Currently reading: Beauty and the Billionaire by Jessica Clare
Beauty and the Beast stories in romance novels rely heavily on injury or birth “defects” in order to make the Beast beastly. But the situation is generally that the hero believes himself to be a beast due to his appearance or pain, not that he’s actually a beast. The growing love of the heroine — in spite of his poor treatment of her, which she quickly sees through — is what teaches him that he is a valid person who deserves love.
We have all of these popular retellings of a fairy tale but in our versions, the beast doesn’t get to magically become a man with a perfect appearance. He must stay within the body in which he exists and instead learn to love himself as he is. Often, along with the love of his life, the most he is given is a new way to manage his pain.
We rejected the perfect fairy tale in favor of a human version where people learn and grow, but still get saddled with the unrealistic label.
Cinderella stories more frequently adhere to the original fairy tale formula, in which the heroine is rewarded for her goodness in the face of adversity with both love and wealth, but I’ve never known Cinderella stories to be half as popular as Beauty and the Beast within romance.