I adored this gem of a gentle romance. It reads like a grown-up YA with just the slightest touch of magic. Intricate characterization drives the story of three flawed people chasing love, revenge, and possession. The fictional city of Loisail and the mannered culture of its moneyed class (the beautiful ones of the title) has that taste of realism that is so hard to cook up. Reading felt like glimpsing a full world instead of simply scenes created for the purpose of the story.
I enjoyed the deliberate pacing, although others might not. My attention never wandered from Nina and Hector and Valérie. If I have one marginal critique, it’s that Hector wasn’t always totally convincing as a man who could earn the obsession of two beautiful, intelligent women. He was handsome and unique in his abilities, although he moped a lot. I did believe that both Nina and Valérie could love him, and I loved the book.