Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.
But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to
be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.
With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.
“Be the best without trying to be better than the others.”
How much do you value your beauty? How much would you give to not be the most remarkable, most fashionable, most beautiful of all?
In the world of Orleans, beauty is valued above all else. The people there are naturally grey, ugly little shells of the gorgeous people they could be. The only ones with the power to change that are the Belles, Belles like Camellia who can change someone’s body shape, skin color, eye color, hair…and any other frightening changes to the body. To Camellia, being a Belle is everything, everything she’s ever wanted. But she soon starts to learn that there may be some more sinister things going on…
This world was so amazing and also disturbing at the same time!! The world building was really a strong point of the book! It was definitely a fantasy world–in what other world can people literally change the appearance of others??–but with everything going on, and the insanely intense desire to be beautiful, it felt a bit dystopian to me, which I really loved! The world was just so complex and well developed with so many things going on. I especially loved reading about the royal family, the king the queen and the princess, who are…not exactly what you would hope a royal family is!!
I really liked reading from Camellia’s point of view. I loved how she was always so sweet and willing to see the beauty in everyone. With everyone so obsessed with their looks, it seemed like she was a bit more pure, and I really liked that. I also liked how she was so determined to do the absolute best, but also not entirely bent on following all of the rules!
I really liked the relationship all the Belle sisters had as well! In the beginning, we get to see the girls interacting with each other, and when they were all together for a night in the Favorite’s place, I was just so happy 🙂
With that being said, there were a couple of characters who significantly hindered my liking of the book. In a word: Amber. Apparently Amber is Camellia’s best friend, the Belle sister that she loves just a bit more than all the others, and I was like…why? Amber seems horrible–so stuck up and righteous, and so determined that she is better than everyone else! Every time we had a scene with Amber, I was like…really? What now?
I really didn’t like the romance aspect and the love interest though. I’m a hopeless romantic, and usually romance is one of my favorite parts of books, but here I was just like…why? I didn’t see anything in the love interest–in fact, when Camellia annoyed me most was when she was with him. (See how I’m avoiding using his name? That’s literally because I forgot his name…yeah, he’s not that memorable). Their “chemistry” was pretty much non existent. I absolutely hate love triangles, but I really hope we can get a new love interest in the next book because this guy was so dull and annoying I was like please stop.
The ending of the book was incredibly intense and definitely my favorite part! I was so scared the whole time and I had no idea what was going to happen, I just had to know and then–and then it just ended!! Ahh I hate cliff hangers and I absolutely must have the next book pronto because what on earth is going to happen???