Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Do you ever have an author who whispers themselves onto your “must-read” list? You didn’t expect them, but they found a solid place with one book. For me, this is J.T. Geissinger. I read a blurb for her last book, Rules of Engagement, and something about it grabbed my attention. To be honest, I was hopeful, but I didn’t go into that read with high expectations. I simply wanted to read a new author to me. What happened was a revelation. I fell hard for that story and Geissinger’s easy, affable writing style. In fact, the review I wrote for that book has one of my highest review “like” counts on Goodreads. There was something that piqued my interest in her that cemented her place as a forever read.
When the ARC sign-up was offered for her newest book, Beautifully Cruel, I jumped at the chance to read it. Like Rules of Engagement, she pulled me into the story and held me there much as her hero, Liam Black, holds Truvy “Tru” Sullivan “hostage” in his penthouse. I began it right before going to bed one night and woke up the next day to finish it. I hated to turn the page because I burned through the story, and I wanted to exist a bit longer in Liam and Truvy’s story.
Truvy is a server in a diner. For almost a year, Liam Black comes to her diner, sits broodingly in a booth in Truvy’s section, and drinks coffee, while overtly staring at her. There is an attraction between these two, but Truvy, a bit of a loner, tries to avoid engaging him. She’s drawn to him, but his persona feels overwhelming. One day, these finally make small talk, and it’s clear there is a chemistry and a similarity between them. However, Liam’s life is complicated, and he knows he’s a danger to Truvy. He vows to keep his distance, except that this is easier said than done. The next night, Truvy is taking out the trash to a dumpster behind the diner, and she is brutally assaulted. Believing she will die, Liam unexpectedly shows up and saves her from certain death. From there, they begin a journey together, one set to end after twenty-eight days. The problem, though, is love is a certainty between these two. Will they find a future together, or are they destined for broken hearts at the end of their time together?
Every moment of this book is a carefully wrought story of love amidst challenges. Truvy and Liam come from two very different lives. However, they complete each other in ways that are unexpected. Truvy becomes the catalyst for Liam’s eventual life change; however, while these two come from two very different lives, their personal struggles are the same. Geissinger walks her reader beautifully through ideas related to justice and revenge. Both Truvy and Liam are faced with meting out justice when the system fails. There are profound moments in Truvy and Liam’s time together when they must examine their ideas on this, and in those moments, their relationship gains depth and gravity.
At its surface, Truvy and Liam’s relationship is fiery. Truvy pushes back against Liam’s alpha-male tendencies, and her passion and obstinancy, along with her integrity and intelligence, spark their chemistry. Each moment these two exist on the page together, you’re pulled further into Geissinger’s book. When their twenty-eight days are nigh, your concern for a possible happy ending for these two is palpable (at least that was the case for me). I consider Geissinger’s ability to craft the anxiety and believability of this moment illustrates her capacity as a storyteller.
There is nothing better in romance than a woman who, while introverted, knows herself, knows her mind, and stands in her indomitable spirit. When that is matched with a man with a tendency towards violence, a passionate will, and a focus so keen on the heroine that it overflows the story, you have, in my opinion, the perfect romantic story. The manner in which Truvy and Liam love each other in Beautifully Cruel is the power force for this book. I didn’t want to look away; I didn’t want to turn the page. I wanted to exist within the colorful, quiet, fierce love between these two. If you haven’t read J.T. Geissinger, honestly, start here especially if you love a bit of a dangerous romance. I think you’ll agree with me that Geissinger’s books should have a reserved space on your Kindle or bookcase.
In love and romance,