Title ~ Beauty, Inc. (Pennymaker Tales #3)
Author ~ Tara Lain
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 8th June 2016
Genre ~ Fairy Tale, M/M Romance
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.
Another Great Fairy Tale, Reimagined
Tara Lain has done it again, produced a book that left me with a smile on my face, my hopes restored, and my life a bit brighter than it was when I began reading it. “Beauty Inc.” is the newest offering in Ms. Lain’s Pennymaker series. This series is pure fantasy, each book a contemporary gay take on a classic Fairy Tale – in this case, Beauty and the Beast.
This series is not exactly subtle. Far from it. In fact, you might accurately say that each and every Pennymaker book is over-the-top, and few authors do over-the-top as well as Ms. Lain. She has a sophisticated sense of irony that informs the books, their characters and settings, and a genial reliance on her sense of humor to balance out any angst and conflict inherent in the story. After all, Fairy Tales are actually gentle horror stories at their core, as is this one.
Belle is a gorgeous young man, blond, angelic and frightfully smart. He has a doctorate in chemistry and he’s a genius at cosmetic formulation – coming up with products and technologies that even the richest and most successful cosmetic companies do not yet have. And yet his life is not good. His father, who owns the small cosmetics company Belle works for, is an alcoholic and none too happy that his “smart” son is gay – as far as he’s concerned, a real loser. On the other hand, his father hangs out with Belle’s two absolutely useless brothers, who prefer carousing and fornicating to working or managing the family business. But they’re “real men”, you know, the drunks who walk into a room scratching their crotches to show how masculine they are?
Of course Belle (his last name shortened to a nickname) means “beautiful”, so we also have to have a beast. As it turns out, the beast, Magnus Strong, is extremely rich and successful. His company is the main competitor to Belle’s family firm – actually it’s the main competitor to everyone else in the industry. And yes, he is ugly, his face marred terribly by the car accident that killed his mother when he was a teen.
But Magnus is also big, strong, powerful, charismatic and sexy. As well he will need to be when Belle’s father sells him to Strong to cover a gambling debt. Yep, beloved father sells his son into human slavery. And Belle goes along with it, reluctantly, to save his family’s cosmetics firm. He has no idea of what will be asked of him, either professionally, or personally, when he arrives at Beauty Inc. No one even helped him find a place to stay or transportation, and here’s Belle, the innocent, dropped unceremoniously into New York City, a place he knows nothing about.
What he didn’t expect was to be treated like a prince. His own personal driver shows up in a Town Car to pick him up upon arrival and drops him at his new home, an exquisite apartment in a six-story building in Brooklyn, complete with a huge atrium filled with a profusion of tropical vegetation and neighbors who are special, indeed - including the one who cooks spectacular meals for everyone. The whole menagerie is, of course, owned and run by Carstairs Pennymaker, the elusive spirit who seems to be worth billions, knows everyone in the world who matters, and dedicates his days to protecting and mentoring promising young, smart gay men. He’s a cross between the Keebler Elf, Santa Clause and a wealthy Leprechaun with a pot of gold. He’s magical, and he’s also the guarantee that Ms. Lain gives the reader that all’s well that ends well, and everything always ends well, despite the obstacles.
And there are some obstacles afoot. The worst is the one when Belle’s family and a disgruntled director of Beauty, Inc. conspire to get him away from Magnus – with whom, of course, he has fallen in love, despite Magnus’ physical damage – or because of it.
No matter, the moral of the story is consistent with the original – that beauty is on the inside, that beauty is as beauty does, and that, seen through eyes of a lover, even the ugliest face may be profoundly beautiful.
Well-written with vivid, empathetic characters (the kind you root for), “Beauty Inc.” is a feel-good book. Triumphing over adversity is a good thing, good people getting their well-deserved rewards is an even better thing, and gorgeous gay people who are smart and accomplished, the best of all.
Looking for a fun time? Read “Beauty Inc.” and find yourself falling under the magical spell of the amazing Tara Lain. Honestly, what a way to go!
Meet Tara Lain
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 best-selling 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 soul-mate husband and her soul-mate 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”!