Laurent and the Beast, by K.A. Merikan
Series: Kings of Hell MC, Book One
Release Date: April 29, 2017
Nothing can stop true love. Not time. Not even the devil himself.
1805. Laurent. Indentured servant. Desperate to escape a life that is falling apart.
2017. Beast. Kings of Hell Motorcycle Club vice president. His fists do the talking.
Beast has been disfigured in a fire, but he’s covered his skin with tattoos to make sure no one mistakes his scars for weakness. The accident not only hurt his body, but damaged his soul and self-esteem, so he’s wrapped himself in a tight cocoon of violence and mayhem where no one can reach him.
Until one night, when he finds a young man covered in blood in their clubhouse. Sweet, innocent, and as beautiful as an angel fallen from heaven, Laurent pulls on all of Beast’s heartstrings. Laurent is so lost in the world around him, and is such a tangled mystery, that Beast can’t help but let the man claw his way into the stone that is Beast’s heart.
In 1805, Laurent has no family, no means, and his eyesight is failing. To escape a life of poverty, he uses his beauty, but that only backfires and leads him to a catastrophe that changes his life forever. He takes one step into the abyss and is transported to the future, ready to fight for a life worth living.
What he doesn’t expect in his way is a brutal, gruff wall of tattooed muscle with a tender side that only Laurent is allowed to touch. And yet, if Laurent ever wants to earn his freedom, he might have to tear out the heart of the very man who took care of him when it mattered most.
Content Warning for:
Violence and Gore
I had been meaning to check out this author duo for a little while now and after getting a load of that blurb, I was almost afraid I was about to bite off more than I could chew! As I dove into Laurent and the Beast, I definitely felt like I needed someone to hold my hand, but dove in I did.
I had braced myself for a lengthy read (at 135,000 words, it’s nearly twice the length of your average romance novel) but surprisingly I managed to finish it in a day and a half. However, even a week later, I’m still having trouble putting my thoughts together, so bear with me. There was so much going on that it’s left me feeling very conflicted – to the point where I’m not sure if I liked it, or why I liked it. There were some stumbles along the way but I think I was mostly surprised at how easily I fell into Laurent and Beast’s story.
The two main characters were polar opposites (which happens to be one of my favorite tropes) but especially with them being from different centuries, this book definitely took this trope to another level. I thought the authors did a great job writing both eras in a manner that didn’t seem jarring to me when the two worlds collided, and added bonus that nothing jumped out at me personally as being historically inconsistent (there’s nothing worse than being distracted by a phrase or idea that doesn’t seem to fit a particular time period).
In particular, I thought the portrayal of Laurent’s 19th century character really shone. Somewhere in between his lonely days as a bookstore clerk and the horror that befell him, I fell in love with his character. His innocence and vulnerability really spoke to me as he quietly yearned for the gentle touch of another man and feared for his future once his period of servitude came to an end. For all that, I loved his backbone and grit, and his self-preservation definitely came to the forefront when faced with an impossible decision. And 21st century Laurent was a pure delight, especially in the beginning. It was refreshing and almost fun to see his perspective on many things that Beast and his biker friends took for granted such as personal freedom… sexual liberation… ready-made clothes… processed food… and plastic. This last one especially cracked me up, which is no easy feat because it’s a pretty dark book.
Laurent and Beast were similar in the sense that they both yearned for love and affection. But whereas Laurent was young and hopeful, Beast was hardened and resigned to the idea that no one could possibly love him. While I didn’t connect to him the way I did with Laurent, I thought his character was well-developed and I was able to get a good glimpse into his tortured soul. He was an angsty character – for good reason – and his inner turmoil and anguish really showed. There were times my heart truly ached for him – when he wasn’t being an ass or projecting the big bad tough guy persona, that is.
Actually, there were there were plenty of times when I just wanted to yell at them both. They had a lot of drama that was primarily due to miscommunication, jealousy, and eventually mistrust. But even without the angst and the interpersonal drama, there was a whole lot going on in this book and for me, it all started to unravel about two thirds of the way in. Secrets were revealed, things got really confusing and I no longer felt like I knew any of these characters any more. It might have been deliberately written that way, sort of like in a horror movie when shit just gets weird – but to me is just felt clumsy. But to go along with the whole weird horror movie vibe, the story is set in an incredibly spooky manor-turned-asylum-turned-biker-clubhouse. Oh and there may or may not have been a demonic presence lurking about. SPOILER ALERT: There totally was.
In any case, the way the story concluded was a letdown. Laurent and Beast overcame a lot to be together but in my mind had left the door wide open to future threats. As far as I can tell, the element of evil will remain a part of the series, but since it looks like future books will feature other characters within the motorcycle club, Laurent and Beast’s happy ending seemed unresolved at best, with a questionable HFN.
To be honest, I’m not sure if I will continue with this series, and I’m not even sure if this writing duo is for me, but I still want to check out their Guns and Boys series that I keep hearing about. All in all, I can’t deny this book left an impression on me.
K.A. Merikan are a team of writers who try not to suck at adulting, with some success. Always eager to explore the murky waters of the weird and wonderful, K.A. Merikan don’t follow fixed formulas and want each of their books to be a surprise for those who choose to hop on for the ride.
K.A. Merikan have a few sweeter M/M romances as well, but they specialize in the dark, dirty, and dangerous side of M/M, full of bikers, bad boys, mafiosi, and scorching hot romance.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.