How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days (The Embraced, #1) by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #1
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
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Luciana grew up on the Isle of Moon, hidden away because of her magical powers. But when her father arrives, he offers her a choice: remain on the island or return with him and marry the Beast of Benwick in order to save their legacy—and her father's life.
Lord Leofric, the Beast of Benwick, has not been touched since he was a child. Born with the power to harness lightning, he is a danger to everyone he touches. When he meets his betrothed, he expects a loveless, lonely marriage...until he discovers she's vastly more powerful than he realized. But is she strong enough to withstand his touch?
If they can survive, their love will alter the future of the kingdom. But will their extraordinary powers cost them everything?
This book is somewhat inspired by Beauty and the Beast, though to be honest it’s only very loosely related. In this story, the man with the Beast moniker is Lord Leofric, Leo for short. Leo is one of The Embraced, people born with supernatural powers. Normally The Embraced are killed when they are born because the world fears them, but Leo escapes that fate because he’s part of the royal family and because he’s so dangerous that he’s hard to kill. He can harness the power of lightning, and one touch of his skin can kill (and has, many times). He uses his power to protect his people, but they all are terrified and basically shun him. Luciana is also Embraced, but she escaped death by being hidden away in a convent her entire life, thinking her family was dead. It turns out they’re not, though, and because of political machinations by the cruel king, the only way she can save her father is by marrying The Beast. Luciana could be killed if she reveals the truth of her story to Leo, but if they don’t work together they can’t stop the king’s evil plots.
If you like tortured heroes, Leo should appeal! He does have a few friends, but for the most part he lives in isolation. People literally turn away from him in disgust and fear, yet he soldiers on using his power to protect his people even though they think he’s the one causing danger instead of stopping it. Moreover, harnessing the lightning is excruciatingly painful, and he’s pushing his body to its limits by doing it because he wants to protect others, which is a hell of a position for him to be in. Perhaps most heartbreaking of all, he can’t touch. He can’t be hugged, can’t hold hands, can’t even get a pat on the head, because even through clothing his power will injure or kill. Luciana is the only person apart from a few friends who sees the good Leo does instead of believing the rumors. There’s one scene where bystanders once again misinterpret a situation and think Leo is behind something dangerous, but Luciana loudly and publicly defends him. That scene just made my heart melt. It was clearly the first time anyone had ever stood up for Leo before; I’m smiling just thinking about it. The sexual tension between them is great, too. As you can imagine, “no touching or you’ll die” is quite the conundrum in a romance! I won’t tell you the hows and whys, but I can assure you this book is sexy.
I liked Luciana a lot as well. Her power is that she can talk to the dead, which comes in handy when she’s trying to learn about her new life. She’s sweet and kind and patient, but she’s not a particularly deep character. Really, though, neither is Leo. He has a lot of pain, but I almost felt like it didn’t impact his character as much as one would expect. He has been very isolated, yet he still is perfectly socially adept, flirting with his bride-to-be, handling the management of his estates, working with his army, etc. I just didn’t see a lot of consequences to his isolation.
Luciana has to lie to Leo and everyone else to save her father, which is perfectly understandable. She obviously didn’t know Leo and would have been foolish to trust him quickly. However, I really wanted her to come clean sooner, simply because I wanted to see her and Leo’s relationship develop further. Leo basically figures it all out on his own (and I appreciate that he absolutely accepts why she’s lying and doesn’t act all butt hurt about it), but the actual conversation between the two is a long time coming. Combine the secrets with the draggy pace in some parts and the fairly limited contact Leo and Luciana have for part of the book and you have a romance that never goes quite as deep as I would have liked.
I am extremely interested in the world Sparks has created, and I am hoping that future books won’t need to do as much world building as this one, leaving more time for developing the characters and relationships.
Grade: 3.5 out of 5