My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m very happy with this book. Well, not the supernatural parts of it because they almost bordered on the silly, but the rest – the parts where Hauk and Jolie carefully stepped around each other and unexpectedly found a rapport growing between them.
Hauk is a wanted man who has joined an underground group fighting against the corporates who run the world. This world is very reminiscent of ours, only with even more power allotted to the rich and a cult secretly running the world. It’s basically a world where all the conspiracy theorists are right and we’re blind to the subtle manipulations by the rich and powerful, and where governments are puppets in the hands of industrialists and media moguls.
So Hauk is on the run after completion of a particularly important mission and takes refuge with an associate who runs a burlesque club by night and is a desk-jockey by day. He sees Jolie there and is sadly smitten.
Jolie is an heiress and a rebel. She gave up ballet to please her proper parents and now after the death of her beloved grandfather she’s finally doing something she loves and finds exciting (albeit secretly).
After her performance, she ends up having an encounter with Hauk but never really sees him. When she asks his name, he tells her his first name, Wesley and leaves. She remembers his wide shoulders and gentle hands and imagines a handsome stranger.
But Hauk isn’t handsome. He has the kind of face that earns make-up artists their living on horror movie sets. He isn’t just scarred, he’s disfigured.
Soon afterwards Jolie gets kidnapped and Hauk *senses* someone getting attacked and runs back to the rescue. He sees the attackers trying to violate Julie and enters a berserker rage that ends in a lot of blood and a total blackout for Hauk.
The next thing he knows, he’s waking up to Jolie in his bedroom in the secret warrens of the Underlight having carried her there to safety and then refusing to let her go even in sleep. Fortunately his friends were there to ease Jolie’s panic at gaining consciousness in the arms of a blood smeared stranger.
When Jolie asks her rescuer’s name they tell him it’s “Hauk” and after a single glance at his face she’s glad that her first instinct was wrong, he couldn’t possibly be Wesley.
You can’t help but be pleased with the slow development of their relationship. It takes Jolie a while to get used to his horrific face but she’s a sensible heroine and doesn’t want to hurt his feelings the way she quickly realizes it must often have been trampled on by others.
She also chastises herself for immediately associating his disfigurement with evil. A monstrous man, a demon-man.
As the day passes and they talk and work together, they get to know each other, they surprise each other and then suddenly Jolie realises that hours have passed since she’d last noticed the glaring scars and pits on his face and body. She sees his beautiful eyes instead, his unexpected sense of humour and his gentleness.
So yeah, I kinda loved the way this story plays out (and will continue to play out for two more books), but the unfortunate side of this book is that it’s set in an urban fantasy world and the author seems to be severely uncomfortable with magical set ups or cults.
Also, these two keep talking during a break in! A break-in into the damned cult’s head quarter – and by that I mean the cult that runs North America! Who talks this much and this easily while sneaking into a high security building? Seriously.
And did I say the cult scenes were silly? Okay, so there. Loved the character development, loved the relationship building (though the girl needs to ditch her “I don’t believe in monogamy” boyfriend fast, or I might start throwing books at her), and loved that it’ll take Beast/Hauk a while yet to get Beauty/Jolie, but yeah…I wish magic hadn’t been involved.
Amazon link: How Beauty Met the Beast (Tales of the Underlight)