I really disliked the first book in this series but I got lured into reading this one by the intriguing premise, low price and good reviews.
I should have trusted my gut, though, and skipped it.
I love "Beauty and the Beast" stories but the execution on this one is poorly done. Hunter is a very reclusive 30 year old billionaire who overhears a three minute conversation between Gretchen and the heroine from the first book in the series. Somehow, in that brief amount of time, he concludes that Gretchen is “bold and fearless” with a “smart mind and a sharp tongue” and she is meant to be with him. She begins to “haunt his dreams” and he declares that HE MUST HAVE HER. Because he’s so rich, he concocts a very expensive and ridiculous scheme to lure her into moving into his mansion for a month so he can be near her and win her heart. Once she’s in his mansion, though, he seems to forget all about his plan. He spends a lot of time getting angry with her, pushing her away and being a complete dick because he has scars (which are initially described as being on the left side of his face but two chapters later have miraculously migrated to the right side of his face). He firmly believes no one will ever love him because he’s so physically hideous. The “beauty and the beast” premise would have worked much better for me if he hadn’t been the one to orchestrate Gretchen moving into his house. His reluctance to enter into a relationship with Gretchen and rejection of all her advances would have seemed more organic and true if she had been unwillingly thrust into his life. Because he’s the catalyst, however, it seems like manufactured conflict to fill pages and build up sexual tension. Speaking of sexual tension, Hunter is a virgin and pretty damn pissy about it. Gretchen figures this out fairly early on and decides that she wants to enter into a relationship with him. She is drawn to his scars (of course) and wants to help him be less lonely. So what does she do? She barges in on him while he’s masturbating and gives him a blow job. Does Hunter figure out that this is pretty much a green light to proceed without caution with her? Nope. He continues to be surly and unreceptive to her flirting and sexual suggestions. Until suddenly he doesn’t and he becomes the aggressor. I found it all quite bewildering and hard to accept.
As a result, I didn’t like Hunter at all. His speech is stiff and formal. He never uses contractions and says things like “Do you not like the quiet?” or “I simply wore a jacket because it was pleasing to me to dress well.” I think the author was trying to reinforce how uncomfortable he is around people but the dude wasn’t born in 1817 in London. He grew up in America in the 1990’s and went to Dartmouth College. His speech pattern should be that of a normal 30 year old guy.
Gretchen is a lot more likable initially but then she takes a turn for the worse when she throws a dinner party to kick start Hunter back into society and force him out of his self-imposed exile. Once she became unlikable, I struggled to finish the book.
Reading other reviews for this book, though, I seem to be in the minority as it has lots of 4 and 5 stars. It must be that Jessica Clare’s style of writing and storytelling isn’t for me. I’m not getting lured into reading the next book in the series no matter how tempting the premise and price.