Book Review – Brutally Beautiful by Christine Zolendz

by Maryse on January 9, 2014 · 9 comments

in My Book Reviews

Brutally Beautiful
Pure entertainment from start to finish. So good, cleverly written and it mostly had it all. Great story flow, intense tension between two adults (strangers) that can’t stand each other at first (with good reason!), but have that undeniable pull, despite their resistance. Big time secrets and tragic pasts (but wait, you’ll see! <— the craziness!) that ruled their current lives. Adrenaline-inducing parts with a twist-reveal (or two), a small entourage of loving family and friends and… a strip club. :P Fun times!

Kade is a “GQ-handsome”, yet pessimistic, sexist, brooding successful author (and I mean brooding in the “I hate the world!” sense… not just brooding ’cause he’s too “cool”). Plus, he’s a total hermit, so you know the type. Not that cool at all. And he doesn’t want to be.

Notoriously introverted, I have mastered the art of hiding myself and detaching from everything. I learned a valuable lesson once. If I stayed silent for long enough and just watched long enough, people and life would pass me by, as if I were invisible. Or dead.

Lainey’s a strong-willed, OCD-ish, quick-witted, but compassionate heroine that won’t fall for his poop! There’s only so far her compassion will go. At least… at first. ;) Yep, he’s hot, but his attitude stinks. And I mean UGH!!! What an ASS! <— (side note: Matt Sky anyone? OH YES!!! If you’ve read “Night Owl” and are looking for a hero with that feel, look no further. Kade reminded me of Matt (in all of his infuriating ways). And you know me… I love watching them succumb, even when they think they’ve got a handle on it. Tee hee!!

So anyway, they’re both running away from their pasts… and with good reason. Eeeeeep!! I don’t know who’s nightmare was worse (well, in a way I do, but I wouldn’t wish either of what they’re running away from on anyone), but I loved exploring their journey with them.

And it came HIGHLY recommended, so it was on my radar already (plus, I LOVED this author’s first book from another series like crazy, so I was already very intrigued). But it was when I received THIS recommendation from my trustie-fellow reader “Lori” that I knew it was a go!

Lori: ok Maryse, I’m sharing after hoarding Night Owl all to myself! LOL I would love for you to check our Brutally Beautiful, I posted on your page. I loved Kade at least as much as Matt, maybe more! I think crazy is my new thing haha… let me know what you think, it can’t just be me… I laughed out loud, but it’s pretty dark too

Side note: we had to put her in the book-corner for a time-out ’cause she’s a bit of a “good-book secret keeper”. It appears when she loves a book, she *might* forget to tell us. And we found this out when she read “Night Owl” before the bunch of us, loved it and kept it a secret. Brat!! :P I think there was another one she did that with, too.

But you did good, Lori. This one hit the spot!

Now, upon it’s release, I received at least six adamant recommendations for it via my email and comments left on our Facebook page all in one day (before Lori’s). So I think many of you were looking out for us when you found this gem. Thank you to each of you!! Y’all were spot on. I mean… just look at these comments jumping in with me!

Maryse’s Book Blog: I just got home from work and I’m ready to read! AND!! I’m going in blind, forsaking my TBR list and will be starting “Brutally Beautiful” by Christine Zolendz. Lori just told me (and has been telling all of us) that this is a MUST-READ. She’s been ranting and raving for hours now (the whole day?) and since she and I have VERY similar book-tastes, I’m in!

And… I won’t even bother reading the synopsis, ’cause I think it’ll be more fun this way! I’m going on her word alone (well, actually the word of many fellow readers the last few days – it seems so many are loving it). I can’t wait to start!

Lori: OMG no pressure Maryse! haha I hope you don’t hate it!

Maryse’s Book Blog: LOL!! You should see the amount of recommendations I received for it over the last couple of days. You’re not the only one. You’re just the loudest. ;)

Lori: oh good, I was hoping it wasn’t just me!! I just wanted to make sure you knew I was no longer a selfish book hoarder…LOL

Maryse’s Book Blog: Lori you can officially come out of the bad-girl “book hoarder” corner!

Lori: Finally!!

Sarah: I agree!! You will love it!

Tracy: I am reading it now & it is So Good !!

Kathy: I really liked this one!

Rebecca: I really enjoyed it!!

Carol: You will love every second of it. Christine Zolendz really outdid herself with this one. Just wait…..

