Source: Audible Romance Package
Publisher: Carina Press
Series: Tales of the Underlight #1
Narrator: Therese Plummer
Edition: Audiobook, 4 Hours 27 Minutes
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Purchase: Amazon / Audible / Barnes & Noble
Rating: 4/5 Stars
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?
How Beauty Met the Beast is the first in a series that takes the familier fairy tale and gives it a little urban fantasy twist.
The story itself is a mix of a contemporary thriller and a mysterious paranormal novel. It’s light on the fantasy and light on the steampunk, though they do play big roles in the novel but it doesn’t weight the story down any. It deals with some tougher topics like having a visible injury and the social impacts of that but stays light and fun. We even get some odd little hints that there is a lot more going on in this world than Jolie ever knew, maybe more than Hauk knew and he is more privy to the weird than normal. I really dig the background power struggle between the Underlight and those in the Order of Ananke. I do wish that we got a little more info on the Underlight as it seems really amazing, but I really look forward to seeing it explored more in the next book as Jolie becomes more acquainted with this hidden society.
While the setting and world might be a little gritty, the romance is super sweet. I love Jolie and Hauk together, and their banter once they let go of their nerves and insecurities is perfect. It starts out steamy but after that’s it’s a bit of a slow burn as they work up actually getting to know each other and figure out exactly how they feel, even by the books end they are still testing the waters. I read so may romance novels that all have their relationships’ beginning and end all in less than 400 pages, so it’s incredibly nice to find one that’s highly entertaining and paced in such a way that it draws out the romance just so.
Therese Plummer is a ‘new to me’ narrator and I think she did a wonderful job with Beauty. She has wonderful pacing and brings an energy to the reading that really hones in on those feel good moments.