I don’t think I could be more excited than I am right now to be able to host today’s stop – the final stop – on the OF BEAST AND BEAUTY Blog Tour. I knew I was going to love this story from the moment I set eyes on the description. And I did. It was amazing!
The writing was absolutely gorgeous. The world was different and elaborate and so completely fascinating. The characters were ones I fell in love with, even though it may have taken me awhile to warm up to Isra. And the story, although a retelling, felt very much an original. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking. It was beautiful. And surprising. And memorable. And one I was not at all ready to say goodbye to.
But I’m not here to share a mini-review… or a longer one if I decide I must talk about the kissing – because, yes, there was kissing. I’m here to share a guest post by Author Stacey Jay about “Love or Duty.” A post which I am so glad she chose to write. A post that makes me both adore and admire the author even more than I already do.
And it’s a post that just so happens to be my favorite from the tour – yes, I checked out all the other stops. Though I am totally biased. So I’ll let you be the judge. Direct links to all the stops on tour are included in the Tour Schedule at the bottom of this post.
But if you haven’t yet taken a peek at the description or at this book’s stunningly beautiful cover, you may want to check them out before reading the guest post. They follow immediately below. And if you haven’t yet “met” the author, her bio and places to find her online are also below.
Oh… and if you would like a chance to win a copy of the book, if you’re in the U.S., there is an awesome giveaway included with this tour.
… And I’ve gone on way too long again in this intro. The “Love or Duty” Guest Post is so much more interesting, creative, captivating. So I’ll stop rambling and turn the blog over to the author.
About the Book
About OF BEAST AND BEAUTY
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…
In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.
Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.
As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.
About the Author
About STACEY JAY
Stacey Jay is a recovering workaholic (or at least working hard at recovering) with two small children, and a passion for playing pretend for a living. She’s been a full time mom-writer since 2005 and can’t think of anything she’d rather be doing. Her former careers include theatre performer, professional dancer, poorly paid C-movie actress, bartender, waiter, math tutor, and yoga instructor.
In her very limited spare time, Stacey enjoys cooking elaborate dinners and eating them very slowly, dressing up in costumes with her sons, and drinking wine with her husband. She loves to hear from readers and personally answers every single email she receives.
The Guest Post
Love or Duty
A wise man once said, “Love is a better master than duty.”
Einstein said a lot of memorable, true-feeling things, but this quote feels especially spot-on to me. I would even expand on Einstein’s statement by saying that love is not only a better master, but the only master humanity needs, and that any good duty will flow naturally from the highest expression of a person’s love.
This is a realization both Isra and Gem, Beauty and Beast in “Of Beast and Beauty,” come to during the course of their story. Both have been raised to put the welfare of their city or tribe before their own self-interests, but each must find their own truth (and highest love) in order to bring balance to their world.
For Gem, a Monstrous boy, duty means leaving his infant son behind to lead a raid on the domed city where the Smooth Skins live. It means putting the war for his people’s survival above his own personal desire for a life as something other than a soldier. His highest duty is to his people and that feels very true for him for the first part of the story.
For Isra, the future queen of the domed city, duty has never felt like an expression of love. The queens of Yuan are destined to end their lives as blood sacrifices to the magic that sustains the city. Isra’s mother fed the enchanted roses many years ago, and Isra knows it will soon be her turn to die so that her people may live. She’s been raised to believe that the sacrifice she will make is good and noble—a selfless expression of love—but she can’t silence the nagging voice inside that says a truly noble duty wouldn’t involve so much death and pain. She senses that the core of her duty is based in fear and violence, not love and generosity, and eventually gains the strength to question everything she’s been told is true.
During her quest for truth, Isra grows closer to Gem, her Monstrous prisoner from the desert. By the time she discovers the secret the nobles of Yuan are hiding, and realizes just how much she will have to sacrifice to be true to her love for her people, her friendship with Gem has already done much to change her perception of the world and her place in it,
As far as why I chose love vs. duty as one of the conflicts for this story, I think the Beauty and the Beast tale definitely has love and duty built into the story. Beauty offers herself in her Father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner, not because it is her duty, but because her heart won’t allow her to make any other choice. But she stays with the beast once her father is free because she has made a promise and feels honor bound (or duty bound) to keep that promise. I wanted to reflect those parts of the fairy tale in my Beauty and the Beast retelling, but I also think this is a topic that’s relevant for teen readers.
Growing up, we have so many people—parents, teachers, celebrities, religious and political leaders—telling us what it’s our duty to become, but none of those people are right all the time (and many of them aren’t right ANY of the time). It’s important to learn to observe the world through a filter of love, and make your own decisions about what duties feel right and true, and which are founded in cultural beliefs that may be toxic to you or the world around you.
Maybe “Of Beast and Beauty” will encourage my readers to think a little bit about the loves and duties in their lives. Or maybe they’ll just enjoy the love story. Either one is fine with me. Themes are all well in good, but I’m also really pleased with the kissing parts in this book. Kissing parts are some of the best parts of both lives and stories. (And you can quote me on that.)
Thanks for having me over to the blog, Fiktshun!
There is an awesome giveaway included with this tour for a finished copy of OF BEAST AND BEAUTY to TEN (10) winners!
Giveaway is US only.
Enter in the Rafflecopter below…
The Tour Schedule
July 15th – Icey Books – Guest Post
July 16th – About to Read – Review
July 17th – Paranormal Book Club – Interview
July 18th – Finding Bliss in Books – Guest Post
July 19th – Book Haven Extraordinaire – Interview
July 22nd – The Bookish Brunette – Review
July 23rd – The Happy Booker – Guest Post
July 24th – A Backwards Story – Interview
July 25th – Wicked Lil Pixie – Review
July 26th – Fiktshun – Guest Post