For starters, this book has an amazing cover.  It's deceptively simple and gorgeous.  The longer you look, the more you see.  First, I saw the flower, then the staircase, then the girl.  But I appreciated the design even more after I read the pages, which have their own layers and secrets hidden inside, yet right in front of you at the same time.

I am a sucker for romance, and this book had my favorite kind of romantic conflict, love versus duty. Nyx has been raised to marry and destroy Ignifex, the Gentle Lord, who has been holding their kingdom hostage for hundreds of years.  He ends up being everything and nothing like she expects, and before she can figure out how to destroy him, she finds herself falling in love.     

Pitched as Graceling meets Beauty and Beast, the story is part fantasy, part fairy tale and part Greek myth.  I really enjoyed the rich details, fun banter, and impossible choices.

Here's the summary from Goodreads:

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.


It sounds very intriguing. I do judge some books by their covers!

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