Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: How Beauty Met the Beast

How Beauty Met the Beast (Tales of the Underlight #1) by Jax Garren

This short novel is very, very tricky. I keep trying to think how to place it and the solution eludes me.

It's a bit of a fairytale retelling, a very much all growed up Beauty and the Beast. But I can't quite call it that. There are some steampunkish elements, but that label doesn't work either. There are some romantic elements, but if I called this a Romance it would imply certain traditional tropes that just aren't here. There is action as well as a bit of magic too, along with mysterious societies and a secret war. So, an Urban-Fairytale-Steampunkish-Romance-Fantasy.

Hauk is a horribly scarred veteran of Afghanistan, and is sure that no one will ever be able to look past his scars. He devotes his energy into helping the Underlight, a secret underground community, against the evil Order of Ananke (whose members control the media, governments, and in general try to take over the world).

Jolie is an heiress who is thumbing her nose at her family by working as a burlesque dancer. She is attempting to live her life on her own terms, and is in an open relationship with a musician. After her first show, she has a steamy encounter through a curtain with Hauk (although she never sees his face). Later, she is almost kidnapped when a monstrous looking man with a familiar voice rips her assailants apart. Soon she is in an underground community and is learning more about her family's ties to the evil Order.

There is some action, a little flirting, but not much else in the romance department, and we do have an annoying teenager (who is thankfully kept to a minimum). This isn't an "after a night Jolie can look past all of Hauk's scars and they are in love the end". Nope. She does get used to his scars and starts to appreciate Hauk, but there are still 2 books to go in this trilogy.

It's a really quick read, and I was intrigued by the world and the assorted characters. I like Hauk. I think most Romance fans will love the tortured Hero who feels he'll never have anyone love him. Jolie is a bit tougher to like in that respect, because Hauk is so sympathetic, but I did think her reactions were realistic, and she showed some growth. I wish we had seen more of the Underlight and its inhabitants. Hopefully in book 2 we will.

When I say quick read, I mean quick. This is a short novel, and there will likely be folks saying, "Where is the rest?" You know I'm good with short stories, and since I knew going into it that there would be more than 1 book, I'm OK with the short installments.

[received an arc to review]

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