- Cutie and the Beast by E.J. Russell
Cutie and the Beast by E.J. RussellHot
Alun Kendrick, former Queen’s Champion of Faerie’s Seelie Court, takes his job as a psychologist for Portland’s supernatural population extremely seriously. Secrecy is paramount: no non-supe can know of their existence. So when a gods-bedamned human shows up to replace his office manager, he intends to send the man packing. It shouldn’t be difficult—in the two hundred years since he was cursed, no human has ever failed to run screaming from his hideous face.
But cheeky David isn’t intimidated, and despite himself, Alun is drawn to David in a way that can only spell disaster: when fae consort with humans, it never ends well. And if the human has secrets of his own? The disaster might be greater than either of them could ever imagine.
Beautifully presented with Celtic knot scene dividers and containing all the attention to detail and characterisation that I could want from a first book in a series. It didn't have that curse of trying to explain too much too soon, but it didn't lack the important information I needed, either. The balance was perfect.
Covering issues like foster care, death and dying, sickness and even rape and genocide, the story still managed to do so respectfully, while maintaining a light tone throughout. Sometimes the concept of rape was used by the Fae as a method of punishment, death or a way to gain what they wanted, but with the way the author handled it, it was acknowledged to be something brutal and unforgiveable, never just brushed off or accepted, which I appreciated. And, thankfully, there was never anything disturbing on page. There were some action scenes, but nothing beyond a little scare and a little blood was ever shown on page; there was no graphic violence, which was great. Although there is some hot sex going on, but that's a different matter.
I loved the diversity of the cast. David was a great character to hold our attention for so much of the book, with his own POV. He was clumsy, normal, an every-day guy with a troubled past, some motivation to keep him dealing with all the chaos sent his way and the steely determination and strong personality to deal with Alun on his worst days. Alun, on the other hand, was the grumpy, curmudgeon of an ancient Fae with a temper and a prejudice against innocents who might get themselves in over their heads. The chemistry between these two was brilliant!
Even better was that we got more of the cast in a nicely balanced detail. From brothers Mal and Gareth, who the next two books will be about, I loved that we got to know and learn about Alun's patients – or clients – and that they began to feel like real friends to David, while providing a good progression of plot and a great ending. From the vampires to the dragons and the wolves, the variety of creatures that Alun treated allowed for a wide range of personalities and it was great how seeing more of them showed us more of Alun and David, often things about then that we wouldn't normally get to see from their own POV's.
I really liked the way that the truth was revealed to David; mostly through his Aunt Cassie, but also in stages that made it more interesting for us to follow and left a few things as a surprise, after the first reveal, so that there was something else to look forward to later. The first reveal came at the 39% mark, which was awesome, because it meant that the story didn't dither in uncertainty for too long, but we learned a little and were able to see the consequences of that information being unleashed. It was a genius plotting device to reveal it so quickly and I loved it.
Overall, I could probably gush all day. From the world building, attention to detail, characterisation, chemistry, variety to allowing us to see equal parts of the Faerie world and the Outer World, it couldn't have been better. Most of all, I love how the whole “beast” aspect was handled. I hoped, because I had learned to appreciate who David was, by the end of the story, but I was still scared about the ending until it happened and I loved that it happened the way it did. I loved every minute and I've already added books 2 and 3 to my To Buy list, for when they release.