A man who enjoys reading romance novels? Yeah I might just have to battle it out with the female lead to get my hands on this perfect male specimen.
What’s it About?
In this modern-retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” Savannah Carmichael, betrayed by an unreliable source, returns to her hometown of Danvers, Virginia with her once-promising journalism career in ruins. Given the opportunity to get back in the game by writing a patriotic human interest piece, Savannah turns her attention to the town hermit, Asher Lee, a wounded veteran who returned to Danvers eight years ago, and hasn’t been seen since.
After an IED explosion in Afghanistan took Asher’s hand and disfigured half of his face, he’s lived a quiet life on the outskirts of Danvers where the locals respect his privacy…that is, until Savannah Carmichael comes calling in a borrowed sundress with a plate of homemade brownies. When Asher agrees to be interviewed by Savannah, he starts feeling things for the beautiful reporter that he hasn’t felt in years.
Misfits in small-town Danvers, Savannah and Asher create a bond right away, touching each other’s hearts in ways neither thought possible. When a terrible mistake threatens to drive them apart, they’ll have to decide if the love they found in one another’s arms is strong enough to fight for their hard-won happily ever after.
At first I was kind of like, oh it’s cute how this story kind of matches your classic Beauty and the Beast tale. After all, we have a scarred and slightly surly male lead who is a bit of a hermit living alone in his big house. One day our hidden hero finds his solitude interrupted by a curious female who is willing to look beneath his outward appearance to uncover the beauty hiding within him. When I found out he not only has a huge library, but also a housekeeper named Mrs. Potts I realized, oh this isn’t really supposed to be a subtle comparison! Hell, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we eventually met a gardener named Cogsworth. Alas, that doesn’t happen, but I would have been all for it.
I must say I was kind of surprised how quick the townsfolk were to turn their backs on this wounded war vet upon his return from battle. I understand it helped tie into the connection with the actual Beauty and the Beast story to have him presented as a recluse on the outskirts of society. It also sounds like his personality soured a bit after being wounded, so he might not have been the most pleasant company. However, to hear some of the hateful comments which were said by some of Savannah’s friends and family was downright shocking. To give him a nickname of the hermit, avoid pretty much any and all contact with him, and to even deter her from spending time with him because of his scars?
This man almost died trying to save the life of his fallen comrades, and rather than provide him with a warm homecoming you’re gonna express open shock at his return and start mocking him? I could get how some would be initially surprised at his obvious scars and missing limbs, but they practically treat him as a leper to be avoided at all costs. I just had a hard time believing that an entire town could be so cold to one of their own who was a hero in battle. Especially considering this book takes place in the South, where Southern hospitality is practically a way of life! I feel like even if Asher had tried to hide from the rest of the world he would have had people like my Aunt banging on his door every other day with baked goods whether he liked it or not.
They always say the devil is in the details, and there were a few missteps here and there which were somewhat questionable. Firstly, Savannah and her potential new editor never really focus on the ethical ramifications of a reporter getting romantically involved with her subject. Maybe it’s because technically she’s not actually employed by this newspaper, and it’s more of a trial audition piece? Still though, probably not the best sign of professionalism upon looking for a possible job to swap spit numerous times with the focus of her article.
The fact the editor actually encourages their little romance seemed also slightly unbelievable, but heck what do I know? It’s the lifestyle section. Maybe they’re a bit more loose on the do’s and dont’s. But considering she was fired from her last job because of a bad source who just happened to be the guy she was dating means she doesn’t have the best track record when her personal and professional lives start to mingle. Lastly, it’s called Johns Hopkins people! Not John Hopkins!! Ok, I realize this is barely worth a mention, but as an employee of said establishment, it was like nails on a chalkboard.
Their relationship might be fairly new, but it doesn’t take long before Savannah and Asher are both keeping big secrets from each other. He’s not sharing his inquiries into reconstructive surgery to improve his face and limbs. She’s not telling him about the approach to her article being about their growing friendship and love. While you really want to push both to open up, I can understand his reasoning a lot better than hers. Asher doesn’t want it to be true, but he logically sees the short term reality of their relationship. If Savannah’s article is a success she’ll move to Phoenix, and that’ll be it, so what’s the point of putting false hope behind the idea of a forever? He’s not going to leave Danvers, and he doesn’t want to have to ask her to give up her dreams of a career. I think he also fears that if he mentions it to her and she latches onto the idea of him improving himself, then it means she’s only sticking with him because of the possibility he’ll look better on the outside. That in essence would show that who he is now is lacking. It’s really an interesting observation of his mental state and reasoning.
Now, if we look at her reasons for silence about the approach to her article? Girl what are you thinking?? What, you think he’s just not gonna read it once it’s published and realize that you included some of the most private details of your relationship with a wide audience? Savannah basically admits to herself that her motive is to ask for forgiveness later rather than permission beforehand. Mkay…we’ll see how that works out for ya.
Turns out, very very badly. As expected. Asher really rips her a new one, and you can’t completely fault him for it. She went against his trust and privacy. What I really loved about this big blow-up scene was that Asher gave her every opportunity to explain her reasoning once the truth came to light. I was wondering if we’d get an instance where he refused to listen to reason, but instead he calmly asks her to explain her motives. The problem is, her reasoning suuucks. It always did. She was desperate to salvage her career, and when the editor demanded something more steamy and romantic in her article about Asher, she caved to that pressure. In spite of countless opportunities to explain the true spin of her article to Asher, she chose to keep silent. She assumed their love was strong enough that he’d automatically forgive her indiscretion and misuse of his trust. Well, you know what happens when you assume, don’t you? It almost makes you question which of them is the beauty and which is the beast.
Series: A Modern Fairytale, book 1. I’ll probably continue with this series.
Final Impressions: Goodness gracious do I want Asher for myself. This man is so damn near perfect I can’t even stand it. Sure he may have been a bit surly in the beginning, but he was quick to open up and let his true beauty shine. Savannah is a bit more hit or miss. Her love for Asher is undeniably true, but she let her ambition for success cloud her judgement when it came to him. We all knew it would be just a matter of time before the truth blew up in her face, and when it does man oh man is it a humdinger. In the end you can’t deny these two ultimately brought out the best in each other. She gives him the hope and desire to live again, while he helps her see what true love feels like.
Smut Level: Asher might only have one hand, but my God does he know how to use it.
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE Kindle Version. Self-Published. 290 Pages