When Bellamy McGuire is offered a summer job babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family, she’s reluctant to accept. After all, everyone in town knows about the mysterious happenings at the mansion on the hill—including the sudden disappearance of the Baldwin’s eldest son, Tate. The former football star and Golden Boy of Wellhollow Springs became a hermit at the age of sixteen, and no one has seen or heard from him since. Rumors abound as to why, with whisperings about a strange illness that has caused deformity…turned him into a real-life monster. Bellamy wants to dismiss these rumors as gossip, but when she’s told that if she takes the job she must promise to never, ever visit the 3rd floor of the mansion, she begins to wonder if there really is some dark truth being hidden there.
Tate’s condition may not be the only secret being kept at Baldwin House. There are gaps in the family’s financial history that don’t add up, and surprising connections with unscrupulous characters. At night there are strange noises, unexplained cold drafts, and the electricity cuts out. And then there are the rose petals on the staircase. The rose petals that no one but Bellamy seems to be able to see. The rose petals that form a trail leading right up to the 3rd floor, past the portrait of a handsome young man, and down a dark hallway where she promised she would never, ever go…
As Bellamy works to unravel the mysteries of Baldwin House and uncover the truth about Tate, she realizes that she is in way over her head, in more ways than one. Can her bravery and determination help to right the wrongs of the past and free the young man whose story has captured her heart?
Bellamy and the Brute is the first book I read in 2018, which is a promising sign for the rest of the year. I have read my fair share of Beauty and the Beast retellings and this novel brings some refreshing elements to the genre. Firstly and most importantly – I adore Bellamy. She is such a strong and no-nonsense yet relatable heroine. When Tate seesaws between being nice then being rude, Bellamy puts him in his place – not willing to ride the rollercoaster of his emotions at her expense. She knows her own worth and will not suffer his inconsistent treatment. She demands that he treat her with courtesy. I love seeing heroines who love themselves.
“Don’t touch me and stop saying my name. You don’t get to say my name… my name is too awesome for you! And you know what? I’m awesome too. I am a nice person. I didn’t do anything to deserve any of this. So do me a favor and leave me alone.”
“I am fully aware of how incredible I am.”
Having an admirable protagonist aside, the story has more to it than the developing relationship between Bellamy and Tate. We all know this tale as old as time and yet the author finds a way to add suspense. There is a genuinely disturbing supernatural plot entwined with a thrilling mystery. Bellamy and Tate do smart research and detective work to unravel the connection between his illness and the wrongs of the past. Conspiracies, corruption, unexplained deaths and … vengeful ghosts.
Lastly – I must mention another reason that I love this book so much – Bellamy is a heroine of color. Foremost, the story is well-done but representation does matter as well.