Friday, June 17, 2016

Beauty Inc. by Tara Lain: Blog Tour with giveaway and review


Is beauty only skin deep?

Chemist Dr. Robert “Belle” Belleterre loves flowers, green trees, his best friend Judy, and “his baby”: the new face cream he developed to help put his father’s small cosmetics company on the map. Sadly he gets no help from his alcoholic, gambling-addicted father who loses Belle in a poker game to Magnus Strong, the CEO of Beauty, Inc. the largest American cosmetics company—a man infamous for his scarred ugliness.

Belle finds himself uprooted from his home, living in a wildly crazy apartment in New York owned by Mr. Pennymaker, and completely unprepared for his mad attraction to the charismatic Strong. Feeling like a traitor, Belle fights his passion only to see more and more of the goodness and humility hidden by Strong’s ugly face. But when Belle’s family starts manipulating his life again, the odds turn against happiness for beautiful Belle and his beloved beast.


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Excerpt 

 Magnus stared at the photo he kept in the top drawer. Quit being sappy. Still, helping Judy Brancoli brought it all back. He sighed. A good reason to stick with other philanthropies.
 Is someone here?
 He looked up just as Belle stepped into his doorway. His heart skipped. What did Belle’s expression mean? Confusion? Anger? Hope? “Hello.”
 Belle swallowed hard. “Are you the one who called Judy last night?”
 Okay, what had he done now? “Uh, yes. I—I thought—it was so late, and no one else was here.”
 “You had a ticket waiting for her at the airport and got Leroy to meet her?”
 “Yes.”
 “And gave her a job and insurance?”
 “I talked to HR, yes.”
 Some huge storm battled behind Belle’s midnight blue eyes. He didn’t seem to be able to catch his breath. He just gasped and clutched his chest. Magnus stood. “Are you okay? Can I get you water?”
 Suddenly Belle took off like a gazelle that had spotted a lion—except he ran to the lion. In three bounding steps, he crossed the office and hurled himself at Magnus. Before Magnus could prepare, a tall, slim body hit him full force, arms wrapping around his neck. “Thank you. Thank you. Oh my God, how can I ever thank you?”
 Magnus lost his balance and staggered, arms coming around Belle, falling until his butt hit the office chair, which rolled back. They smacked the wall with Belle sprawled on his lap. He gasped for breath, and the exhale came out as a laugh. It was like having the world’s cutest dalmatian on his lap—a dalmatian he’d like to kiss and embrace and otherwise manhandle. Dream on.
 Belle kept hugging and muttering, “Thank you. Thank you.”
 Magnus adjusted Belle a little so he was actually sitting on Magnus’s lap but didn’t make a big enough thing out of it to scare him off. Hell, this was a moment to savor and prolong.
 Finally Belle stopped wiggling, which was good, since the vibration was getting to Magnus’s cock. Belle stilled and seemed to hesitate. Reluctance or embarrassment? He sat back and looked into Magnus’s face. “Hi.”
 “Hi.” Magnus couldn’t help smiling, even though the effect wasn’t really friendly. “I’m very glad you’re happy.”
 “No one’s ever done such a wonderful thing for me before.”
 Magnus tried to be corporate and fatherly—very challenging in his current position. “It’s the mission of this company to help women.”
 “Yes, but this was very personal. I’ll be grateful all my life.”
 “I’m glad.” His heart beat so hard they both should have been able to hear it.
 Belle looked down at where he was firmly planted on Magnus’s lap. “I guess I was a bit more enthusiastic than I planned.”
 “You don’t hear me complaining.”
 Belle slowly looked up at Magnus’s face, which made Magnus want to cringe or hide. Too close. Belle cocked his head and inspected every inch of Magnus’s ruined landscape of a face. Slowly, he leaned forward and kissed the scar across the bridge of Magnus’s nose. He whispered, “In for a penny—” and his mouth moved south until he kissed the distorted corner of Magnus’s mouth.


Cryselle's Review

This latest reworked fairy tale from Tara Lain gives us a Beauty and the Beast with sweet, manipulated “Belle” and a wounded but goodhearted “Beast.” Tara Lain treats some heavy subjects in here, but with a light enough hand that the read doesn’t bog down in moralizing.

You know from the blurb that Belle’s family is screwed up beyond belief if his father can use a son as a wager and expect to pay off. Belle himself has a very strong sense of right and wrong, which he must have learned from his late mother, because the rest of the family certainly doesn’t have any. Fortunately, Magnus isn’t expecting favors, just the brilliance of a prodigy of a cosmetic chemist.

We’ve all known how this story ends since we were six, so here it’s the getting there that’s the fun. The author calls in Mr. Pennymaker, a cheerful meddler of a landlord and confidant, who shows up in other books in the series to help matters along, a la fairy godfather. Here his sage advice comes as probing questions to make the other characters think more deeply, and we should all have such a kind and level headed friend.

While we would all love to believe that we can see beyond the surface, the truth is so many people don’t look. Magnus, with his craggy, scarred features, doesn’t fare well in the gay dating market, and being in the cosmetics industry he stands out even more. Strength of personality he has in spades though, and the kind of heart that sees what needs doing plus the resources to make it happen. Even so, he is his own harshest critic.

The road to the happy ending is strewn with the speedbumps that come of this setup, plus the issues that arise with other secondary characters, some sweet, some snakes. It’s all woven together with one of the funniest, oddest sex scenes I’ve ever read.

A major subplot involves the health of someone dear to Belle, and while this was in the main done well, a few aspects of it pinned my personal rage-meter. I actually had to put the book down for a bit because of this, and many readers won’t have all the issues I did. However, it did fling me out of the story for a while, and I had to remind myself this was a fluffy read, not a serious read, before I could finish the book. I would say this is all on me except that the primary issue touches the lives of so many women and some of the details are important to me but not necessarily to others.

Even so, this is a sweet and heartwarming story with a familiar framework, with right and kindness and love winning, exactly the sort of read that can rescue a down day. 4 marbles





The Pennymaker Tales Series



Sinders and Ash
(The Pennymaker Tales Series, #1)
by Tara Lain


Available for order at 


           





Driven Snow


(The Pennymaker Tales, #2)
by Tara Lain




Available for purchase at 
            



About the Author

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best­selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul­mate husband and her soul­mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

You can find Tara at

               


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1 comment:

  1. Hi Cryselle -- Thank you so much for reading Beauty, Inc. I wanted you to know that the subplot you mentioned leaped out in the telling -- and is based on my own personal experience with the issue involved. So it wasn't arbitrary in any way. Very sorry if it offended. It wasn't my intention. Quite the contrary. Thank you for persevering! : )

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