Review: Beast – A Twisted Fairytale

Reviewed by Shelly

I appreciate a good retelling of an old tale. Beast tells the story of Ashleigh Dalton, the plus-size person in her group of friends. She’s mid-thirties, successful in her career as an analyst for the government; looking from the outside in you would think she’s got it all together – except she’s just found out that her boyfriend of three years just married his ‘other’ girlfriend of six months. Lt. Christopher Jameson, 6’7” – 302lbs, Special Ops Marine, works in the same building as Ashleigh. After meeting in the company gym, the sparks fly between these two.

I’ve read some of Pace’s other work and I think that there’s a lot of story telling talent there, so it was with a pleasant surprise that I saw this recent publication and I literally couldn’t wait to sit back and relax with Ashleigh and Christopher.

Ashleigh is one of the most immature characters I’ve read in a long time, and I didn’t see a substantial change by the end. I should have suspected when she introduced herself to Christopher she not only gave him her name, she also gave him the spelled version ‘with a gh’. Really, you’re over 12 – that should have already fallen out of your introductory vocabulary. But I digress. After finding out about her very good looking boyfriend’s betrayal, Ashleigh decides that she’ll start losing weight because she’s realized that good looking men don’t want size 22 women (umm…gentlemen – is that true?). There’s a whole backstory about the Ashleigh’s behavior with her ex-boyfriend that I found very disturbing. After going to the gym a few mornings, the guy with the nice butt and great legs wearing a hoodie begins leaving his workout music for Ashleigh to enjoy setting the foundation for her and Christopher’s growing friendship.

Christopher is a country boy through and through. He’s got the drawl and the homegrown manners that make his Mom proud. His friends, who are all Special Ops, call him Beast –not because of his misshaped facial aesthetics due to bilateral cleft palate– but because he’s a beast on the field of combat. I really, really liked Christopher and I thought he could do so much better than Ashleigh. (*spoiler*) One of Ashley’s many problems is not that she’s a foodie, but that she’s bulimic, and I’m not convinced that’s a topic handled well in this romance novel even more so complicated by pregnancy. There are so many issues surrounding that and none of them were addressed with the gravity that they deserved.

There were quite a few other things that I struggled with Ashleigh and Christopher’s behavior. The first time that they have sex, she tells him that she’s on the pill (remember she’s been ‘on the pill’ ONLY with a cheating ex-boyfriend) and Christopher says okay. You know what – you deserve what you get! I got past that. Because of her disease, Ashley’s a liar when it comes to her food binges especially after finding out that she’s been diagnosed with a life threatening illness. The list goes on and on of all the things I just couldn’t connect with and didn’t understand how a relatively mature businesswoman would feel and act the way Ashleigh did.

Her best friends, Kendra and Lance, offered some interesting side commentary but in the end, I didn’t care. Kendra could have been a good friend but she wasn’t given the chance. Her single-dimension role was to be the pretty perfect friend who didn’t have anything else too offer. Lance got on my nerves with his excitable ‘screaming’, he was too over-the-top effeminate for my taste. Christopher’s family was the typical hillbilly folks who just couldn’t understand the government that Christopher served and Ashleigh worked for, but they were smart enough to just want Christopher happy (insert a plethora of sarcasm).

I really wanted to enjoy this story but I just couldn’t, I found this story to be more twisted than fairytale.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: D

Click to purchase: Amazon
by Pepper Pace
Release Date: September 22, 2012

Review: Someone to Love

Reviewed by Shelly

This is a really short read (about 44 pages) and it’s a bit of a punch in the gut in how its characters are so anti-hero/heroine.

Because of her scarred face Raina has retreated into herself. Working for the same company, she and Bill the Junkie embark on what has the potential to change both of their lives.

Now folks because this is a short read, the review will follow suit. What I really liked about this story was the potential for something great but I didn’t read that at all and I was sorely disappointed. What I read was the day in the life of a junkie who wanted to stay a junkie and a physically scarred girl who I had absolutely NO sympathy for once I found out how she got her scars. The penance she’s paying I thought was very fitting and well deserved. Before you think I’m being harsh, you have to read the reason why Raina’s face is scarred; she’s not an innocent at all.

Did I think that these two should be together? I wouldn’t say that they should but then again I guess it’s hard to create solid characters in 44 pages. The end was a very rushed and way too easy, all I could do was shake my head and call BS on that.

I’ll say this – it’s great to have good writers who have a knack for writing imperfect but redeemable characters but there’s got to be something that I/we the readers can empathize with and invest our emotions (and dollars) into. I’ve had good luck with Pace’s novels in the past and I’m sure I will again because with every good writer there will be hits and misses.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: C

Click to purchase: Amazon
Someone to Love
by Pepper Pace
Release Date: August 4, 2012

Review: They Say Love is Blind

Reviewed by Shelly

This is my second Pepper Pace novel and Pace has a new fan. When I read the blurb for this book I wasn’t sure what to expect. The concept sounded interesting, but an interesting concept does not always make a good book. This is a good book.

Overweight, but pretty, Tory is socially ostracized because of her weight. She’s been told the line every woman hates to hear “you have such a pretty face, if only you would lose some weight.”  Unfortunately, yes, people still say that. Making her isolation that much more, she’s an only-child living in another state from her parents with whom she has a very good relationship. Even more discouraging, Tory has not one iota of a social life and no friends –  zero, zilch, nada-one. All this would make you think that this poor girl is a loser, but she’s far from that.

Every morning she’s late catching her bus to get to work and every morning she has to run to catch it only to have the bus driver make that sudden lurch once the doors close. If you’ve ever ridden public transportation, you’ll know the lurch I mean (arghh). Anyhoo, one day that sudden lurch is the answer to all of Tory’s dreams – finding a man who will love all of her, not just her pretty face. On that glorious day, Tory accidentally falls into the lap of Lee Torres, fellow commuter. Then, through a series of events, Tory finds out Lee’s not-so-secret secret.

Once her relationship with Lee begins, Tory has to make some confessions that are hard, but necessary, if they’re to have a future. Tory is a girl who has been through some troubles in her life. If the mention of rape upsets or makes you uncomfortable, well then prepare to be upset or uncomfortable.

There’s really good character development in this story. Lee, who seems to have it all worked out, and Mr. I Can Take Care of Myself has his own battles to bear, both internally and with his family and even with Tory. And Tory just made me plain ole proud, when she started standing up for herself and not just to Lee’s big and boisterous family, but to the love of her life as well. It was so refreshing to see that she was not a push-over when it came to him because when Lee does some crap that rightfully pisses off Tory, she didn’t let him off easy. Oh no, although she still loved him, she made him see what he did to hurt her. Go Tory!

There are a lot of other small story lines that really complement the main one very well. Lee’s parents and many siblings were a hoot to read about. And while the antagonist is a close-knit friend there’s nothing that’s forced or unrealistic about that part of the story. And just in case you’re wondering, yeah the sex between Lee and Tory is pretty darn good.

I really enjoyed this story that emphasizes love really is blind and I’ll definitely read more from this author.

Happy reading folks!

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon
They Say Love is Blind
by Pepper Pace
Release Date: July 21, 2012