Start with a Bang
I love that the action starts right away, that you never have to wait long in a Finley Fenn book for the heroine to meet her orc. And how perfectly incongruous it is to have an orc offer a handkerchief!
Fenn is so good at crafting heroines who yearn to be wanted, who carry such fierce longing, too big for the men in their life. They need an orc to fill the gaping wound of their need. And here Kitty meets an orc at a pub, with a wound just like hers, both with an orc-sized hole in their heart. And what a mess they make of things! After their night together, he runs, and poor Kitty finds herself sick, homeless, broke, and abandoned. When she stumbles into another orc, the pain of their circumstances is so exquisite. I love it.
That first meeting of all three is so heartbreaking. Varinn’s careless words about Kitty are so painful, hammering away at that emotional wound of hers and making it bigger and bigger. But then, he’s unexpectedly juggling two broken people, and his own hurt, so he’s bound to fuck up.
How they all find their way out of this tangled, broken mess is a beautiful, tender, emotional story that had me crying all the way through — and books that make me cry are the best books.
Kitty: Her love language are acts of service, helping people, finding and giving them what they need to be happy, and so she fits perfectly into Clan Grisk, the cuddly care bears of Orc Mountain. And despite her harrowing past, she has the strength to take the lessons she was forced to learn — be friendly, be fun, be helpful — and use them to thrive. Once she’s shown appreciation for her talents by the orcs (who have a nose for sniffing out and celebrating talent, lol), she finally owns herself, and her power, and that’s so gratifying to watch. When Kitty finally overcomes her inner, self-deprecating voice, she flourishes.
Thrain: His struggle is real, and like Kitty’s in so many ways. But where she scrabbles to be even more pleasing, more helpful, more fun, to her own detriment, he turns to self destruction through drink, sabotaging his relationships and his happiness. He and Varinn are at an impasse where they can’t find a way out on their own anymore; they NEED Kitty to break them out of it. It’s so beautiful to see him come into his own and find happiness with Kitty’s help.
Varinn: Gawd, I love him. He’s easily one of my favorite orcs so far, right up there with John and Drafli. But he’s got such a heartwarming earnestness, too. Other orcs always have something up their sleeves, always keep secrets, with plans and machinations like the layers of a baumkuchen. Varinn’s just pure, honest-to-the-gods goodness. He’s caring, always there to help, and on top of that dripping with sexy AF dominance. But of course he’s flawed, too, trying to tackle too many problems alone, which leads to some high-handed and misguided attempts at fixing his relationships.
The sum of it all
From the moment Varinn and Kitty met and struck their deal, I was on tenterhooks, expecting it to come back to bite them — and it did, but in a completely unexpected way, and having my expectations subverted like that was fun. I had a real moment with Rosa there at the end.
This is my new favorite book in the Orc Sworn series, a must read for orc romance lovers. It’s tender, emotional, sweet, uplifting, and dripping with copious amounts of, ahem, good orc juice (so sticky and wet, but I’m here for it). It’s also angsty, but that’s what I love most. The Beauty and the Orcs turned me into a waterspout fountain. Loved, loved, loved it. (Also, the bonus epilogue is absolutely precious. Gah.)
Plus: Dammarr. Dammarr made me so happy. So, so happy. My heart just popped every time they took the scene. Leave it to Fenn to create a side plot that absolutely wrecked me in all the best ways.
CWs: allusions to CSA; substance abuse (alcohol), kidnapping. Kinks include (but are not limited to) power exchange and body modifications (piercings).
And then she slowly, carefully bent forward, and pressed her mouth to his boot. It was smooth beneath her lips, the scent musky and warm in her nostrils. And as she stayed bent there, breathing it in, it distantly, wildly occurred to her that the orc was watching this. He was… allowing this. Allowing her supplication, her pleading, her… worship.
- Sex worker heroine
- Found family
- Caring, supportive hero
- So much good orc seed