I’m going to date myself here and say I used to love Beauty and The Beast. The TV show. I’ve never seen the movie. *ducks* What I like about this trope is the underlying message that beauty transcends the exterior. The notion of a beautiful person loving someone who’s… well, not is hard to resist. Also, I canna tell a lie I liked that the beast was gruff and brusque, warning people away from him but once beauty breached his defenses, he was a teddy bear.
Title: Hostile Beauty
Author: Vanessa North
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
From the Publisher
Recluse Andrew Eccleston wants revenge on the man who destroyed his face twenty years ago, Winnie Wexford–a vindictive state senator not above a smear campaign against Andrew. Andrew’s grateful for the help of his erstwhile brother-in-law, David, until the help turns up in the form of PR guru Levi Beaumont, Andrew’s every fantasy come to life.
Levi is beautiful, smart, and righteous. When his mentor, David asks him to take on a difficult client for the PR firm, Levi agrees, in spite of a very real risk to his career working with non-profits to get them the attention they deserve. He knows facing off against a powerful politician could destroy his career, but he agrees out of loyalty to his mentor. Andrew and Levi are thrown into tense proximity as they work to protect Andrew and expose Wexford.
As Andrew opens his tightly-guarded private life to Levi, hostility turns to respect, respect to passion, and the stakes go much deeper than career or reputation.
Andrew was in a accident in his 20s which scarred his face and some of his body. Since then he’s become increasingly reclusive throwing himself into work and trying to alleviate his loneliness in the gym. He’s business is successful while his personal life is non-existent save for his two dogs. His business needs PR help for a deal in progress which is where Levi comes in. Upon first meeting, they’re both attracted to one another after a fashion, but stifle it for the sake of their working relationship. But soon enough they’re both powerless to resist their smoldering attraction.
Levi is beautiful, generous of spirit and at one point is mistaken for a “sexbot”. He is never cowed by Arthur’s gruff demeanor which, I think, garners Arthur’s attention as much or more than Levi’s inexplicable attraction to him. Levi is plain spoken, confident and forthright about his affections.
“Maybe it was selfish of him, but he didn’t want perfect untried Andrew. He wanted the man who’d survived fire—his hostile beast.”
Their relationship progression is good, though there is a bit of instalove disguised as intense desire. As much as I can appreciate sexy times, Hostile Beauty lacked the emotional connection between the two MCs that I found and enjoyed so much about The Dark Collector. I never felt their connection outside the bedroom, that is. But, don’t let me lie to ya, the sexy times really are quite sizzling.
Paired with all that presence, that kind of strength could be explosive in the bedroom. Exactly the type of thing that usually flipped Levi’s switch. Sometimes, sex was just easy, just for fun. But the really great, really memorable sex was all heat and power, vulnerability and trust, and he couldn’t deny that putting himself into strong capable hands and letting go— that did it for him.
The dialogue is relatable but dry, mundane at times and I found my attention waning. There are some minor editing issues which didn’t detract all that much from the story. And I can’t believe I’m about to say this but… for a short the word “fuck” is used an alarming number of times-100. However, after reading The Dark Collector I gained respect for Ms. North’s use of language to create evocative imagery and with sentences like this:
“There were times he thought he caught the scent of his skin, or heard the timbre of his gentle laugh. Echoes of wishful thinking crowding the hallways of his brain.”
That respect has only grown.
Hostile Beauty‘s flaw, to my eye, is a general lack of focus. There are, in addition to, the story arc of Arthur and Levi three other sub plots which, honestly, detracted from my enjoyment. The business connection to the accident is still murky to me. I still don’t really understand the vendetta. There’s a long-standing feud of sorts between David, Arthur’s former best friend and Levi’s current boss, which never gets resolved adequately. For the sake of brevity, it felt rushed; it could’ve used another 20-30 pages to let things gel together.
It’s a nice, short, sexy, quick read. Great for a Sunday afternoon feel-good read.
Where to Buy
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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