This first of Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental magic books is a take on Beauty and the Beast, which takes place in turn of the 20th century San Francisco, just before the great earthquake.
Rose Hawkins is the daughter of a Chicago University professor, raised as a scholar, and therefore not quite ready to take her place as the typical well bred wife she’s expected to be. However, even this future becomes moot when her father dies, leaving her penniless. She unexpectedly, and fortuitously, receives an invitation from a wealthy man in San Francisco, who would like to engage her services in tutoring his two sheltered young children.
What Rose doesn’t know is that this offer comes from Jason Cameron, a Firemaster based in San Francisco, who due to his own folly, has been transformed partially into a wolf, and actually needs help doing the research to gain back his correct form. Rose, in her desperate circumstances, is the perfect person for the job.
The book’s based on Beauty and the Beast, so you can undoubtedly see where this is going next. And it’s a fun ride, with details of life in San Francisco, when it was hovering between an identity as a frontier city and an established bastion of culture.