Review Status:  4 out of 5

The Blurb: Beauty and The Beast:   They were the talk of the town.  All eyes feasted on the beautiful flame-haired gambler in London’s most infamous club. But Julia Prentisse was interested only in the rake-turned-recluse whom they now called “The Beast.” She lured him out of the crowded club to a deserted warehouse, where she made her scandalous offer:  If he married her and protected her from her uncle, she would help him capture the arsonist who had ruined his life.

An act of heroism had left Morgan St. James burned, scarred for life, but Julia’s bold gaze lit other fires he had long suppressed. And now this glorious stranger was his bride. But when he tried to claim his husbandly rights, she demanded three months grace—three months to know a stranger’s mind, to touch a stranger’s soul, to go where no woman had ever gone before. Into his heart…

Morgan St. James is an absolutely adorable smart ass that I immediately liked, and despite all he went through, I never felt any pity for him.  Julia Prentisse is an intelligent, defiant woman I would like as a friend.

This is a really well written, smart book.  The pretenses of their marriage had me smiling at its cleverness, and I enjoyed the sarcasm and  banter back and forth between Morgan and Julia to a certain point.  Just when I had grown tired of it all, the author realized they had bantered enough, and got down to the nitty gritty.

I was also surprised at who the villain turned out to be.  It wasn’t until the last moment that he was revealed, and that was a real pleasure, and surprise, in the book.

Morgan and Julia are both very intelligent, likable, and sometimes very unlikable,  flawed characters who I found myself very much attached to.  I liked the way the author slowly broke down the barriers both characters  had erected, and found myself grinning at the end of the book, happy for Morgan and Julia, but sad the book had ended.