Seventeen-year old Celine Rousseau arrives in New Orleans in 1872. Looking to leave her dark past behind in Paris, Celine boards a ship to America to reinvent herself with the help of the Ursuline convent. But when she arrives in America, Celine finds that the city of New Orleans is nothing like she imagined. She becomes enamored with the city’s glamorous parties, delicious food, and lively atmosphere.
After one of her fellow sisters at the convent is murdered by a serial killer, Celine finds herself sucked into the underworld of New Orleans, known as La Cour des Lions. As she falls for the society’s handsome and fearless leader, the elusive Sebastien Saint Germain, Celine uncovers the deadly secrets of New Orleans…realizing along the way that nothing about this city is as it seems. She discovers an ancient feud between members of the underworld, and that her new friends may be less human than she thought.
When Celine becomes the murderer’s latest target, she turns to Sebastien and Les Cours des Lions for help in capturing the murderer. Will she uncover the killer’s identity before it’s too late?
The Beautiful was….average. Don’t get us wrong, the book’s plot development and setting captured our attention immediately. Ahdieh did a fabulous job of world building and we can tell that she did her research on 1870s New Orleans. The cultural references were spot-on, and we really felt that we were traveling back in time with Celine to 1872. Moreover, the book touched on themes of racism and sexism in 1870s New Orleans, which we really enjoyed and felt played an important role in furthering the story and character development. Her attention to detail and history should be commended and definitely did not go unnoticed.
All this being said, the plot did drag at times, and it did not entirely pick up until three-quarters of the way through the story. Also, the love story between the main characters felt a bit insta-lovey, but it was not nearly as bad as other YA books. Celine was a witty, independent, and strong female protagonist, and we truly enjoyed her narration. Her chemistry and banter with Bastien was great, and really added to the development of their love story. Also, we can’t help but mention Michael Grimaldi, the dashing and charming detective in charge of solving the murders. Michael and Celine also had incredible chemistry, and we are excited to see where their relationship goes in the next book.
We were a bit conflicted on how to rate this book. We loved the world building, Celine’s character, and the shocking twist at the end of the story. Don’t get us wrong, we definitely are going to read the second book after that ending— who wouldn’t?! But she could also have done without some of the insta-love moments and the unnecessary chapters that made the book drag out. Hopefully Ahdieh removes some of the fluff in the next book.