ARC REVIEW: Beauty and the Besharam by Lillie Vale


Beauty and the Besharam
by Lillie Vale
Released on May 24th, 2022
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Romance, Retellings > Beauty & the Beast

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Heated competition leads to even hotter romance in this YA summer rom-com for fans of Sandhya Menon, Emma Lord, and Wibbroka.

Seventeen-year-old, high-achieving Kavya Joshi has always been told she’s a little too ambitious, a little too mouthy, and overall just a little too much. In one word: besharam.

So, when her nemesis, Ian Jun, witnesses Kavya’s very public breakup with her loser boyfriend on the last day of junior year, she decides to lay low and spend the summer doing what she loves best–working part time playing princess roles for childrens’ birthday parties. But her plan is shot when she’s cast as Ariel instead of her beloved Belle, and learns that Ian will be her Prince Eric for the summer. [Cue the combative banter.]

Exhausted by Kavya and Ian’s years-long feud, their friends hatch a plan to end their rivalry by convincing them to participate in a series of challenges throughout the summer. Kavya is only too eager to finally be declared the winner. But as the competition heats up, so too does the romantic tension, until it escalates from a simmer to a full-on burn.

Trigger/Content Warning(s): Grief, Child death, Chronic illness, Death, Infidelity


Disclaimer: I was provided a digital galley via Edelweiss+ for review purposes. This does not affect my opinion.

Beauty and the Besharam is a fun, addicting take on the classical Beauty and the Beast Disney fairytale edition. From start to finish, I was hooked on this book and unable to put it down, and I found myself wanting more upon finish.

Lillie Vale has crafted true teen-like characters within this story. Their mannerisms; the way they think, react, and adjust; the dialogue put forth. It all came together splendidly and made the story enjoyable for the age category it is directed at. The main character, Kavya, was exciting to see. Kavya is outgoing, outspoken and head-strong. She does not take no for an answer if it is the wrong one. Pushed forth by her rivalry with her estranged childhood friend Ian, she is determined to set the record straight that she will be the one to come out on top each and every time.

Throughout this book, Vale also made sure to include a complete cast of queer characters. Though it is not outright said, it is implied that Kavya is queer herself. And the handling of the side character’s sexualities and identities, I found, was done with care and consideration. Each side character–though made clear of what they identify as–still had a personality and goals outside of that.

Along with this, all of the relationships in this book were completely adoring and swoon-worthy. The friendship between Kavya and her “moon girls” and the oncoming issues that stemmed out of teenage jealousy and longing was extremely well-done. Their friendship was another focus in this story, and it did not get shoved into the background just because the romance took the forefront. It was very clear that Vale put the focus on both with a specific importance for each set in place, and I really loved to see that. Another thing that also came about was the estranged relationship between Kavya and her sister. There was a slight age-gap between the two of them, but despite that, they acted as any sibling pair would. It was nice to see a heart-to-heart also come up, as we do not often see that come into play in romance stories, and I feel it really added to the plot and character development of both girls.

To continue, the plot of this book was obvious from the start, though there were some twists and turns along the way. The tension that went on throughout this story was immaculate and will be at the top of my own list regarding rivals-to-lovers. While I do wish that the pacing was better toward the beginning and a bit at the end of the story, I was completely satisfied with how each conflict was handled.

Beauty and the Besharam, though quite clearly a contemporary teen romance, also has a lesson within it. Though Kavya was set on fighting her way to the number one spot, it becomes clear to her toward the end that maybe that spot can be shared and not dominated in the way she had originally thought and planned. It excites me when I am able to pick these small little lessons out of the story, and I am glad it was included.

Overall, I loved Beauty and the Besharam. Lillie Vale has quickly cemented this book into my favorites list, and for that, I give it a starred rating. I look forward to reading more from Vale and cannot wait to see what she has planned next.

Separators (1)

DELETESLillie Vale is the author of books for both teens and adults, including The Decoy Girlfriend, Beauty and the Besharam, The Shaadi Set-Up and Small Town Hearts, an American Library Association’s 2020 Rainbow Books List selection. She writes about secrets and yearning, complicated and ambitious girls who know what they want, the places we call home and people we find our way back to, and the magic we make. Born in Mumbai, she grew up in Mississippi, Texas, and North Dakota, and now lives in an Indiana college town. Find her on Twitter @LillieLabyrinth and Instagram @labyrinthspine, or visit her website

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