How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren
Series: Tales of the Underlight #1
Published by Carina Press on November 19, 2012
Genres: Fantasy Romance, Romance, Steampunk
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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?
This is a hard book to review.
It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I’m thinking that it is closer to the original than the Disney version.
IIRC Recap of Beauty and the Beast
The Beast was originally a prince who was beautiful but rude, mean and nasty. He was cursed to be a Beast until he could find someone to love him as a Beast.
Fast Fwd a few years…
Beauty’s father was caught stealing a flower from the Beast. He demands someone in return. Beauty finds out what happens and decides to go in place of her father. She goes to the Beast’s castle and he makes her the mistress of the castle. Beast and Beauty begin a friendship. He gives her luxurious clothes, great food, good conversation, etc. Basically everything she could want. Every day he asks her to marry him and she declines.
After a period of time she gets a chance to go home to see her family. She tells them of how wonderful her new life is. Her [jealous] sisters decide to talk her into staying home for longer than she was given leave. They hope this will piss of the Beast so he will eat her. She stays for a week or two longer than she is supposed to. Then she dreams of the Beast dying alone…pining for her.
She goes back to the castle where she finds him in the garden dying. She begs him to live and to marry her – she realizes she can’t live without him.
Once she agrees to marry him he turns back into a handsome prince. They get married and live HEA. Except her bitch-sisters…who are turned into statues.
So, this is where we are starting from with How Beauty Met the Beast.
In this retelling Beauty is Jolie Benoit. Jolie is a burlesque dancer and the youngest daughter of a media mogul (ex: Rupert Murdoch). The Beast is Wesley “Hauk” Haukon, a severally burned and scarred ex-Army Ranger.
The story starts with Hauk and a friend being chased by some bad guys – part of a group that is run by Jolie’s father. In order to escape they drop by a (I hate to call it a strip club…) burlesque club that is run by a friend. Performing at this club is Jolie. Hauk gets a chance to see her perform and he is entranced.
After Jolie’s performance he goes to the back of the club to catch up with his friends when he runs into Jolie backstage. Jolie is changing clothes behind a white sheet. Hauk walks up to the sheet and they strike up a very short conversation that culminates in Hauk performing oral sex on Jolie through the sheet. They never actually touch or look at each other but Hauk brings Jolie to orgasm.
Afterwards Jolie is almost kidnapped and raped. Hauk saves her but she doesn’t realize that he is the same guy who ate her out via a sheet. The next day Hauk and Jolie find out her 12 y/o cousin Whitney was kidnapped at the same time. Hauk abandons his position in the Underlight for a time to assist Jolie in locating and rescuing her young cousin. It is assumed that Jolie’s attempted kidnapping (and attempted rape) and her cousin’s completed kidnapping is done to force her father in to publishing (via both TV news and Newspaper) some false story that would change the possible outcome of a major political event. The best example I can give is to imagine Rupert Murdock’s young granddaughter is kidnapped in order to have Rupert Murdock publish false information to influence the US Presidential election.
I really liked this book…but I also disliked it as well. I loved Hauk – he has been through so much and has so little. He’s such a great guy. I also liked quite a lot about Jolie. I loved that she had a gluten allergy and I loved that she was a burlesque dancer. She seemed to make her mind up quickly and didn’t come across as a helpless damsel in distress. I also loved the fact that she seemed to own her sexuality. She made no excuses for it and I ♥ that.
I did find myself rolling my eyes at the single “sex scene” in this book – the “through the sheet” cunnilingus between Hauk and Jolie. Jolie…just didn’t come across as the type of woman who would let a strange man touch her so intimately without even seeing his face. Another eyeroll inducing part was the situation near the end with Whitney (12 y/o cousin) running her mouth at 10 miles an hour felt…very forced and false. There were so many things wrong with that scene that I gave some consideration to putting the book down for a few days to get over my irritation.
A handful of people have shelved this book as Steampunk. While there is some mention (very little) of magic, this is not Steampunk. This is a contemporary romance that has some magical elements. Hauk and his friends are in an organization called the “Underlight.” From what I could decipher the Underlight is an organization that does not agree with the current state of personal technology (internet, cellphones, etc). They live a life free of these type of technological implements underground. That’s about it. And that’s not Steampunk.
I enjoyed this story for the most part. I was excited about having a hero that had to deal with some of the real horrors that come with being a soldier. So often Romance heroes that are [ex] high ranking military have managed to have no body damage. That’s just not statically possible so I really appreciate the realism of the fact that the hero is scarred. It reminds me (very, very little) of the story of our American solider Taylor and his wife.
Most of the story plays out pretty nicely.
What killed this book for me (and dropped it from 4 to 3 stars)was the ending. This is a serial…though there was no warning that it was part 1 of 3 in the blurb. There is no HEA. There is no HFN. There is just an ending of “we’re friends.” When you are expecting an HEA…that is a rather rough ending to take.
Book two (How Beauty Saved the Beast) is not due until February 2013. I was a lot more interested in buying and reading this book…until I realized there is a part 3 How Beauty Loved the Beast due out in May 2013. *facepalm* Seriously???! I hate serials. The jury is still out on if I will read parts 2 &3. We’ll see.