Beauty & the Beefcake by Pippa Grant (Ares!! *sigh*)
Release Date: May 17, 2018
My teammate’s sister?
She’s a can’t.
I moved in with her to protect her from a nasty ex, not to be the next guy in line.
She’s the brains.
I’m the brawn.
She’s the fruit.
I’m the sausage.
She talks too much.
I don’t talk at all, if I don’t have to.
Should be easy to resist her.
But every minute I spend with Felicity is another minute she gets under my skin. She makes me feel like something more than a dumb puckhead with a big Zamboni pony. And it’s getting harder to remember why I need to keep my hands to myself.
Beauty and the Beefcake is a vegan-friendly standalone romantic comedy featuring a hockey player whose vocabulary is the only thing smaller than a hockey puck, a book smart but aimless ventriloquist with too many voices in her head, a dilapidated old house that may or may not be haunted, and no cheating or cliffhangers.
With a hero who articulates in grunts and single words and a heroine who talks enough for six people, you wouldn’t think this book would be so enchanting, hilarious and holy-hades-hot, but that is the mastery and magic of Pippa Grant. Ares easily already had a place in my heart from the previous books, that whole still waters thing really piquing my curiosity, making me eager to learn more about him, but Felicity was a virtual unknown. Yeah, her throwing her voice at Manning's dinner party was a hilarious scene in “Royally Pucked,” but her being the sister of the Thrusters’ goalie, Nick Murphy, and a talented ventriloquist was about all we knew of her before this book.
One of the things that makes this book so great is the dual POV. The Ares chapters are the most concise I’ve seen, but he says a lot with a few words. Felicity more than makes up for it with her multiple puppet voices. Actually, that’s not really fair. Even without the puppets, the characters are omnipresent with Felicity and never hesitate to interject themselves in conversations or just talk among themselves. Okay, I know that sounds schizophrenic because the characters exist only in Felicity's mind which she then manifests through ventriloquist puppets, but they're actually strong, secondary characters in the book, and it's fascinating to watch Felicity use them to sort through puzzlements, argue with herself, provide comic relief, and express herself (and sometimes Ares) through these characters.
It makes me wonder if this isn’t another glimpse behind the curtain of Pippa Grant. If the characters of her books are as alive to Ms. Grant as Felicity's are to her, it explains why Grant's characters are so realistic for the reader. It's not only as vivid as watching a movie play out on the big screen, but it's like sitting in the same room with them. But it’s even more than that because I never laugh so hard or read such creative cursing and other made up expressions as when I read one of Grant's books. She puts the “com" in rom-com, but there's still plenty of heart, emotion and tender moments, so reading her work is an all-consuming, fully engaged, visceral experience. Somehow, she manages the perfect push and pull between snarky and tender, and humor and heart. She leaves her readers hung over on these amazing characters, with a stitch in their sides and a huge happy sigh.
If this book does nothing else, it gives hope that there’s someone for everyone. Not someone perfect, but someone whose quirks and crazy are the perfect complement for that one person. Ares and Felicity are that person for each other. Felicity is a scary smart genius with four college degrees but still looking for the place she fits in life. Ares personifies a scary, dumb brute but Felicity sees deeper, clear down to his soul. Felicity says it best, that being with Ares “isn’t about power. Strength. Ritual. It’s about a magnetic force of connection. It’s about butterfly wings in my belly. It’s about craving, but also about fitting.” And with Felicity, Ares finds a place he fits, saying “I’m finally where I’m supposed to be. Where I never thought I’d find. A home. For my heart.” “Everything. She’s my everything. The last piece to my puzzle.” For a man of few words, he makes every one count.
It's always bittersweet when I finish reading a Grant book. It's supremely satisfying to get more of these incredible characters, but I’m always sad to get to the last page. I don’t know how long this series will continue, but into infinity would suit me. If there are a hundred books in this series, it won’t be enough for me. If you’ve read any books in this series, you certainly don’t need my encouragement to buy this one since you've probably already reading it. If you've not familiar with this author or series, grab this one today. It sounds corny to say a romance novel has the potential to be life altering, but Grant's work does. The tenderness will heal heartaches, the happily ever after journey will inspire hope, and the humor will brighten a dreary day.