”
Ara shook his head. “No, the beauty inside you is what made me fall in love.”
“Then why is it so hard for you to realize that I love you for the man you are on the inside?”
“I don’t know.” Ara swallowed. “I want what I lost. I don’t want to be damaged anymore. I know you love me. I have no doubt about that, but I need this piece of me back. I need to… to not be sickened when someone stares at me. I need to not relive that night when I look in the mirror. I need… I need me back, Ilias. Do you understand that?”
“No, I’m sorry, but I don’t understand it.”
“That’s because you’re still beautiful.”
Before Ilias could make a rebuttal, Ara made an about-face and tore out of the bedroom. He couldn’t have this argument right now. He couldn’t look that absurdly beautiful man whom he loved with every inch of his being in the eye and have Ilias tell him that being scarred was okay, that no one cared. People did care. People stared. He was a monster, and right now, Beast needed to be alone.
Blurb:Ara Costas has it all—riches, power, and the kind of beauty that attracts all the right people. He’s flying high and loves his life, until a serious car accident leaves him horribly scarred. Ara becomes an angry recluse, hiding away in his Chicago high-rise apartment, running his multimillion-dollar business from behind a computer screen.
Ilias Adams is a quiet farm boy who keeps his nose buried in books. A great education and stellar resume land him a job as Ara’s assistant and liaison to the board of directors. Little did he know when he signed up for this dream job that he’d end up working for the world’s moodiest, most uptight boss.
Ilias is scared of Ara at times, but he recognizes the challenge he faces when he meets Ara and sees the reason for the man’s anger. Ara is guarded and suspicious, since he can’t believe anyone can bear to look at him. Despite all this, Ilias is determined to turn the beast into a beauty again, at least on the inside, and tear down the walls Ara has so carefully constructed around him.
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