Buy Link: Fugly
Author: K.Z. Snow
Publisher: Liquid Silver
Length: Novella

Rating: 4 stars

I am a member of the M/M Romance Group over at Goodreads. Right now I am participating in a Bingo game/challenge where each week we need to read a book from a randomly selected category. After each member of our team reads and reviews a book, our team gets to check off that box on the card. So over the next couple of months, I will be periodically posting reviews of books I have read for the challenge.

I decided to participate because I thought it would be a fun way to push my reading envelope a bit and get me to pick up things I may not ordinarily read. This week definitely did that with the category “Based on a Fairy Tale.” I am not a big fantasy reader so I decided to pick one of the books that had a fairy tale basis but was still a contemporary story, which is how I ended up reading Fugly.

The story follows three men, Fallon Tate, Jake Pelletier, and Todd Heilman (aka the Hunt Club), each good looking but shallow.  They judge others by what they look like and are only interested in hooking up with guys who are hot enough to meet their standards.  One evening at a club, the men spot a Wow Guy and proceed to flirt, grope, and hit on him.  They don’t realize the man’s husband is watching, nor that earlier in the evening he heard them rudely critiquing all the guys based on appearance.

The next day the men each wake up with an ugly rash all over their face.  Strangely, not everyone can see the rash. Their doctors can’t cure it because they don’t see anything wrong.  Soon the men realize that the only people who can see the rash are those men they find attractive.  And suddenly these hot men who they were choosing only based on appearance are not so interested in them with their ugly rashes.

The book follows Fallon, Jake, and Todd as they learn to look at more than beauty in their potential partners. Each begins to see a different side to a man they had previously ignored as not up to their standards. And slowly they shift their focus from appearance to more important reasons for being attracted to someone.

So obviously this is the Beauty and the Beast story reimagined. I actually really like this trope and it is one of my favorites, especially in m/f historicals.  One thing that was interesting in this story is that most books with this trope focus more on the “beauty’s” point of view and how this person is able to see past the surface to the hero’s inner beauty.  But in this case, we are following things from the “beast” side as Jake, Fallon, and Todd are the ones learning to see beyond the physical and learn what it is like to be judged on appearance.

Another thing I thought was kind of neat were the men’s jobs (movement coach, editor, and mortician).  Each one had a job that involved transformation – taking something awkward, ugly, poorly written, dead, etc., and turning it into something new and more attractive.  I wish I could be profound enough to put it all together (hey, I am proud enough I even noticed it!), but I think there are some significant parallels to the story with their careers.

One aspect of the story didn’t quite come together for me.  The message here is clearly not to judge only by appearances  So on one hand, the men are learning to look beyond the surface of their potential partners to the real person underneath.  But only people who the guys find attractive (physically or otherwise) notice the rash.  So really, it is the men they want that are making the real choice here: do they still like our three guys despite appearances?  Our heroes technically could have found super hot guys they liked only for superficial reasons, and if those hot guys could look past the rash, no lesson learned, right?

Ok, I am probably overthinking this, as I am prone to do (ask anyone who has been forced to sit next to me at the movies!).  But in some ways the message of the book came through as “avoid the hot guys because they are shallow and go for the regular guys who will like you for who you are.” Which isn’t necessarily true.  Average looking guys can be shallow and hot ones can be sensitive.  I guess I just would have liked more of the responsibility to be on Fallon, Jake, and Todd to make the right decision and not on the guys they choose.
But, as I said, I am probably overanalyzing and I really did like this story.  I think Snow does a nice job of showing us why these guys were worth saving, and that they had redeeming qualities about them from the start.  I really liked David’s voice as the narrator and observer of the men, but also as a participant in the process (he has the hots for one of the guys).  And I thought the theme was woven in very well to a contemporary story without being too heavy handed.  Overall it was an enjoyable book and I am glad I was prompted to push my envelope into a new genre.
Cover Review: A
Love it.  Perfect wounded puppy eyes, nice glimpse of the rash.  Great job.