July 4th, 2010

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A Man of Stature by TrudiRose (PG-13)

Fandom Category: Beauty and the Beast
Pairing: Gaston/OFC
Fic Title: A Man of Stature
Author: TrudiRose
Link: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2068539/1/A_Man_of_Stature
Rating/Warning(s): PG-13, n/a
Genre: angst, romance, Harlequin, drama, AU
WIP?: completed, ~50,000 words

Why This Must Be Read:
First, I should note that this is a sequel to a fic called Just Rewards, which I'm not reccing. This fic stands alone, but if you want to read Just Rewards, you can find it on TrudiRose's profile. For a simple summary of the plot:

In Just Rewards the story of Disney's Beauty and the Beast veers in a very different direction than what happened in the movie and in the end, thanks to a return appearance of the Enchantress, Gaston is not the man he once was. Now he has ten years to learn to love a woman and earn her love in return or...well, you know how the story goes.

TrudiRose has a real gift for finding the human side of Gaston. Plus she's a fabulous writer (one of my favorite fanfic authors) with an impressive knowledge of her canon and a brilliant eye for clever parallels between the original story and her own works.

A Man of Stature highlights all of these talents, as a transformed Gaston sets off into the world, determined to find that woman who loves him and can change him back. Even if he has to chat up a hundred women a day! Every day! For years! Which is just one of the many things I love about this story -- Gaston is not the Beast, and he's not going to react to the curse in the same way. None of this hiding in a castle, waiting to die nonsense. Why, you almost never meet girls that way! Instead, Gaston makes a plan and sticks to it, through thick and thin and myriad disappointments and setbacks. Even after he meets the girl of his dreams, things don't go smoothly, which is my favorite aspect of the story. After all, even a changed Gaston is still Gaston, and there is no way his path to true love could ever run smoothly.

A unique, wonderful fairy tale adventure, perfect for anyone who has loved any version of Beauty and the Beast.
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Picture This by TrudiRose (PG-13)

Fandom Category: Disney's Beauty and the Beast
Pairing: Belle/Gaston
Fic Title: Picture This
Author: TrudiRose
Link: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2831327/1/Picture_This
Rating/Warning(s): PG-13, n/a
Genre: humor, angst, romance, Harlequin
WIP?: complete, ~125,000 words

Why This Must Be Read:
Picture this: a sheltered young woman finds herself wooed by a spoiled young man who appears at first glance to be a jerk, but proves to have hidden depths. Can she get over her initial bad impression and learn to love him?  Sounds like a romance novel, doesn't it? Or even the plot of Beauty and the Beast? What it actually is, is the plot of this fabulous story of how Belle and Gaston both grow up a bit (okay, Gaston grows up a lot) and learn to love each other as they are, not as they would wish each other to be.

I'll admit it, I only started reading this novel because it was huge and because the idea intrigued me. Man am I glad I did! TrudiRose does a brilliant job with this fic, from the writing (spot-on, with clever twists on canon dialogue), to the backstory (no Beast, but every character in town has a history, even if we don't get all of the details of each one), to the characterizations.

Characterizations: Disney's movie is good for what it is, but it is still directed for children and, as such, is very black and white. Trudi's fic is geared towards adults and thus she plays in shades of grey. Belle isn't perfect, for one thing. Even in the movie she's biased against those who don't read (and remember, in this time period the vast majority of the populous would be illiterate) and she is distinctly unimpressed with everyone in the village. Gaston, on the other hand, isn't completely worthless. He's a brilliant hunter and, yes, while he brags shamelessly, this does mean that he has a knowledge and familiarity with the forest that not many people can match. He also never backs down from a challenge and is highly loyal (even if he hasn't yet learned how to demonstrate that loyalty). Most importantly, he isn't a sociopath (as he clearly is in the movie).

Ahem. Anyway, by going deeper into Belle and Gaston's characters, Trudi succeeds in making both of them much more human and likeable.  I found myself totally invested in their rocky but burgeoning relationship, from Belle's attempts to turn Gaston into a great reader to Gaston's discovery that being nice makes him even *more* popular. By the end of the story, I was a little in love with Gaston myself and Belle has learned far more about understanding differences than she ever learned in the movie.

TrudiRose started this enormous undertaking with a simple idea: would it be possible to plausibly write a romance between Belle and Gaston? The answer is a resounding *yes*!