How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren
Series: Tales of the Underlight #1
Source: Review copy from publisher
Book one in Tales of the Underlight
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?
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How Beauty Met the Beast is the first novella in the Tales of the Underlight trilogy. Coming in at 38,000 words, it’s a nicely packaged introduction into the world Jax Garren has created. It opens with a super sexy encounter between Jolie and Hauk — one of the steamiest, hottest scenes I’ve read in a while. At first, I was really surprised since it comes out of the blue but it definitely lets you know that Jax Garren isn’t writing your typical story. This isn’t just some retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story (like the one airing on the CW right now). Instead, it takes the basic concepts — a beautiful woman and a physically scarred man — and uses them as a foundation to build a really interesting story.
Hauk and Jolie come from very different worlds. Jolie comes from a privileged background while Hauk’s is military. Jolie is very much a free spirit while Hauk is more withdrawn, partially to hide his appearance. They’re complete opposites and it was really fun watching them come together. Readers, be warned, though: this is very much the start of their journey together, not the complete story.
I also found the setting to be really great. I thought the concept of The Underlight was neat — a sort of commune for people who are fighting a powerful cult called the Order of Ananke. Hauk is one of their agents and it’s through him that Jolie is introduced to the Underlight.
How Beauty Met the Beast is more like an introduction to Hauk and Jolie and the Underlight, rather than a complete story. The story arc is completed but I ended the novella wanting more, so I was quite happy to hear that it was the first story in a trilogy and that the rest of the trilogy would be released in relatively rapid succession. I snagged a review copy of the next story, How Beauty Loved the Beast, and I can’t wait to see what will happen between Hauk and Jolie in this novella.