Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book Review: How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren

Title: How Beauty Met the Beast (Tales of the Underlight #1)
Author: Jax Garren
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: Out Now!
eISBN: B0092MPT80

Look at that cover. Isn't that the most enticing thing you've ever seen? I'll fully admit that I was drawn in by the kick butt cover that had a beautiful and strong looking woman on the cover that wasn't the typical "porcelain doll" perfection that you often see on romance covers. Well, that and I loved her outfit.

The Beast 

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. 

The Beauty

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? 

Now doesn't that sound cool? Not only do you have a book based around a burlesque dancer, but you also have an updated telling of Beauty and the Beast. Ok sure, I know that this is far from the first, but I really do love fairy tale re-tellings because most authors will put an interesting spin on the tale. That the "beast" in this one is scarred from fighting for his country is a nice twist because of what it might bring in the future of the trilogy.

First let me tell you the good. This has a good premise, that of an underground society, a rich girl turned burlesque dancer drawn into a conspiracy that applies to her more than she could imagine, and teasings of a potential romance between her and her occasionally rough savior Hauk. We're given a nice little sex scene early on in the book, which I'll warn you- is the only sex scene you'll get in this novella. There's some nice actions scenes here as well that occur later on in the book.

The bad? We don't have a huge amount of world building early on in this book. We're told some things, but by large this felt like it was part two of a larger series rather than the first book. I kept feeling like I was missing out on a lot, which kept me from getting as immersed in the book as I'd otherwise like. Every time I started getting really pulled into the story I'd read something about the Underlight in an offhand way, reminding me how little I knew about the world and reinforcing the "second book" feel. I think this was deliberately done so that we'd learn about the world along with Jolie and empathize more with her, but it just drew me out of the tale. I'd like to say that this wasn't a big issue, but I know that for some this will be a deal breaker. Some won't mind this, some will, and while I know that part of this was because of the huge secrecy requirements of the Underlight, it still bugged me. It also didn't help that at times we went from no information to total information deluge. I just think that if it'd been a little more spaced out info-wise, it would've made it a more even experience.

Overall though, this wasn't a bad read and I'll say that it's worth the two dollar "cover charge" to read. I've read a lot worse that I've paid a lot more for and despite feeling occasionally lost, I'm curious enough to see what will happen next.

3 out of 5 stars

(eARC provided by Netgalley)

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