Till the Last Petal Falls by Elizabeth Rose

Book Trailer:
Jolee Bellissa is a 21 year old English major graduate living with her soon-to-be penniless inventor father, Moe, in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. All that's waiting for her in this 'bubble' of a town is a relentless suitor, Gage Aristade son of a rich accounting CEO and notable playboy, and a part-time job at the local Tattered Cover. When she sees a job listing for a literature and poetry tutor for a shut-in adult student in Aspen, room and board paid with a $4000 a month stipend, she figures she has nothing left to really lose. 

Adam Emile is a 33 year old eccentric artist, whose paintings' beauty is only matched by their disturbing choice of focus. Scarred by a horrific childhood and holed up in the mountains to keep from embarrassing his wealthy and famous father, he is beginning to lose all sense of reality. As a last resort, his personal nurse Chip has put out an ad on Craigslist, under the guise of tutoring, for a new friend for his patient. Will the beautiful young woman who answers the ad change Adam and break the curse of his mental depravity? Or will the secrets he harbors drag them both into madness?  A dark twist on the beloved story of 'Beauty and the Beast.
This is a modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Only this version is much darker than any previous rendition I've read. Till the Last Petal Falls deals with child abuse in all its horrific forms, as well as domestic violence and self-mutilation. The main character, Jolee, is born beautiful and cannot believe that the people around her are genuine. The richest and most handsome man in town is set on having her, but the beast in the book isn't what you would expect him to be, as in the fairy tale, which makes this version an incredibly great read.

Jolee is a twenty-two year old who comes across a job offer too good to pass up: a great paycheck for tutoring a recluse. She takes the job and leaves her home for two years with high hopes, and soon envisions herself saving the master of the house solely with her love. And the longer she stays locked away from the outside world, the more she falls in love with her student ten years her senior, and the more she falls under his spell failing to see the telltale signs of the abuse he is giving her.

The faults of the abuser is with that person alone, never the victim, even when abusers have been abused themselves as children. The story has a running theme: accept responsibility for your actions and be honest with yourself. The best line in the book comes from an expected visitor during an especially dramatic point:
"Trauma does not create a monster. A man always has a choice."
Jolee fights for a long time to win over a violent man's love and to be loved in return. In the end she realizes that the only person she can truly change is herself, and she digs deep to finally see the abuse she has gone through. It is only after this does she open herself to love, and with the most unlikely person.

This was an exciting read. I love retellings of old fairy tales, but this one had characters that were much more flawed and much more vulnerable. Their hurts were genuinely described, in sometimes gruesome detail. I especially enjoyed the author's choice of not using the basic template of Beauty and the Beast: the beauty doesn't just save the beast with her love, she must first accept herself before she can love. That is the most important lesson for any young person to learn from any tale, modern or fairy.

This book deals with domestic abuse. The author is doing her part by bringing awareness through this story and helping out by donating a portion of her royalty sales of this book to battered women’s shelters in Colorado, the setting for the novel. For information on the author’s projects and the donation status, visit Elizabeth Rose ‘Till the Last Petal Falls.

Book Information:
Disclosure: This book was provided by the author and any opinions are my own.

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