I am always a sucker for a Beauty and the Beast retelling and this book was no exception. I love a scarred hero, though I have to say this one is a bit different from the standard. Wesley doesn't have a rakish line across his cheek or merely an injured limb. His scars come from horrible burns. They have destroyed his face and completely taken one of his legs. Frankly, he barely expects women to be able to look him in the eye... he certainly doesn't think he'll find one who could love him.
Now, before we get too far into the review, I have to warn you: this is the first book in a trilogy. Do not expect a HEA. You will be disappointed. Instead, you have to look at it as a first installment... a first step toward love. It will still leave you wanting more. But you won't be blindsided.
So the story starts with an unlikely sexual encounter between our hero and heroine. Jolie is a burlesque dancer who catches Wesley's eye as he hides out in the club where she works. They flirt through a thin sheet backstage as she changes and they manage to hook up without her ever seeing his face. Shortly after, she is attacked and would have been kidnapped if Wesley had not sensed the danger and saved her. She slowly gets to know him as "Hauk," scars and all, having no idea he is the same man she dallied with at the club.
Wesley belongs to a super-secret organization that eschews technology. It turns out Jolie's dad is in the super-secret bad guy sect that Wesley's people fight. Jolie quickly has her eyes opened to the world around her. And develops a friendship and respect for Hauk.
This is no fast love story. Wesley is crazy about Jolie, but it is a bittersweet, unrequited love. And though Jolie is a good person --and manages to see past his scars-- she doesn't manage to see him as a love interest. Yet. My hopes are high. I really, really want Wesley to get the girl and I think she'll be worth the wait.
The sexual tension is good (and that sexy scene at the beginning was smoking hot.) But again, this is just the beginning of their story. In the meantime, though, I really enjoyed watching their friendship unfold against the backdrop of a pretty interesting world and premise.
I'll definitely read book two, to see where this story takes us. I just wish I had all three installments in hand, to read back to back.
Rating: B+*ARC Provided by Carina Press via NetGalley