“It was beautiful and dark, twisted and profound.”
Fast-paced, witty and intriguing, Brutally Beautiful was a dark and yet delightfully gripping book that hooked me from the start and kept me flipping pages long into the night. It was SO well-written. The dialogue was snappy, the plot was kept me on my toes, and the story was raw and emotionally intense. This book was truly a joy to read and I have quotes highlighted on almost every single page. If you are a fan of dark, tortured heroes and strong heroines, you should definitely add this book to your reading list.
The dedication at the beginning already had my heart clenching…
“Dedicated to the ones that are bruised and broken.”
… and with an opening line like the following, this book instantly grabbed my attention!
“There was blood all over my hands and I knew I was losing control, because I was more desperate to find a drink, than a napkin to clean off the mess.”
The story starts off with the heroine, Sam, escaping her violent, pain-filled life literally with blood still on her hands and running deep into the mountains with her best friend which is where she meets Kade — a man hiding a dark past and even more secrets than her…. I don’t really want to say more though. That is the main set up of the story but the rest of the details are all a journey I suggest you just dive into 🙂
I adored the hero, Kade!!! He was such a complex and intuguing character. He was a complete mystery to me — almost an anti-hero honestly. He was dark (and I mean DARKKKKKK), an antisocial, Alpha loner with a world of issues and a mysterious past. He was antagonistic and intense, at times he felt dangerous but I knew he was just damaged, he could be a total jerk one minute but then turn around the next moment and say or do something that made my heart just melt. He was far from perfect but I totally loved him!!
Actually, if you’re a fan of Matt Sky (the hero of Night Owl), you’ll probably love Kade because in many ways he and Matt felt like long lost brothers!
I’ll totally admit though — he did not make it easy to love him at first. I was totally drawn to his character when I first “met” him and was already starting to like him but then, he opened his mouth.
I mean really. But… the more I learned about him, the more I realized that while he had issues, he was a really good guy at heart and hiding behind the antagonistic facade he wore was a broken man haunted by the demons of his past.
“Violence and hate were in my veins. I was rage personified, and horror and malicee were my friends. We had lived together peacefully since I came to terms with being me.”
The heroine was just awesome! She’d been through hell but she held her head high and was NOT the kind of woman to let a man walk over her. She was funny, sassy, and strong and I just loved her for it!
“I’m sure Kade Grayson had a long line of interested women offering their dancing services to him for his money, but I wasn’t going to be one of them.”
The story was told in alternating POVs. I loved getting both sides of the story and, because I liked both Sam and Kade, I loved seeing the story through their eyes. Kade’s POV though was especially interesting. It was fascinating, dark, funny, totally weird and yet surprisingly normal, a touch disturbing at times but also just pure awesome!! Like I said, that man was DARK — his thoughts and actions were borderline unhinged at times…
“I wanted to hate her, break her, and keep her the hell away from my sick, twisted mind. But, there was no point in lying to myself, was there? Because I wanted a taste of her even more. I wanted her.”
But I loved how Sam was the first person to be able to break through his walls and get to the real HIM. Still, it was a love, hate, love, hate, love, hate type relationship filled with amazing banter, a healthy dose of eye fucking and sexual tension out the wazoo!
“We were a mere inches away from each other, and ready to either claw each other’s eyes out or lick each other silly.”
Kade just kept on surprising me but I loved how this dark and twisted man was getting completely unravelled by this girl who wouldn’t take any of his shit and who he couldn’t keep off his mind.
“Yeah, I was going to follow her. Staying away from her was not an option…. Fran dropped her off at a grocery store. Psycho me followed her in.”
So yeah, he was an asshole, a jerk, a wee bit of a stalker, and certainly seemed more than a little crazy BUT I LOVED HIM!!! I couldn’t not. He was a man haunted by the nightmares of his past but something about Sam helped to heal him… slowly.
“Lainy, you somehow soothe the chaos that’s inside me. You heal me.”
(PS – Lainy = Sam. Same girl. Long story – you’ll see if you read the book, lol)
Now with the way it’s written, there’s SO much that’s hidden and mysterious and honestly, there were times when some of the content got so dark that a part of me almost wondered if the story was maybe a paranormal one but… no – it’s fully contemporary, real life. And, it all makes sense in the end!
But my mind was racing — what could possibly have happened to make Kade the way he was? “What could possibly make a grown man choose a reclusive existence and have such a strong distaste for other human beings?” …. Well, I won’t tell you what it is but the answer was HEART BREAKING!! It also explained everything. It made me desperately wish I could hug him but most of all it made me genuinely understand him. All of a sudden all of his “strange” behaviour and actions made sense.
“People who have seen real life monsters up close will never feel understood by people who haven’t. What those people don’t understand, is that we still see those monsters, everyday.”
I really love seeing strong heroines such as Sam. While Kade was absolutely an Alpha, she was the one who saved him and I absolutely love that.
“Everything that happened… to me… is stained here,” I whisper, touching my hand to my heart. “It will forever be in my heart, but what I want, Sam is to move it over a little so I can fit you in there too.”
Guys, I need to say this again — the WRITING was awesome!!!! Smart, snappy, intelligent — it kept me highlighting like crazy. It was brilliant. I was right there in the story. The style was so real – very direct and so visually rich. With a great balance between darkness and humor. I had a very hard time choosing only a few quotes to include with this review. For example, I loved the banter…
“It’s too early to laugh,” I mumbled…
“Why? Do you hate morning people?” she asked, smiling.
“It has nothing to do with morning… it’s the people part.” I retorted…
“Mr. Grayson, your charm is showing. You might want to tuck it back in.”
I loved the humor…
“Coitus Interruptus!” I screamed. “Stop and put your hands where I can see them.”
I loved the descriptions…
“This was bad. This had BAD written all the fuck over it. This… this is just a morbid filled ice cream cone dipped in psycho flavoured sprinkles.”
And I loved the randomest lines that just made me smile…
“I’ve been to his place; he lives in harmony with his dust bunnies.”
Ok now the ending got intense!! Ohhhh my gosh there was a scene that had my heart in my THROAT!!!! Worst nightmare!! And, while I’ll admit it did feel a touch over-dramatic, I was really grateful to have all my questions in full detail.
I’m happy to say that there is no cliffhanger at the end. If you wanted, you could in fact read this as a standalone novel but there is an optional teaser chapter at the end that leaves you wanting more. Luckily, the next book is out though so you can go straight on to it if you want 🙂
Overall, this was really a wonderful read! Fantastic writing, great characters, and a fast-paced, gripping story that I could not put down. I loved it and would definitely recommend adding it to your reading lists!!
Rating: 4.5 stars
*** SERIES READING ORDER ***
Please note: Book #1 can be read as a standalone if you wish.
Book #2 is a direct continuation of the story in the first book and is not a standalone.