“… Love is what heals the personality. There is nothing that cannot be healed by love. There is nothing but love.” – Gary Zukav
Author: Allison Cassatta & Tracey Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 216 Pages
Rating: 3 Stars
Blurb: 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.
Review: At first glance, Beast appears to be an original, modern, gay re-telling of a classic story. The monster, always ugly inside or out; in this case, the monster is scarred physically and a mean bastard in his soul. The beauty whose love and blindness to the monster’s failings is the monster’s saving grace, enabling his return to humanity and acceptance of love. For me Beast didn’t live up to my expectations. It had all of the ingredients listed above but seemed maybe to include the wrong amounts of each.
Ara Costas is a spoiled, rich brat. He is entitled and always gets his way. He is cruel to those he deems “less than” himself, either physically, socially or financially. When Ara is badly injured in an auto accident, the only thing that really changes is that he becomes a recluse. He is still a spoiled brat. He expects those around him to kowtow accordingly. He is torn up inside because he has become one of the “less thans” that he used to scorn. His frustration and anger have made keeping an assistant around for any length of time impossible thus far.
Ilias Adams is quiet. He loves to read. Ilias wants to get off the family farm where his father is completely unaccepting of his sexuality. That is how he winds up working for Ara. Ilias’s title is assistant to Ara. He is to be the public face of the company that Ara owns because Ara refuses to be seen in public. He thinks people will ridicule him the way he has ridiculed others in the past. The only time he leaves his penthouse apartment is for doctor appointments and for the many surgeries he has endured since his accident. Even then, his face must be covered. Think Michael Jackson at the height of his bizarre behavior. That is how I pictured Ara when he left the apartment.
Ilias sets his mind to getting through the walls of protection Ara has erected with his anger. This is where I think an opportunity to deepen the characters was missed. The many tender and intimate times that Ara and Ilias shared were a treat to read, but the complexity of character just wasn’t there for me. The men were both stereotypical in that they offered nothing new to the trope. The classic story I mentioned in the first paragraph of this review was just retold in the same way it has been in the past.
I really liked Ilias. The phrase “his books” was overused to the point that I wanted to change it myself, but it did make the point that he was really a great lover of books. For Ilias, reading had been his solace for a long time. I felt he allowed himself to be too much of a punching (not physically) bag for Ara’s anger. Ilias put up with more than any human being could be expected to withstand and kept forgiving Ara.
Ara’s behavior was over the top. He was too much the stereotype. It made it hard to identify with him or like him at all. It was difficult for me to forgive him, even in the end. He did seem to redeem himself and allow himself to love and be loved, but I couldn’t get past the terrible way he had treated Ilias and his longsuffering housekeeper for so long.
Because of the tender scenes and the kindness Ara did show, I didn’t hate this book. I think it could have been better if Ilias had stood up for himself sooner and demanded Ara treat him with the respect he deserved. I’m sure many readers will thoroughly enjoy Beast. I’m sorry that I wasn’t one of them.