Hello happy readers! So I didn’t have any new books to share this weekend but I did get some reading done so yay! One of the books I was able to finish is a new release I got thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, The Belles (The Belles #1) by Dhonielle Clayton. I didn’t know a ton about the book when I requested it just that I had seen it around on many anticipated reads sections and when I saw it the summary was rather intriguing so I wanted to give it a go.
Camellia is a Belle. She is one who is not born gray and dammed but full of color and able to control beauty in others. Beauty is a commodity and Belles are raised and trained to use their gifts to beautify. Camellia wants more than to be any Belle she wants to be the favorite chosen to serve the Queen of Orleans. When Camellia and her sisters arrive at the palace to be sorted to the proper slots it becomes clear there is much more to the world than they were raised to believe. Danger, intrigue, secrets and half-truths are everywhere including their own guardians. Their gifts may be more powerful than anyone realized and when propositioned with a request by the Queen herself to risk her life she is caught between pleasing the queen and trying the untried or save herself and her sisters.
So this book appealed to me in the form of seeing beauty as a commodity in a more literal sense. I am not the make-up type of girl mostly because I don’t have the patience to figure it out or the energy to do it but I love watching other looks and how they can be transformative. As many people base things on first impressions and looks (beauty) is how most people (women especially) are judged I was curious about this world.
The first start of this I was a bit concerned because I didn’t really like Camellia. She was vain and a bit selfish and it was harder to really feel for her character at first. I say this because as the story progressed I did grow to like her. There were moments where she felt just a bit static at times where later progress seemed to come out of nowhere so it was a bit out of synch to me. There was a bit of romance as well that just never felt viable for me so I wasn’t too invested though I feel I should have been. He even had some of my favorite lines. Another platonic relationship was nicely developed and had me invested but had a rather unsatisfying ending and the lack of concern to even ask about it bothered me a bit given the connection there before.
"I don't mind it. Sometimes it reminds me that I'm awake."
"Love is when hearts beat together."
That probably sounds like a lot of negative things but they were just little things and overall they didn't stop me from enjoying the story. If anything when I grew to care for Camellia it was even more rewarding. I did enjoy the slow burn and build of the story and how many different strings that started to tug and play their way into the larger picture over time. It was beautifully written and paced nicely keeping the suspense and danger building. We got to know many characters. I really enjoyed some of the ladies of honor, the other Belles, Remi, Bree and some of the royals and guardians and look forward to learning more about many of them and their roles in the future books. While you didn’t get to know as much about some they had their own uniqueness to them that had nothing to do with their beauty treatments. There is also much more to this world than beauty and my favorite moment is when Camellia is trying to help some see their own unique beauty that is there already. I have some theories about the next book and what I think this one has lead to. I felt some deeper meaning to beauty than what is on the surface and it deepened the story that much more.
I am excited to learn more about the world not in the court or high society but the regular every day markets and such which we only got glimpses of. I also look forward to getting to know more about the sisters and characters. While there were a couple moments with Camellia and Amber that felt a smidge off I am hoping at least one can be explained later. I am looking forward to the next book in this series.
Until next time…