This is a short but very sweet take on the old fairytale Beauty and the Beast and I think Garren did a great job at getting us into a steampunk world that is dark and scary, with glimmers of light. One of these glimmers in Jolie Benoi. She is a classy rich man’s daughter who is slumming her nights as a burlesque dancer. We get early glimpses into the character when she first encounters “Hauk”, the grotesque battle-scarred veteran of numerous wars. This scene, so tender and yet terribly sensual and sexy, where they never even see each other but come to know each other intimately was when I knew I was going to enjoy this book.
The beginning is a bit fragmented and until I hit the scene mentioned above I was ready throw in the towel on this book. But once I hit that scene it was like Garren hit his stride and knew where he was going. So don’t give up on it, the ride from there is well worth the ticket.
In this post-something they never really name, Hauk is an outside. He is wanted by numerous dangerous people, and he is more than a little dangerous himself. He has looked in the mirror; he knows the ruins his face is from a war accident. But something transfixes him when he first sees Jolie, and from there on he is lost. His subsequent rescue of her and then the relationship that ensues to simply survive has the wonderful feel of a slowly unraveling ball of yarn.
When you place this sweet tentative attempt at love between the two, scarred in different places and in different ways, against the rip-roaring tempo of the steampunk world around them, it just intensifies the whole experience. There is danger for both of them if they lose themselves in this. They live in a dangerous world that will devour them without a second thought.
Hanging By a Thread
It is this underlying feeling of living in a world where you are always hanging on by your fingernails that makes the simple reaching out to each other all the sweeter. I didn’t realize when I was reading this that it is the first of a three part series. There was a sense of having more story at the end, but thankfully no cheap cliff-hanger to make you want to throw the book (or in my case Kindle) across the room.
More to Come
I will be really looking forward to seeing where he is going to go from here with this. It isn’t as if there aren’t mountains to climb for the two main characters, and the book ends with such sweet hope that you want to know how they do. Because there are plenty of questions left unanswered at the end, but not so many that you feel unsatisfied. Personally I love to have a sweet at the end of the meal, and that is what Jax Garren gives us in this steampunk inspired bit of fantasy romance.