Kayla: Just finished it literally 2 minutes ago! My heart is still pounding! Love Christine Zolendz!

Summer: I am 80% and I like it. It did not grab me like RAW did but it’s still really good and intense.

Destini: You won’t be able to put it down!!!!

Tracie: Brutally Beautiful was fantastic!! It has such a dark feel to it and the writing is phenomenal. I love this book.

Stacey: Just finished if fan-freaken-tastic!!!! Love her!!!!

Shan: I LOVE her writing — I think this will be first of the new year! Yep…getting it now!

Emma: Maryse, I am at 44% and just learned why Kade is the way he is…. OMG! This is soooo good…

Maryse’s Book Blog: So far soooooo good!! I know why u’re comparing him to Matt in Night Owl, Lori… He’s just such an angry ass! Plus he’s an arrogant male author. Perfect! Loving it. And! Fantastic writing.

Kandace: I am so excited you’re reading this. They are so hilariously broken! Lori and I have been messaging all day and saying how much we loved it!

Cindy: Just finished! It was fabulous! The epilogue was perfect!

Lori: So glad you’re liking it Maryse. Yes, he’s just so broken, angry, and all kinds of crazy…once you get in his head…oh you’ll see! Haha … And not to make anyone think this is comedy, this is a dark book!

Kristi: Lori, I’m so with you. Love these dark, crazy books. I loved, loved, loved him!!! I thought the writing was fantastic too!!

Lori: It really was Kristi!! I think crazy is my new thing – loved loved him too! Love how out of control he is, and that whole stalking thing…LOL

Kristi: The stalking this was HYSTERICAL!!!! Just being inside his head (for the first part of the book) was funny. I think we all love these broken, twisted Men….can’t help it!!!

Lori: Then the last half was just heartbreaking…I cannot wait for you know who’s story!!

Kristi: I know me too!!! I want to know MORE. ^^^^^ The second half was so, so tragic and real. Emotional and sad.

Becky: So, I purposely avoided all reviews of and blurbs of BB so I had NO idea what I was getting into. Funny thing is, I’m at 12% and still have no idea what is up. Regardless, I am IN, like 100% in and trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Just wow.

Di-Ann: Such unique writing. I really really really enjoyed this book!

Kandace: This is a darker book but I find his thoughts witty. Its hard to explain. When you learn their stories you’ll have the “feels”. I love the way this author told their story.

Tracie: I loved Christine’s Mad World Series but she stepped it up big time in BB. The writing was totally fantastic. I felt like I was right there! I can’t wait for the next one.

Maryse’s Book Blog: “Lainey, just dip it in the sauce. This sauce is delicious. You have to try it. Dip it in the sauce. Just dip it in the sauce.” He pushed.

“What the hell kind of sauce fetish owns this moron?”

Tee heeeeeeee!! Oh yah, Fran is… *hrmph* Nope. But I just LOVED her reaction to him. This is good, you guys!

Kandace: ↑↑↑ I laughed so hard at that! I loved the whole stalking thing, my favorite part! He’s like the worst stalker EVER! I just finished. .phew.. that ending. Geez! I didn’t know what to think. AWESOME BOOK!

Melissa: AMAZING BOOK !! So well written .

Kandace: standalone but there will be a second book. If she didn’t write a second book I would be satisfied with the ending.

Agreed Kandace. I’m good… but I could still live with them for at least another book. And I have some questions… about… you know. Grrrrr!

So what’s it about?

Lainey, bloody, battered and bruised is hightailing it out of dodge with her best friend (also battered and bruised) Bree.

When the reality of the situation hit me, I looked at her, “We need new names, don’t we? And we need to get rid of my car.”

We gave each other a measured stare. Without a doubt, we both knew there was no fixing this situation. We did what we had to do, and now we had to move on. There was no going back, and truthfully, I was so relieved. I inhaled deeply, and then slowly puffed out my breath. Even thought it hurt like mad, I smiled. I was free.

Seven hours of driving away (and exhaustion, and maybe even blood loss setting in), they call it a day in a smallish town, needing a bathroom break and in desperate need of a drink. Lo and behold, the strip club they pull into looks as good as anything at this point.

The very cute bartender (Dylan), noticing their abused appearance takes extra care of them for the evening, and while he doesn’t get much out of them in regards to what happened, realizes they need help, are in town for awhile and offers them waitressing jobs.

