The Beautiful starts with Celine fleeing Paris, sailing to New Orleans with Pippa, her best friend, to live at a local convent.
Celine, by the way, is one hell of a dressmaker. So amazing in fact that she catches the eye of Odette, a stunning woman who hires Celine to make her a dress for an upcoming party.
Oh, and by the way, we love Odette.
Anyway, Celine agrees to come take Odette’s measurements later to begin work on her dress. But because Pippa is the best friend ever, she agrees to go with Celine. And down the dark streets of New Orleans they go…
UNTIL, that is, they stumble across some sus ongoings in a dark alley. That is, two fellows beating up a third fellow, and Celine isn’t having it. This is where we meet Bastien (Sabastien, technically.) The sparks between them? INSTANT.
And that’s what we call chemistry.
Anyways, after that incident, Celine and Odette venture onward to the address Odette gave them, which turns out to be Jacques’ (read: VERY fancy restaurant.) There, they’re led to upstairs room to an exclusive party and meet Odette.
We should mention that everyone in this room is drop dead gorgeous. Odette casually mentions they all have magical abilities btw. Welcome to the Court of Lions.
Which begs the question, what is Odette’s? Turns out, she can read a person’s future if she touches them. Oddly enough, she says she can’t with Celine.
OH OH OH BUT WHO ENTERS NEXT? Yeah, that’s right, Bastien. And that means it’s time for some banter between Bastien and Celine that makes us instantly fall in love with both of them.
Until everyone hears a scream and the flirty convo is sort of cut short…
Because as it turns out, there’s a murderer on the loose, and they’ve killed Annabelle, who Celine and Pippa know from the convent.
As you can imagine, it’s not long before the police show up–including Michael, a well-known detective. Things are looking a little suspicious, of course, given that Celine and Pippa are out in the middle of the night, and that Annabelle followed them…
The next day, Celine waits for Michael to show up and get her and Pippa’s full story of the night before. Only, Arjun comes a-knocking instead. In case we forgot to mention, Arjun is the second fellow that Celine and Pippa met on their way to Jacques’ the night before, aka Bastien’s best friend. And apparently, legal counsel now. The interview is *interesting*
Celine and Odette dine at Jacques’. Alas, Bastien walks in in time to hear Celine reluctantly share that she thinks he’s *kind of* gorgeous. However, as Celine does NOT appreciate eavesdropping, she gets up and walks home.
But honestly, Celine has to deal with a lot these days, so are we really surprised something sinister decides to stalk her on her walk home?
Bastien shows up and the creature disappears. Then they have A MOMENT and we’re just about screaming at them KISS ALREADY at this point.
They continue to walk around until they encounter a Mardi Gras parade a few streets over. These two crazy kids FINALLY start talking and realize they are both attracted to each other. Celine decides they aren’t good for each other and insists they be friends, which Bastien respects.
Later that night, Celine works on Odette’s dress. All is going well…until Celine witnesses a second murder. The creature–maybe the one stalking her earlier that night–has killed the gardner.
Celine is told she must find somewhere else to stay since odd things have happened since she arrived. It takes about two seconds for Odette to offer Celine a place to stay (because, I repeat, we love Odette and she’s the best.)
But who else offers? FREAKING MICHAEL. Hmm.
Celine by this point has had enough of the evil creature stalking her and decides its time to bait him. She agrees to stay in the old hotel owned by Odette’s family and wait for the killer there.
But before that, Celine needs to speak with Bastien, and so she accepts an invite to a party from Odette which he’s likely to attend. Eventually, they find each other and end up back at the hotel. They kiss, but the moment is sort of ruined when they find a third dead body there. This time? Nigel, who is a part of the Court of Lions.
Celine agrees to stay at the police station as the hotel is clearly not safe. Michael stays as well. Celine meets his grandmother and cousin who stop by with food. It isn’t long before it’s made a little too obvious Michael has feelings for Celine.
Later that night, Celine sneaks out to meet Bastien. Instead, she finds someone else: his uncle, Nicodemus, along with the Court of Lions. Nicodemus makes her a deal: if she rejects Bastien forever, he’ll give her whatever she wants.
The next evening, Celine heads to the masquerade ball, wearing a dress she made herself. It isn’t long before Nicodemus finds her and wants to know if she’s accepted his offer. She plays along, demanding three things: an apartment, a dress shop, and the guarantee that she will be the one to tell Bastien.
Celine goes out to the balcony to wait for Bastien…until she feels a sharp bite on her neck and everything goes black.
Odette and Bastien search frantically for Celine.
Celine wakes up in the Saint Louis Cathedral and faces who brought her here: Nigel. Not dead. ALIVE AND EVIL. Oh, and it turns out: a vampire.
He explains his plot to kill Bastien and destroy the Saint Germain family–and he’s using her to lure Bastien in.
Enter: Bastien. Pissed and holding a revolver. But he isn’t the only one with a weapon; Celine is hiding a dagger in her dress.
Nigel threatens to kill Celine unless Bastien drops the revolver. He does so, and before it can go any further, Celine stabs Nigel in the neck with her dagger.
Now, remember, Nigel is a vampire and unfortunately not super easily killed. He and Bastien end up in a fight that renders Bastien nearly dead and Nigel on the verge of an escape. Until, that is, the Court of Lions shows up with Nicodemus.
Nicodemus knows Bastien’s only chance is to be turned into a vampire, but refuses. Celine swears she’ll do anything for him to save Bastien, and he agrees, on a condition: Celine must give up all her memories of Bastien.
I KNOW RIGHT?
The next thing we know, Celine is waking up with a lot of missing memories. Michael is at her side.
In the end, it’s revealed who was ACTUALLY stalking Celine and Bastien: Bastien’s sister. Emily. While we learn she died many years ago earlier in the book, we now realize she’s back and out for blood. Not as a vampire, but as a werewolf. And she’s not the only one. Luca, Michael’s cousin, is too. And we know book 2 is about to get INTENSE.
The Damned just hit shelves! Check out the rest of the amazing reads hitting shelves this month here