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