How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks
Book One of The Embraced series
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
Luciana grew up on the Isle of Moon, hidden away because of her magical powers. But when her father arrives, he offers her a choice: remain on the island or return with him and marry the Beast of Benwick in order to save their legacy—and her father's life.
Lord Leofric, the Beast of Benwick, has not been touched since he was a child. Born with the power to harness lightning, he is a danger to everyone he touches. When he meets his betrothed, he expects a loveless, lonely marriage...until he discovers she's vastly more powerful than he realized. But is she strong enough to withstand his touch?
If they can survive, their love will alter the future of the kingdom. But will their extraordinary powers cost them everything?
What I Liked:
How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days is a funny, swoony, and sweet romance novel that is sure to charm readers. It's a quick read that will have you smiling throughout the story. I can't remember the last time I read a book (adult novel or otherwise) and felt light and happy during the entire thing. This book always had a light, hopeful, upbeat tone to it, even when there was the occasional dangerous scene. I really liked this book!
Luciana grew up on the Isle of Moon in a convent with several other orphaned girls. She is Embraced, which means she has extraordinary magical powers. The story opens with her father arriving at the convent to take her with him. It turns out, she has a father, and she had a twin sister, but the twin, Tatiana, died. Luciana goes with her father in order to save him; if she doesn't pretend to be her dead twin Tatiana, and wed the Beast of Benwick, her father will be killed and the Vindalyn holdings would be seized by the greedy king. Leofric of Benwick, Lord Protector of the Realm, has quite the reputation. He is Embraced, and his touch kills. He gets struck by lightning and absorbs the power of the lightning, which makes him extremely powerful and extremely deadly. But Luciana finds that he is not the monster everyone makes him out to be. He is selfless and willing to die for her and her father, as well as the people he serves, as Lord Protector. Their marriage was ordered by the king, but no one expected them to fall for each other.
The beginning is a little slow, but once Luciana and Leo meet (unofficially and then officially), I was really hooked. Their interactions were always interesting - and I was dying to know when Leo would find out who Luciana really was (remember, she is pretending to be her twin sister, who is actually dead).
From the start, I knew I would like Luciana. She is so sweet and kind, and she has the interests of her convent sisters and her father at heart. She drops everything to save her father, even if it meant marrying the Beast of Benwick. And even in meeting Leo and getting to know him, Luciana looks at him with an open mind and an open heart. I love how sweet Luciana is. It's rare that you'll find a sweet yet assertive heroine in romance novels - too often, she's either too assertive and bossy, or too innocent and naive. Luciana is a great combination of the two.
Oh Leo. Leo is my favorite of this book. He is so complex and different, and my heart broke for him. Every time someone referred to him as the Beast, or whispered or pointed or assumed something bad about him... worse still was when he would call himself a monster and think of himself in such a negative light. The poor man needed a hug! No one has really touched him since he was very young. He is isolated, and yet he is incredibly selfless and brave. He's a noble warrior with a good heart, and it's really too bad that everyone is terrified of him. He's such a good guy. He's also quite the wicked charmer, once one gets past his mask of indifference.
You probably can already tell, but this is based on Beauty and the Beast! Hence the sweet heroine and the isolated, tortured hero. Leo isn't actually a "beast" - he's a young, handsome young man - but he has the power to kill anyone with his lightning touch. But he's also incredible powerful, with all of the lightning he can harness. Luciana's power as an Embraced seems to be discerning the future, though she isn't quite proficient. She can also see and speak to ghosts.
I love the cast of secondary characters! Nevis, Leo's best friend, is hilarious (and eats with no shame, which is always funny). Brody, another friend of Leo's, is a sweetheart, and he's an enigma too. Luciana's father the Duke is a nice man, and she and him grow close despite not knowing each other for nineteen years. There are important ghosts in the story - yep, you read that correctly. Luciana's dead twin, Tatiana becomes an important secondary character. I liked seeing her and Luciana grow closer, despite Tatiana being an utter brat, initially.
One of the things that worried me a little was how Luciana's deception was going to impact Leo. It turns out that Tatiana was a spoiled, selfish brat, and she had a lover. Luciana, on the other hand, is a sweet and polite girl who was raised in a convent (and therefore, a virgin). I was worried about what Leo would think of "Tatiana" and when he would find out that "Tatiana" is actually Luciana. BUT I think the author did a great job with the reveal, and the timing of the reveal. Leo actually starts to pick up fairly quickly on the fact that "Tatiana" is not who she says she is.
The romance is so sweet! I feel like I'm overusing the word "sweet", but the romance can definitely be described as sweet. Luciana falls in love with Leo very quickly, which didn't bother me at all. The title says "seven days" and that is actually how long they have, from meeting each other, to getting married. The story goes on for a month after the wedding, but all of the falling in love occurs in a week. This worked for the story, and didn't feel rushed at all (despite the fact that it was only seven days). Leo and Luciana develop a strong emotional connection from the start. Leo is pretty much a goner upon first sight. Luciana quickly realizes that Leo is a good man, and her kind disposition lends itself to her keeping an open mind with him. The romance is sweet and chemistry between the pair is pretty steamy. Not the most fiery of romances, but they have their moments. They have great chemistry, for a sweet, cute pair.
I also liked how both protagonists develop internally. Luciana develops a relationship with her father, her sister (a ghost), and her dead mother (also a ghost). She has a whole family that she never had before, in addition to a handsome husband. And Leo - he's gone years without being touched, or loved. He's also withdrawn into himself. I had so much respect for Leo as he continued to serve everyone, despite everyone being afraid of him or blaming him for things he didn't even do. The author did an amazing job with the character development of both of these protagonists, with all of their issues in the past, and present.
The plot aside for the romance has to do with the selfish, murdering king who wants older, powerful land holdings for himself. The Duke (Luciana's father) has a lot of power and a lot of land. The king sends assassins to kill both Luciana and her father many times. The king also wants Leo dead since Leo is a direct heir to the throne (he is the king's nephew), among other reasons. So the climax of the book comes down to Leo and Luciana fighting for their lives.
Overall, I was quite pleased with this book! It was cute and light, funny and sweet. I love Beauty and the Beast retellings, and this one did not disappoint.
What I Did Not Like:
This isn't really a complaint because I'm satisfied in general (really, I am!), but I would have loved a little more steam in the romance. Don't get me wrong, there are a couple of sex scenes and smoldering non-sex scenes, but I wouldn't have minded more. There was really only one major sex scene and I feel like there should always be two or three. But again, this isn't really a complaint because the author did a good job with the chemistry, in general.
Would I Recommend It:
I definitely recommend this book to those who love adult romance. This is a fantasy romance set in medieval times, so it's kind of historical fantasy romance. There is plenty of magic (abilities, shifters, dragons, elves), plenty of humor, and plenty of swoon between Leo and Luciana. I dare you not to fall in love with Leo! I think he's a new favorite book boyfriend.
Also... the guy on the cover is a perfect Leo. I don't usually comment on a book's cover because the author has no control over that, and often times, the cover models don't quite match the character. But the cover model of this book's cover pretty much matches the Leo in my head. Maybe the hair could be a little more red but in general, he is perfect!
4.5 stars. I'm trying to decide if I want to round up or down, and my general thing is that if I'm undecided, I'll round down for the time being. This book is more than likely going to end up in my top ten adult novels of 2017, at the end of the year! I am definitely looking forward to reading So I Married a Sorcerer.
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