Beauty meets Beast Who is the beauty and who the beast? In her enchanting take on the classic romance tradition, Teresa Medeiros's The Bride and the Beast poses that question and answers it on many levels.

Gwendolyn Wilder harbors an old secret that she believes her unworthy of her childhood love, Bernard MacCullough, the future laird of Ballybliss. And she's resigned that her voluptuous curves are no match for her worldly sisters' willowy attractions.

Likewise, MacCullough's torment over a deadly betrayal which killed his father and destroyed the life he'd known have made him into the legendary Dragon, denizen of darkness and shadows.

The dark demands of the Dragon terrify the villagers of Brigadoon-like Ballybliss. Unable to meet the Dragon's demand for gold, they offer up Gwendolyn as a virgin sacrifice. Within the walls of the ruined Castle Weyrcraig, Gwendolyn and Bernard must each confront the challenges of haunting pasts. Drawn to each other despite their fears, each sees in the other the purest love, born in childhood, and yet the greatest dread, that their scars are beyond redeeming.

Furthering the motif, the Dragon and his ally, Tupper, torment the villagers with hauntings designed to expose the Judas among them. The often darkly comic acts lead Tupper to his own deception.

As in every good romance fable, Gwendolyn must risk losing Bernard to save him from himself. And MacCullough must choose between avenging his past or building his future with his bonny bride.

Medeiros's bewitching tale flows like meadow mists, mysterious and brooding, before melting into the clear glowing sunlight of love and happily ever after.

Sandy Huseby writes from her homes in North Dakota and Minnesota. She is online at SHuseby@aol.com.

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