I have reviewed the rest of the Beautiful series by writing duo Christina Lauren in an ongoing post, but since the tone of this latest entry was something different, I decided to review it by itself. To get caught up, this is the series thus far (9 books, 4 couples):
- Beautiful Bastard
- Beautiful Bitch
- Beautiful Stranger
- Beautiful Bombshell
- Beautiful Player
- Beautiful Beginning
- Beautiful Beloved
- Beautiful Secret – see below
- Beautiful Boss
Ruby is an engineering intern at a London firm. An American living abroad, she is a very ambitious and capable young woman working to augment her experience before applying to a prestigious Masters program. Her boss is one of those quietly harassing, sexist douchelords so many of us have encountered; however, once a week, she attends a team meeting in which dreamy dreamboat Niall Stella will be present and that helps considerably. When the douchelord can’t participate in a month-long work project in New York, Ruby is nominated to attend with Niall.
The beautiful Series is on the erotica end of the romance continuum. Each of the previous books in the series featured characters who quickly got busy, or stayed busy in the case of the novellas. Beautiful Secret is a bit of a right turn in that the consummation is delayed, although Niall and Ruby still have fun. Niall is recently divorced and, while not particularly upset about it, he is a tightly wound guy with very little romantic experience. His closed-off demeanor alternately entices and creates problems for Ruby. They suffer from communication problems – both of the over and under-share varieties – and need to adjust their expectations and behavior to get themselves moving in the right direction.
Beautiful Secret was pleasant and occasionally sweet, but it would be disingenuous of me to be too critical because, for better or worse, I have purchased and read every book in the series and will likely continue to do so. I did find the juxtaposition of Lauren’s usual raunchiness with a more traditional approach to the relationship a bit jarring, but this indicates more about my romance tastes and the point at which they intersect with erotica than about the novel itself.
Having taken 3.7 seconds to ponder it, I generally do not find the “uptight in public/wild man between the sheets” type terribly attractive. Niall is a really great guy, sincere and patient, but he has a long way to go and a lot to learn before he is ready for a relationship with Ruby. To his credit, he realises he needs to grow and give her the space and she is, of course, able to help him with his buttoned-up demeanour. Also around are Niall’s brother, Max, and friends Bennett and Will who appear in previous books in the series. For some strange reason, only one of the women, Chloe, also has a guest starring role. This was a disappointment as I like the other female characters better than her.