Beauty Awakened by Gena Showalter
I’d never read any of Gena Showalter’s books before trying Beauty Awakened, but I’d gotten the idea they were fun reads. Unfortunately, I did not have fun with Beauty Awakened — in fact, it made me angry — and I abandoned the book partway through.
The setup is that Koldo, a physically and emotionally scarred dark-angel type, and Nicola, a self-sacrificing young woman with a heart condition and a dying twin sister, meet and eventually fall in love. But Showalter made Koldo so insufferable that I couldn’t root for them as a couple. At one point, he performs a miraculous task and Nicola asks him what he is, to have this ability. He berates her for not doing research. The woman is working two jobs and her sister is in the hospital! She explains, but he keeps lecturing her about priorities and excuses. After a while, even the fact that I was envisioning him played by Jason Momoa didn’t make him palatable.
I also had issues with the metaphysical setup. I had heard there was a strong Christian bent to Beauty Awakened and was prepared for it. But what I found was not the Christianity I know, but a yucky victim-blamey Law of Attraction sort of thing where people cause their own illnesses by thinking negative thoughts. This is a personal peeve, I suppose, but I’ve seen too many good (and positive!) people facing horrible illnesses that I just can’t buy into this belief system, especially not when I’m looking for escapist fun.
Also on the subject of the belief system, some of Koldo’s fellow angels are horrible people. I’m OK with books that go all the way with amoral angels and create an internally consistent world around that idea. I’m less OK with a group of angels that are meant to be on the side of Good but include, say, a guy who discards lovers like “dirty tissue.” (It appears he’s the hero of the next book, where he meets a heroine and no doubt changes his ways.)
The prose is perfectly fine and I’ve heard good things about other Showalter books. I’d be willing to try another one sometime. But I’m done with Beauty Awakened.
This sounds awful. I’m sure I’d hate it for the same reasons you do.
I think one of the reasons I don’t like romances is because if I can’t believe in the couple, the whole plot is ruined. But if the book has some other purpose than the romance, it’s okay if the romance doesn’t work for me because there’s something else to the plot (though I’ll still probably complain about it)… And because I’m so darn picky, it’s very likely that I’m NOT going to believe in any particular romance.
I agree, Kat. I like romances in theory, but in practice I’m so picky about them that I end up disliking a lot of them.
“After a while, even the fact that I was envisioning him played by Jason Momoa didn’t make him palatable.”
You had me laughing! I don’t remember that last time you walked away from a book, Kelly. I see her works at the store but I don’t think I’m going to buy them, unless you come across one that is better done.
Heehee! Well, I walk away from books all the time, but sometimes I know why, and sometimes I don’t have any idea, and I don’t tend to write reviews for the latter. “I stopped reading this and I don’t know why” doesn’t make much of a review. LOL!
I’d heard her books were OK popcorn entertainment, but I was just too annoyed with the guy and the metaphysics. If you need a tormented-hero fix, I’d recommend Marjorie Liu.
Next time I’m reading a romance I don’t like, I’ll try the Jason Momoa trick. That could totally work.