Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Nearly ten years ago, high-fashion model Adam Granger was in a life-altering accident that killed his twin brother and ended his modeling career. A few months later, he lost his parents to a yachting accident. Convinced he had nothing to offer the world, Adam retreated to the sanctuary of his remotely located house on the outskirts of a small Canadian town called Mission City. He goes to the doctor, does the bare minimum to maintain his health, and got a puppy. It is so far from the jet setting life he once had, but to Adam, it seems like more than he deserves. However, money has started running tight and, without any employable skills, Adam isn’t sure how to make ends meet. Luckily, his neighbor Maddox meets a man from Australia who’s on long-term assignment to Canada and looking for a place to board.

Armed with a degree in forestry management, Australian Dean Hargrave is beyond excited to spend the next six months on the opposite side of the world in Canada. Not even his would-be landlord canceling his lease puts a damper on his spirits–not when his new friends Maddox and Ravi hook him up with a room at the house of their friend Adam. The offer comes with some rules, like don’t ask questions, don’t google the man, and don’t take it personally if–or rather when– Adam gives Dean the cold shoulder. In fact, during the perfunctory house tour, Adam tells Dean in no uncertain terms when he is allowed (and emphatically is not allowed) to be in common areas. Dean chalks Adam’s caginess up to the disfiguring scars that covered half his face and more. But he cannot understand why Adam lets the scars define him. So when Adam himself breaks his own house rules, Dean is definitely up for getting to know the mysterious Adam better. With enough time, patience, and clearly communicating he’ll go at Adam’s pace, Dean begins to see a future for himself out in the Canadian wilds.

The Beauty of the Beast by Gabbi Grey is both a part of the multi-author Ever After series and Grey’s own Love In Mission City series; it can absolutely be read as a stand alone, but if you like the supporting cast, several characters’ stories are showcased in separate books. The Beauty of the Beast is set in modern day Canada and features one grumpy Canadian who survived a horrific car accident that left him with burns on half his body and one sunshiney Australian who loves meeting and befriending even the prickliest of people. With the narration switching between Dean and Adam, the chapters fly by, while giving insight into each character’s inner thoughts. There’s clearly a grumpy/sunshine or opposites attract (introvert/extrovert) trope and a little bit of an age-gap with Dean being younger by about 9 years.

I was chomping at the bit for some classic get-together romance with a bit of spice and this story does not fail to deliver. Both Adam and Dean can acknowledge to themselves that they are attracted to one another. Adam’s narration and the way Maddox and Ravi set the scene make it clear that he suffers terribly from survivor’s guilt. There is a lot on page to reinforce the idea that Adam truly lives like a recluse up on a mostly secluded mountain. In contrast, Dean initially tries to tamp down on his attraction because Adam is basically his landlord and clearly gives off “do not touch” vibes. Thanks to Adam being unable or unwilling to be an absolute stickler on a timetable he designed to minimize contact, he and Dean end up spending more and more time together.

The romance aspect of the story felt like long stretches of simmering sexual tension punctuated with messy boil over blowjobs before we go back to more simmering. There was a lot of build up to Adam and Dean engaging in sex for the first time. An awkward admission of virginity, tacit reminders that Adam wants half his body off-limits, and many unresolved emotions leave both of them confused about whether they hooked up or made a deeper connection. Adam’s reluctance/refusal to believe he could actually satisfy a partner helps keep things going in circles for a bit. Dean, fearing he’d rock the boat, lets Adam call the shots about whether and if they explore more. For both the characters and me as a reader, this made their intimate scenes nearly as angsty as they were spicy.

While Adam and Dean seem to be on the same page in terms of a physical relationship, their emotional connection didn’t feel quite as strong at first. Part of that is clearly because of how Adam processes being around another man romantically post-accident, but part of that I think is due to differences in the characters’ developments. Adam’s personality felt like it was defined very strongly by his accident. I think it’s clear he’s not the same person he was before the accident, but rather than seeing him as someone who has grown and changed, he comes across as someone unable/unwilling to move on from tragedy. Dean, on the other hand, nearly sparkles as someone who is super personable, passionate about his work, and incredibly friendly. I loved seeing these two come together and it was easy to see how Adam would fall for Dean, I just wanted to see more of what Dean saw in Adam as it was happening.

Overall, The Beauty of the Beast is a pretty feel-good, mostly low-drama get together story. It features a strong grumpy/sunshine pair and takes the reader on a journey where one man learns to live again. If you enjoy stories about finding The One despite the odds, or love Beauty and the Beast retellings, then I think you’ll really enjoy this book.