Cruel Beauty

Cruel Beauty

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

OH MY GOSH FOR THE LOVE OF PIZZA AND ICE CREAM, ALLLLLL THE ROMANCE . . . I JUST . . . IT’S SO PREETTTTTYYY! And when I say romance, I mean sweep you off your feet, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, kind of feeeelllllssss!!! I just, I just, CANNOT EVEN. CANNOT EVEN. And you want to know why? Because there was not a chapter (I don’t think) that went by without me getting all happy because we get to read about Ignifex (or Shade)!! And that so rarely happens in books anymore because then the bad guy looses his mystery and we get to know him more and for some crazy reason, people (authors) seem to think that this means he will be any less drool worthy. But, alas, not so. I love him all the more for it.


I’ll be honest: I fell quick and hard for Ignifex.

Reason number one: He is described almost as a cat in his movements and expressions. The devil may care kind of attitude that I love to read about. But he’s not prideful or smug (most of the time) but is more just . . . amused. At everything. Especially Nyx. And for whatever reason, I love to read about guys who are described as cats, such as how soft their hair is or how he nuzzles Nyx when he just decides (randomly) that he wants to take a nap on her lap. (Don’t judge me.)

Reason number two: He never looses it with Nyx. Yes, she’s plotting to kill him and is constantly looking for ways to do this, but he realizes that and just doesn’t particularly care. Partially because he doesn’t think she can succeed and partly because he’s okay with her trying to kill him. Maybe even wants it. But even when she does stuff that he told her not to do, there’s only one time that he gets kind of mad at her, but even then she gets back at him.

Reason number three: He seems to love to pick up and carry Nyx. Not because he’s a big, strong man or some crap like that, and not necessarily because she’s hurt or he has to at the moment, but because he just wants to. Even when she might not. And I kind of adore that. He’s not picking her up to show how strong he is or because he thinks Nyx is weak (I laugh at anyone who calls this girl weak), but simply because he wants to.

Reason number four: He’s the bad guy. Don’t judge, but I fall for the bad guy. And I don’t mean the bad boy as in the one that broods too much or wears the leather jackets or has a bad attitude, but I mean the really bad guys in books. The ones like Warner from Shatter Me and the Darkling from Shadow and Bone. And Ignifex is like that here. He’s the guy you make cursed deals with, a demon, and he makes no tries to hide that. He makes no excuses for himself. But he’s the bad guy where you know there’s a reason he’s that way. Yes, he chooses it all – to an extent – and that does not make him any less guilty of his crimes, but it makes him an interesting character with a lot of layers.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is a (sort of) retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a lot of Greek mythology mixed in. And I highly recommend it. I really was not expecting to like this book as much as I did, and it was a nice surprise to read something different.

Nyx: Our girl. The beautiful, courageous Nyx, who even though she’s been cursed to marry this demon king because of her (read: a-hole of a) father and has been raised by him to kill her future husband to save their world, still wants to go through it. Not because her father asked her to, not because she feels like she has to avenge her mother, but because she feels it’s the right thing to do. And I’ve got to give her a hand for that. She never whines about it. Never sulks around after her marriage about how unfair it is that she’s been cursed to his fate while her twin sister – the favored sister – is safe and free. But she is angry. A lot.

And that’s what I love the most about her. She’s angry at everything. And not in an annoying, teenage girl kind of way. But a deep rooted hatred for her sister – even though she still loves her (it’s complicated) – her father, her aunt, Ignifex, her world, the stupid people who come to Ignifex for bargains that always end badly. And she honestly has a right to. It’s not so much as bitterness as it is just a sense of darkness in her heart. But she embraces it, because it is who she is. It doesn’t make her a bad person, per say, but is what gives her strength to do what she thinks is right, even when it will probably kill her. (She’s angry at that too.)

I haven’t read about a protagonist that is as angry as Nyx is. And I LOVED IT.



I’m also going to put it out there that this was actually kind of emotional. My heart started to hurt a little bit by the end, and I was just praying to the book god that Ignifex and Nyx were going to end up together. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending (can’t say why; stupid spoilers and whatnot) but it wasn’t horrible either. Just not what I particularly wanted.

(Actually, what I really wanted was for Nyx to punch her father’s front teeth out.) 😀




Filed under 4 star books

2 responses to “Cruel Beauty

  1. Opk2819

    …Blasts through his door so fast on his way outside to go and procure this book by whatever means necessary!

    I am in love with this Nyx already and I haven’t read the book! Can’t wait to read it and write my own rave review!

  2. Pingback: Book Review: “Cruel Beauty” | The Cheap Reader

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