Title: Laurent and the Beast (Kings of Hell MC: Book One)
Author: K.A. Merikan
Length: 320 Pages
Category: Gothic Horror, Action/Adventure
At a Glance: I absolutely recommend this book, but be aware: it is dark, it is gritty, it contains triggers of violence, language, explicit scenes, and morally ambiguous characters, but it also has a HEA and a love that triumphs in the end.
Reviewed By: Carrie
Blurb: — Nothing can stop true love. Not time. Not even the devil himself. —
1805. Laurent. Indentured servant. Desperate to escape a life that is falling apart.
2017. Beast. Kings of Hell Motorcycle Club vice president. His fists do the talking.
Beast has been disfigured in a fire, but he’s covered his skin with tattoos to make sure no one mistakes his scars for weakness. The accident not only hurt his body, but damaged his soul and self-esteem, so he’s wrapped himself in a tight cocoon of violence and mayhem where no one can reach him.
Until one night, when he finds a young man covered in blood in their clubhouse. Sweet, innocent, and as beautiful as an angel fallen from heaven, Laurent pulls on all of Beast’s heartstrings. Laurent is so lost in the world around him, and is such a tangled mystery, that Beast can’t help but let the man claw his way into the stone that is Beast’s heart.
In 1805, Laurent has no family, no means, and his eyesight is failing. To escape a life of poverty, he uses his beauty, but that only backfires and leads him to a catastrophe that changes his life forever. He takes one step into the abyss and is transported to the future, ready to fight for a life worth living.
What he doesn’t expect in his way is a brutal, gruff wall of tattooed muscle with a tender side that only Laurent is allowed to touch. And yet, if Laurent ever wants to earn his freedom, he might have to tear out the heart of the very man who took care of him when it mattered most.
Review: Where do I start with this book? There are so many deliciously twisted, audaciously maniacal things inside its pages. The constant dichotomy of good vs evil, beautiful vs ugly, happy vs sad, moral vs immoral, love vs hate, gothic vs modern day… I could go on. This book draws you in and, frankly, if eating, sleeping and going to work were not necessary elements in my life, I would have gone cover-to-cover despite the length. As it was, I finished it at 3:30 in the morning—I was a zombie at work the next day, but it was soooo worth it. Think Beauty and Beast meets Sons of Anarchy, with time travel, demonic manipulation, questionable lineage and morally ambiguous MCs.
Laurent is an indentured servant. He’s made something of himself, though, working in a bookshop to pay off his servitude and learn a trade. No one knows that he is going blind, but Laurent lives in constant fear that his master will find out, and then he will be left with nothing. He’s naïve to a fault, hauntingly beautiful, and if it weren’t for some of his choices, you would call him pure. He is also gay, and in 1802 that was a dangerous thing to be. When Laurent is confronted with the face of pure evil, he is forced into making a deal with a demon from hell. Laurent just wants to live his life, freely, be loved by a special someone, and never go blind. Is that too much to ask? As for the demon, he just wants Laurent to keep a King alive, to make sure a Beast stays inside his home until his 33rd birthday, and keep his mission a secret. Laurent is faced with the impossible choice of becoming the demon’s servant for a time, or being hanged for a crime he had no choice but to commit. Unwittingly, Laurent becomes a pawn in the demon’s chess game, with the ultimate victory being able to survive for another thousand years.
Beast is a thirty-two-year-old man. Disfigured in a horrible fire when he was younger, he had his whole body tattooed with Dante’s Inferno, in Latin, as a big FU to the world. He is gruff on the outside, slightly morally ambiguous, but he has a huge heart underneath it all. Beast will break your heart in so many ways, as he longs for love and doesn’t think he is worth it. He strives to be a good man, but is walking a fine line between the man he wants to be and the man he feels everyone perceives him to be. Coming across a young man covered in blood is not something that Beast is used to, and he reacts with suspicion and cruelty to Laurent dropping into his life. He is drawn to Laurent’s goodness, though, and teaching the boy about life in the 20th century is humorous and heartwarming. But why does the boy have the same brand Beast’s father does on the back of his neck, and just what is Laurent hiding? Because he is hiding something, and Beast’s own life is at stake without him even knowing.
Laurent’s ability, his goodness and purity of motivations (except when he is being manipulative, ha!) allows him to see the real Beast. To fall in love with a man who others see as repulsive. It is Laurent and Beast’s innate goodness that buoys their relationship, bringing them together and helping them solve the impossible riddle of the demon’s chess game.
The twists, the turns, the gothic story building, layer upon layer. The careful groundwork of establishing the characters, then hitting you between the eyes with a fantastical storyline—this is one of K.A. Merikan’s best books, in my opinion, because of the depth of story they accomplish. The writing duo is known for exceptional alternative, gritty worldbuilding, and this story is no exception. You can smell the sulphur coming off the pages, and Laurent’s fascination with all things plastic allows for moments of childlike wonder in the middle of a dark, demonic tale. Right now, there are four books in the planning stages for this series, and I cannot wait for the next one! Please let it be Knight. PLEASE let it be Knight!
I absolutely, if you couldn’t tell, recommend this book, but be aware: it is dark, it is gritty, it contains triggers of violence, language, explicit scenes, and morally ambiguous characters, but it also has a HEA and a love that triumphs in the end.
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