3 out of 5 scoopers
How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren
Carina Press (Nov. 19, 2012)
ebook: $1.99 (38,000 words)
Favorite Lines: “Even through the sheet she sparked with energy, with life. He brought his other hand up and slowly raked his fingers from her palm to her wrist and down to her elbow.” (p. 16, e-galley)
Scarred. Damaged. Living with a terrible secret. Agent of the Underlight Wesley “Hauk” Haukon has nothing left but the fight for liberty against the oppressive Order of Ananke. He’s starting to lose hope
and then he sees her.
Despite her night job as a burlesque dancer, grad student Jolie Benoit has always played the mostly good girl. That all changes following a scorching sexual encounter with a stranger whose face she doesn’t see. After she’s kidnapped by thugs and rescued by a man with a very familiar voice, Jolie becomes a pawn in a struggle she never knew existed.
Hauk knows he cannot have her, and resolves to protect his heart and his secrets. But as they work together and grow closer, he finds new reason to keep fighting. Dare he risk hope in a new life, one where Jolie can see past his ravaged face and where their friendship can grow into something more?
I knew from the get go that How Beauty Met the Beast was going to be a novella. I wasn’t sure how long 38,000 words would show on my nook. It turns out to equal 110 pages. For me, it was just long enough to whet my appetite and as soon as things started getting good the story was over. The good news is that it is part of a three story series and book two, How Beauty Saved the Beast will be released in February 2013.
I had a little bit of trouble staying in the world. I knew the hero was a member of an anarchist group called the Underlight. Then I read about him being a soldier who was disfigured fighting in Afghanistan. When you add in a steambike, metal leg/foot, and people who worship old gods (think Thor), you’ve got me thinking okay it’s a steampunk book. But then I considered the heroine who drove a Nissan coupe, has Celiac’s disease, and attended the University of Texas and felt like I was reading a contemporary romance. By the end I was thoroughly confused when it came to the world building, but satisfied by the introduction of two characters to one another and myself.
How Beauty Met the Beast is…different. It’s not bad, just not what I expected. The characters though, they are what hooked me. For example, it’s not the “norm” to have the heroine of a romance work as a burlesque dancer. The scenes in which she struts her stuff and belts out tunes before meeting the hero behind the animosity of a sheet hit home her adventurous nature. Hawk is introduced by his actions as well. The reader is shown Hawke on the run with a buddy and his willingness to sacrifice himself in order to protect his pal. We get to travel into his mind where he considers the reactions others have to his disfigured face and watch him have a healthy interaction with a beautiful woman before we are told the extent of the damage done to him. When the author gets descriptive and I’m able to visualize what this man looks like it’s too late to walk away thinking the man is “gross.” By then I’ve half fallen in love with the man.
Obviously there were parts of the story that I was invested in, however when the world which confused me is added to what felt like a third of one complete story, I’m left feeling so-so about it all. I like to read complete stories in one book. I think there are way too many series and trilogies floating around. Sometimes it’s necessary, but other times it feels like a reason to suck money out of readers. If the Tales of the Underlight trilogy unfolds the way I expect, the division will be a way to give the characters time to get to know one another. That’s understandable, but does nothing to absolve my irritation for a story that ends just when it starts getting good. That said, I don’t regret reading How Beauty Met the Beast and plan to read the next book in the series.