Beauty and the Billionaire
Intermix / July 16, 2013 / $2.99 digital
Real-estate tycoon Hunter Buchanan has a dark past that’s left him scarred and living as a recluse on his family’s palatial estate. Hunter is ready to give up on love—until he spots an enigmatic red-haired beauty and comes up with an elaborate scheme to meet her.
Gretchen Petty is in need of a paycheck—and a change. So when a job opportunity in an upstate New York mansion pops up she accepts. And while she can overlook the oddities of her new job, she can’t ignore her new boss’s delectable body—or his barely leashed temper.
Hunter’s afraid his plan might be unraveling before it’s truly begun, but Gretchen is about to show him that life can be full of surprises…
I loved this book. I've been saying I'm over billionaires, so it says something about how good this book is that I loved it so much. The first in this series, Stranded with a Billionaire, was like a Harlequin Presents perfected. But Beauty and the Billionaire is even more perfect.
The story is based on Beauty and the Beast, but isn't a direct copy. The setting is a c̶a̶s̶t̶l̶e̶ an estate in America. At the estate, the scarred and reclusive billionaire engineers a situation where the heroine has to stay with him. The heroine, Gretchen, is a writer. The hero Hunter Buchanan is a property mogul, and Gretchen is a ghost writer.
BatB is almost a study in what a romance should be. There isn't a lot of “outside noise”—no distractions and drama written in just for the sake of it. The reader gets a really good idea as to who Hunter and Gretchen are. It helps if you've read the first book, but it definitely stands alone. But there still is a lot of chaos because that's how life is. In fact, we have a drunken star crash a party—and yet it's something that makes sense, it's not Ms. Clare reaching for drama. Family that you don't want to see always shows up at the worst moments.
BatB is all about two people getting to know each other, about each other, and the journey towards their falling in love. Although they're in the same house, life goes on, and what I liked is that Gretchen wasn't completely cut off from the world. Hunter, in fact, went out as well, as an actual businessman would have to do, despite how disgustingly wealthy he is, and the fact that he prefers being holed up.
In fact, there's so much character growth and development that Hunter and Gretchen would have been “okay” if they didn't end up together. But the impetus is their relationship and feelings for each other, and it's sappy, but they're better together. Gretchen pushes Hunter outside his comfort zone, and at first, his comfort zone is the size of a hula hoop. Hunter, for his part, helps Gretchen reevaluate her life, and make positive steps toward her happiness and career. They're perfect together because Gretchen doesn't“see past” Hunter's scars—she sees them and she likes them. Not in some fetishist way, but it makes him “more approachable.”With Gretchen focusing on his scars, it helps Hunter to accept them and open up, instead of just ignoring the issues and closeting them away.
Although it's initially easier to feel like you 'know' Gretchen better than Hunter, there are subtleties to Hunter that resonate as you read. He's not just your “average alpha billionaire hero.” First of all, he has zero self confidence. He's badly scarred, and that's kept him from the public. Next, he's wealthy as Croesus, so that adds another layer of distance and distrust. Hunter has hidden depths, including being generous and romantic. He cultivates roses, which definitely ties into the Beauty and the Beast theme, but it's woven so perfectly throughout it doesn't feel like a borrow from another book.
Lest you think it's all feel good and humor, there is a lot of sexytimes and heat in this book. Gretchen totally seduces Hunter, and he's definitely on board. No need for detail or spoilers here.
What makes Beauty and the Billionaire so wonderful is the balance of the romance and the reality, the characters themselves and their depth, the realism and yet how everything works out perfectly as it's supposed to in romanceland...Happily Ever After.
Learn more about or order a copy of Jessica Clare's Beauty and the Billionaire, out July 16: