True confessions here- I’m a sucker for any story that is based on Beauty and the Beast my favoritist fav of the fairy tales. A promise of a Beauty and the Beast tale will always draw me in, but that does not mean that it will keep me interested or satisfied if the story or characters aren’t very good. Fortunately, when it came to this one, both story and characters along with the world building were pretty good.
Honestly, I’m not certain if this is futuristic/dystopian or parallel earth contemporary based on what I was getting from the background information. Hey, it even had a bit of a contemporary steam punk feel. Not that any of that matters really. The story is about a wounded and scarred Afghanistan Army Veteran who has turned his talents to protect a secret group who are going up against a mighty industrial-based organization who seeks to control everything on the planet for their own nefarious purposes.
Hauk remains mostly in the shadows due to the hideous burns scaring his face and much of his body along with the loss of his leg. he hates seeing the disgust and discomfort as others stare and then turn away. One night he rescues a burlesque dancer that has caught his eye from being captured. He blacks out and finds that he has brought Jolie back to their secret compound.
Jolie sees the terrible scars and flinches, but she is caught up in Hauk’s beautiful eyes and the brave, good man he is under all the disfigurement. She finds him the man that she wishes to rely on to help her rescue her niece who didn’t escape being kidnapped. Before she saw his appearance, she shared a passionate moment with him that far surpassed what she had ever had with anyone else. Even after seeing him, Jolie still feels the attraction, but isn’t ready to pursue it.
There is so much going on in this serial-like first installment of the story. There is the beginning of friendship and romance that have Hauk and Jolie dancing around each other, the secret plans of the industrial group, and the mysterious stuff surrounding Hauk’s abilities and things the bad guys can do.
The story wraps up one of the main plot lines, but leave several things tantalizingly dangling.
The characters of Jolie and Hauk are easy to like and to really root for that they can get together. Hauk is one of those strong ‘what didn’t kill me has made me stronger’ types that has never really gotten a good break and I really wanted him to have a chance with Jolie. Jolie is likeable, determined and I admire the heck out of her for seeing the good in Hauk, but with a loser boyfriend already (Why do perfectly sensible women tolerate this sort of guy? She should know he’s a loser because he’s a commit-a-phobe and not monogamous. So what if he’s easy on the eye- and um, yeah I’ll stop) and her ability to attract guys I really don’t want her to hurt him accidentally because she doesn’t strike me as the type to do it on purpose. He accepts his appearance and that he’ll never have someone like Jolie, but the poor guy does hope and dream terribly.
Jolie’s niece, Whitney, is the funnest sass. I loved her character probably the most outside of Hauk in this story, but Travis was a nice addition too. I don’t want him for Jolie, but he’s aces with me for how he accepted Hauk too. Something tells me that Travis will continue to play a role in the series because he’s got some of the qualities necessary to have someone’s back in a fight.
Can’t wait for the next installment to see what happens next with Jolie and Hauk. It’s easy peasy to recommend this one to those who love a steamy romance with a conspiracy and intrigue at the heart of the plot and/or for those who love any good variations on Beauty and the Beast.
I received this book as a request from Net Galley for review purposes.
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