Cross posted on Pants Off Reviews
Title: Beast by Allison Cassatta and Tracey Michael
Genre: M/M Romance, Contemporary
Published March 14th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
Length: 216 pages
Rating: 4 Stars
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
Ara Costas has it all—riches, power, and the kind of beauty that attracts all the right people. He’s flying high and loves his life, until a serious car accident leaves him horribly scarred. Ara becomes an angry recluse, hiding away in his Chicago high-rise apartment, running his multimillion-dollar business from behind a computer screen.
Ilias Adams is a quiet farm boy who keeps his nose buried in books. A great education and stellar resume land him a job as Ara's assistant and liaison to the board of directors. Little did he know when he signed up for this dream job that he’d end up working for the world's moodiest, most uptight boss.
Ilias is scared of Ara at times, but he recognizes the challenge he faces when he meets Ara and sees the reason for the man’s anger. Ara is guarded and suspicious, since he can’t believe anyone can bear to look at him. Despite all this, Ilias is determined to turn the beast into a beauty again, at least on the inside, and tear down the walls Ara has so carefully constructed around him.
Purchase Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4766
Ara is heavily scarred and retreats to live a hermit. His daily schedule is rigid and severe. He runs his company in his private office in his residence and avoids almost all human contact. His new employee, Ilias, is determined to get through to the lonely man and make Ara live a little bit more.
This is a remake of Beauty and the Beast in a corporate world setting. There is definitely a lot of emotion stirred up in the story, especially from Ara. His insecurities, dreams of restoring his face with surgery, and struggles with agoraphobia make up this story. After years of living like a hermit, Ara doesn't know how to react to Ilias in a romance fashion and retreats to his room. Sometimes, it gets tiring to see Ara retreat back into his shell, even though it's normal to have doubts and insecurities. The side characters in the story doesn't make much impact because the story focuses a lot on Ara's growth from a recluse to a confident, caring lover.
I like the slow progress of Ara's romance with Ilias, whose a really strong and sure character. Even though Ilias grew up as a farm boy and barely have any love experience, his heart is in the right place. He knows what is important in life and sees past Ara's scars to the man inside. He's also an avid reader and has a tablet full of ebooks. He's really charming when he makes little plans to open up Ara's heart and get him to live more freely. The build up of their relationship is hard-won and slow, but it's enjoyable to read their progression to being lovers.
It would also be interesting to read more about Beni, who had a one-sided crush on Ara, and his love story. He reminds me of Ilias, but he isn't strong enough to handle Ara's demanding attitude. If Ara was a different man, Beni might have been the one to change him and bring Ara out of his shell.
Overall, it's a great modern Beauty and the Beast story with a realistic portrayal of the isolation and emotional turmoil of the beast and then the courage needed to face the world again.
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