*****5 ‘Beastly Puzzles & Passion’ STARS*****

A new twist on an old classic, Jackie Ashenden spins a grown-up reimagined version of Beauty and the Beast.  Grumpy, snarly, snarky and troubled meets sweet, caring and sassy – this story was a sexy and heartfelt tale of loss and love combined with the author’s trademark alpha-hole and the woman who has the power to tame him.  Touching on surprisingly intense subjects and demons, I loved watching the fight towards peace, acceptance, love and the happily ever after so richly deserved.

“This house had been his haven, his safety for so long, but now…it is your tomb.”

The rumors surrounding Nero de Santis, reclusive billionaire IT geek are beastly.  Never leaves his home.  Fired 10 assistants in less than a month.  Gives ‘exacting standards’ a new definition.  Requires 24/7/365 attendance.  The list goes on and on.  Arrogant and demanding he’s got painful, traumatizing secrets that shape his behavior.  And his new PA is perhaps the first to care enough to find the answers to the painful, thorny stab of those secrets.

“But it felt like understanding her was more important.  More important than anything.”

Phoebe Taylor is all calm, cool, self-possessed beauty on the outside.  The inside’s another story.  Desperate to find the means to support her comatose fiancée’s exorbitant medical bills, she’s landed on the doorstep of the infamous Nero.  Hiding secret pains of her own she’s trying desperately to understanding the controlling jerk who hired her – until she’s realizes what she’s up against.  And not sure she can handle it.

“Why did it have to be Nero who could do this?  Selfish, arrogant, domineering Nero.”

I was truly blown away with Nero and Phoebe’s story.  I wasn’t at all expecting the storylines and the intensity; however, I loved it.  Having gotten Xavier’s story in the first in the series I was intrigued by the jerkish recluse that is Nero.  His childhood is horrific, something you’d see on a true crime channel and be astounded at the same time devastated by the circumstances.  It’s these threads woven into the story that made Nero’s behavior understandable if not forgivable in the beginning.  My heart ached for his present condition and I loved seeing his realizations at the climax of the tale. Phoebe pulls on your heartstrings as well trying to do the right thing by her fiancée at the same time she’s emotionally (and sexually) connecting to her damaged boss – she has a difficult time sorting herself and her guilt out.  The effect they have on each other was surprising in its emotional and behavioral nuances and all the more impactful for their desire to love and accept one another.

“Yes the lion was hurting, she knew that.  But if she wanted to be Androcles and extract the thorn, she was going to wait until the right moment.”

Definitely a different kind of fairytale, I loved the dynamics and emotions at play.  This sexy, touching love story is one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.  I can’t wait to see where the next book and brother takes the series.

“Even more than that, even simpler, he saw her and accepted her as she was, not what he wanted her to be.  Something that no one else did.”

*ARC provided by NetGalley/St. Martin’s and does not effect my rating or review.*

K’s Category: 3rd date, multiple novels read by author to date.

Characters: M/F


Sex: Yes, descriptive

HEA: Yes

Standalone: Yes.


Buy Link:

Amazon US

Also Available in the Billionaire Fairytale Series:


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