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Radiant Shadows

How Beauty Met the Beast (Tales of the Underlight)

How Beauty Met the Beast - Jax Garren A classic fairytale with a supernatural twist that manages to honour the original in spirit, How Beauty Met the Beast was a surprisingly warm-hearted and fun contemporary romance, with light fantasy elements. Combined with some steampunk-esque references and the promise of corruption and government conspiracies, I was held captive from page one!Set in a futuristic Unite States, where greedy corporations dabbling in the supernatural control almost every aspect of life, there are those living in resistance – the Underlighters. Determined to restore power to the people, they live off-the-grid: using typewriters and steam-powered tubing systems to send “texts”, working via candlelight, reusing and repurposing every material and living off the land as much as possible. My only real issue with How Beauty Met the Beast was the lack of detail surrounding the Underlighters and references to other organizations they threw around – The Thing and the Order of Ananke, for example – which were never (or only briefly) explained. I really would have liked more history about their organization, and a little more detail surrounding exactly what it is they did in order to combat the power-hungry corporations. Fortunately, my love of the two protagonists overshadowed many of the pesky details I was missing.The Beast, or Wesley “Hauk” Haukon, a badly scarred ex-military officer, was the most pleasant of surprises in How Beauty Met the Beast. The sole survivor of a freak accident, resulting in the loss of one of his legs and scarring to over eighty percent of his body, he’s been discharged from the army for being unable to account for the deaths of seven members of his team. Living with the guilt of their deaths, his inability to remember how he alone survived, and his new-found disfigurement, one would expect a jaded and bitter man. Instead, Hauk was a character to admire. Honest and loyal to a fault, he valued the lives of his friends and those entrusted to his care more than a chance at true happiness with the first woman to bare the site of him. He took his scars in stride, even going as far as to make jokes about them in order to make those around him more comfortable. While he had his tortured hero moments – which were extremely brief – he didn’t spend his time moping about his situation. It made me instantly attracted to him, and instantly protective when Jolie was uncertain about being able to overlook his disfigurement to see the man he was beneath the scars.The Beauty in How Beauty Met the Beast was graduate student Jolie Benoit, a feisty and intelligent young woman who moonlighted as a burlesque dancer. I absolutely adored Jolie’s bubbly personality, and was surprised by how often she went against her father’s wishes – her father being one of the most powerful men in Austin, as he owned most of the news and media outlets. I did find her willingness to let a complete stranger touch her so intimately - without seeing his face – a bit odd, but I explained it away as part of the adrenaline rush she must have been experiencing for having just performed her first original burlesque act on stage. Her optimism was contagious, and her genuine disgust with herself for basing her initial reactions to Hauk off of his physical traits, was something I found endearing. She never pretended like Hauk’s scars weren’t frightening, and she was completely honest with herself about being turned off by them, admitting that if he weren’t so scarred she could easily see herself falling for him; I think it takes a certain kind of bravery to concede to oneself that you’re more shallow than you’d like to admit.Together, Hauk and Jolie were wonderful. Their chemistry was palpable, and I found myself blushing alongside Jolie in many of her shier moments. They were written as the other’s counterpart, working together with an equal amount of give and take. When Hauk was being too elusive about his history, Jolie would call him out until he admitted he was just nervous about scaring her away. When Jolie would drop an awkward conversation for fear of hurting Hauk’s feelings, Hauk would demand she just ask the question plaguing her mind instead of fitting him with her pity, which he neither wanted nor needed. By How Beauty Met the Beast’s ending, I wanted nothing more than for Jolie to realize that she could set aside Hauk’s scars, and see him for the brave and confident man he was. Alas for now, I am left wanting.A relatively quick read, How Beauty Met the Beast has got me eager for the sequel! Even though Hauk and Jolie are just friends for now, I refuse to believe that their chemistry together won’t lead them into one another’s arms! I’m also hopeful that the sequel will provide me with the background information that I found lacking.