About the Book

Title: Cruel Beauty
Published: 2014
Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Cover Story: Better Than Fabio
BFF Charm: Single White Female
Talky Talk: Fantamance
Bonus Factors: Beauty and the Beast, Bad Boy, Mythology, Enchanted Castle
Relationship Status: Vacation Fling

Cover Story: Better Than Fabio

I do think that the rose superimposed with the staircase is a pretty nifty idea, and both elements actually tie to the story. But let’s be honest. This looks like a romance novel. A classy romance, to be sure, but still a romance. There’s just something about it… the typeface? The rose? Oh I know. MAYBE IT’S THE TERRIBLE TAGLINE. At any rate, I shouldn’t be complaining, because it could have been a lot worse.

The Deal:

Nyx (yes, that’s her name) has been stuck in an arranged marriage since the day she and her twin sister Astraia (I know, just go with it) were born. She’s spent her whole life dreading her husband, and now that she’s seventeen, she finally has to meet him. And then try to kill him.

See, Nyx is engaged to a demon known as the Gentle Lord, who casts a dark shadow over the country of Arcadia. Mysterious and all-powerful, he makes bargains with desperate souls, one of whom was Nyx’s father. Now it’s time for dear old dad to deliver on his promise of a bride, which means it’s time for Nyx to face off with the prince of demons. But once she enters the Gentle Lord’s castle, all of her expectations are blown to bits. Her new husband, also known as Ignifex (by this point, you can just give up on any normal names, okay?), isn’t a terrifying demon, he’s a piping hot slice of sexy! And very quickly, he proves to be a sizable snag in Nyx’s plan to destroy him.

BFF Charm: Single White Female

BFF Charm with an image of the main character from the movie Single White Female

Nyx is brave gal with a clever tongue and a huge chip on her shoulder. I liked her, but she spends far too much of the book feeling guilty for hating her family (particularly her sister) and not nearly enough time enjoying the fact that she lives in a sweet magical castle with the ultimate bad boy.

That’s why I don’t want to be friends with Nyx, I want to BE Nyx. You won’t find me trying to save a family that SUCKS* when instead I could be making out with my devilishly handsome husband in our enchanted library! I would take FULL advantage of that shizz, y’all. Sure, there’s some downsides, like the whole “my husband is a demon who might kill me” thing, but did I mention the enchanted library? BRB GOING TO GET A HAIRCUT THAT LOOKS JUST LIKE NYX’S HAIRCUT.

*Can we talk about her sister in the comments because WTF? Am I the only one who thought she was an insane person?

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Ain’t no clogged pores on my face cos this book was STEA-MAY. In addition to being gorgeous, Ignifex has a wicked sense of humor, and his motives towards Nyx are deliciously unclear. The tension builds nice and slow thanks to some sizzling enemistry and a certain development that I won’t spoil for you here. While not exactly complex, the emotional energy between this volatile pair charges every scene and heightens the tingle of every touch.  

Talky Talk: Fantamance

Rosamund Hodge’s style is a combination of fantasy and romance, so I assumed I was being clever by making up a term to describe that hybrid. Obviously, I forgot that the internet has already thought of everything. Tinged with old world formality, this love story is enriched by magical elements that range from Hermetics to sigils, so you can feel slightly edified while indulging in hotness like this:

He was a monster. Not even close to human. But I wasn’t look at his cat-slit eyes or mocking smile. I was staring at the lines of his shoulder, lazy but strong even under his clothes, the pale skin of his throat, exposed where several of his coat’s gold clasps had come undone, the curve of his jaw that would be warm against my lips. For one moment, I felt like a river running down to his ocean.

There’s nothing smutty about this book, but it’s definitely the kind of fantasy that would make Tolkien blush.

Bonus Factor: Beauty and the Beast

TALE AS OLD AS TIIIIIIME… try getting THAT out of your head while reading this loose adaptation of Belle and her furry friend. Spoiler: it’s impossible.

Bonus Factor: Bad Boy

Christian Slater in a screenshot from Heathers

Who wants to be touched by an angel when you’ve got the Prince of Demons at your service?

Bonus Factor: Mythology

Mythology art: Mercury bringing Jupiter to the Melisses nymphs

While occasionally cumbersome to the story, the mythological hodgepodge of Nyx’s world was definitely fun to explore.

Bonus Factor: Enchanted Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany

Ignifex’s castle is a crazy labyrinth of rooms that shift and transform, so sometimes, the library might be covered in vines, or the ballroom might be full of water. Food just shows up in the kitchen, and the closets are full of gorgeous dresses. UM WHEN CAN I MOVE IN?

Relationship Status: Vacation Fling

This book offered me an escape from the ordinary, and I enjoyed being a tourist in its magical world. But the best scenery wasn’t outside, if you know what I’m saying. While I have no plans to make our holiday together permanent, I definitely got my kicks out of this trip.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Balzer + Bray. I received neither cocktails nor money for this review (dammit). Cruel Beauty is available now.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.