They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun, and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis―neighbors call her the Witch of Oldhouse―and the haphazard manifestations of her powers make her the subject of malicious gossip. When entertainer Hector Auvray arrives to town, Nina is dazzled. A telekinetic like her, he has traveled the world performing his talents for admiring audiences. He sees Nina not as a witch, but ripe with potential to master her power under his tutelage. With Hector’s help, Nina’s talent blossoms, as does her love for him. But great romances are for fairytales, and Hector is hiding a truth from Nina ― and himself―that threatens to end their courtship before it truly begins. The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal, and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon.
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What worked: Think Bridgerton with a dash of magic. Though Nina comes from money, her country charm is evident throughout this novel. That doesn't mean she's naive though. She goes for what she wants, which is the very thing etiquette books frown on. But Nina doesn't care. She loves collecting butterflies and beetles. And she wants to know more about Hector. Their relationship starts out very rocky. She's overeager to be around him. He is flattered by her attention, but nothing more.
Hector has a secret that involves Nina's cousin's wife Valerie. They were previously secretly engaged ten years past and he has come back to Loisail hoping to get her attention. His goals at first aren't the best and I thought more than a tad selfish, especially when it involves Nina. But the one that is downright selfish and cruel has to be Valerie. She basically leads Hector on, though she doesn't want anything to do with him. But she doesn't leave it there. She wants to crush, destroy him when she finds out he might have some feelings toward Nina. She states that Hector is hers and hers alone.
The relationship between Nina and Hector grows after the first half of the novel. There are many obstacles thrown their way that will test their affection toward each other. Add to this the whole Beautiful Ones rules on everything from etiquette to what to say, wear, and even what person to marry. But through it all the courage, spunk, and determination of Nina show that there is more to life than following rules.
The paranormal element of this novel is shown with Hector's performances and the simple tricks he teaches Nina. I kind of wanted more of the magic in this novel, but the ending of the novel doesn't disappoint.
Fantasy set in an 19th century world filled with intrigue, melodrama, and even magic. The Beautiful Ones is a good crossover for YA and adult.