Lainey and Bree make the most out of their surroundings, renting a beat-up trailer in a trailer park (Lainey’s OCD kicks in and she makes it immaculate cute and cozy – I could totally see it!), and they work their butts off to start over again. But when Lainey runs into Dylan’s antagonistic and misogynistic brother, Kade, her newfound start hits a bump in the road. ‘Cause while Kade eyes her lovingly as if he just saw an angel, when she approaches him to take his order, his caustic attitude infuriates her.

“Hello, I’m Lainey. What may I get for you today?”

Kade looked up, but his glare didn’t reach my eyes. He just looked at my shoulder, or just above it. His dark brows furrowed together and his lips turned down like he was appalled at my question, his face hard as granite. “Another waitress,” he growled darkly.

Hot maybe. Ass, definitely!

“Now go make yourself useful, shake your pretty ass up there for me and earn yourself a year’s salary. Maybe you could buy yourself something pretty with the money. And, don’t call me Kade. It’s Mr. Grayson, since it’s your job to serve me.”

Ugh!!! As if!!!!

;) And that will stamp out any steamy potential for an independent and sick-of-it heroine. But for me (the reader)? Ultimate titillation!!! YES ma’am! Bring it. Tee hee!

So that’s where I’m leaving it.

Kade has issues by the boatload, and he’s not a people person in the least. In fact, just showing up at his brother’s bar is mind-blowing enough. But showing up again? And again? Hehe. Yah… like I said. Fun times!! And sad times. And dark times.

This book is funny, witty, sweet and endearing. Kade, even in all of his ROARish ways, made me grin ’cause he’s just such a… I dunno. Goof? Innocent? I mean come on! As the girls said… worst stalker ever. And the most fun of ‘em all! But even in all of it’s “fun”, it’s also dark. There’s a reason he is the way he is.

I had no idea what I would find when I looked up Kade. What could possibly make an entire town fear him? What could possibly make a grown man choose a reclusive existence and have such a strong distaste of other human beings?

And there’s a reason she’s running.

People who have seen real life monsters up close will never be understood by people who haven’t. What those people don’t understand, is that we still see those monsters, everyday.

And we get answers… twists and turns and a part where I totally what what whaaaaaat-ed?!!! Oh noooo!! But there’s more. And I know book #2 will give us even more than that.

Cliffhanger? No, not really.

But a definite possibility for a “to be continued”. This story is too big for a one book standalone. And I’m so in for more!

4 stars!

No complaints from me, overall. The only thing I could say (personally) is I didn’t fall head-over-heels for Kade, or have excessive butterflies or slow-motion reading due to hardcore crushing… (which I LOVE to do since that deep feeling often influences me in 5-starring a book). But I think I was too wrapped up in where it was going (and all of my “reveal-anticipation”) to fall in love, this time. Still, though, he most certainly has “book boyfriend” potential.

P.S. Thank you to the author for sending me a review copy. You (and your writing) rocks!

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Lise January 9, 2014 at 9:09 PM

Yay… Love the review, Maryse and I loved this book! :-)

Minha January 9, 2014 at 9:51 PM

Loved…Looooved the book… And your review is just perfect and fun!! It’s like you know what I am thinking… thank you for putting my thoughts in your fun writing and book sharing… LoL

Maryse January 9, 2014 at 9:56 PM

LOL!!! Thanks guys. It’s my pleasure and quite fun that we read the book in the same way. :P

Michelle January 10, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Hi all,

Just how dark would you say the book is? The review and other reader interest definitely has me wanting to buy this one, but I have to say Night Owl wasn’t my favorite (or 50 Shades etc.)… Please don’t throw rocks at me

Maryse January 10, 2014 at 10:06 AM

It’s more emotional-dark because of the horrors they’ve experienced and are trying to overcome (or at least cope with). Monsters have hurt them. Not the paranormal kind… the human kind.

Jeannie Smith January 10, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Is it strange that his really asinine comments make me want to read this book?

Laura January 11, 2014 at 5:10 AM

Ok I’m going to read this because I’ve just finished raw. I think that’s enough said :(

Sarah January 11, 2014 at 4:55 PM

This one hit me like a freight train! Loved loved loved it! Great review maryse, thanks for keeping my TBR full and constantly changing!

Gabby January 11, 2014 at 9:14 PM

Loveeeeeee it! It wasn’t as “Dark” as I thought it was going to be but I love it from beggining to end. I haven’t read a book I didn’t like in so long thanks to this blog :)

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