fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsBeauty Awakened by Gena Showalter fantasy book reviewsBeauty 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.

Publication Date: March 1, 2013. New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter returns with another captivating Angels of the Dark tale, as a tormented warrior is brought to his knees by the most delicate of humans…. His name is Koldo. He is scarred, powerful, his control legendary—and he lives only for vengeance against the angel who viciously removed his wings. But if he yields to the forces of hatred, he will be eternally damned. Nicola Lane was born with a defective heart, yet this fragile human shows surprising strength as demons stalk her every move, determined to end her. She is the key to Koldo’s deliverance…and his downfall. Though he fights duty, destiny and his first addictive taste of desire, his toughest battle will be the one for Nicola’s life—even if he has to sacrifice his own….


  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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