Released: Dec. 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review*
Her Russian Beast is the latest installment in Theodora Taylor's 50 Loving States series, and yes dear readers, it's a good one. To enjoy this book to its fullest you'll need to be a little: forgiving, understanding, and enjoy a hero that aggressive and a bit (okay quite a bit) brutish. Reader be warned, there is one scene in which our “hero” behaves in a less than favorable way. If you need your heroes to be honorable at all times then Bair isn't the one. Just know that the Russian Beast isn't called that for nothing. He needs a bit of behavioral home training.
In this story we have Sirena (we'll call her this to avoid spoilers) and Bair Rustanov. Bair is the half brother of Alexi Rustanov from Her Russian Billionaire. The story starts with Sirena meeting Bair at a fight club. The two have chemistry and embark on a relationship that spans some eleven years over the course of the book (although not all of it is spent together as a couple). The relationship has its problems however due to youthful bad decisions, baggage on both sides, and because as previously noted Bair has some pretty brutish tendencies that come across as psychotic at times. The question of the story is whether or not Bair and his Sirena can work through the problems of their past, forgive each other, and move toward a future together.
What I Liked
Wow this story and its character had layers. This is what I appreciate about this author's writing and how it has grown since I first started reading her work. She knows how to create dimensional characters that I think a lot of writers of interracial romance fail to accomplish. I liked Sirena's journey from the girl that we meet at the beginning to the woman that she becomes. The insights and background on her and her family really made this character come to life and become someone that I as a reader cared about.
-Bair. Despite his behavior through a majority of the book and the readers initial lack of insight into what makes him tick, I really did like Bair (for the most part). He was a wounded wild animal and behaved accordingly. Still, I always wanted things to work out for these two.
-The moments of genuine affection were touching. Yes, there was plenty of sex between Bair and Sirena, but I'm talking about the affection, the moments when Sirena soothed her beast. Even when Bair was resistant and things were bad between them you could feel Sirena's need to soothe Bair and his need to be soothed. These moments were what made me want the couple to work. Loved it.
What I Didn't Like So Much
-Sirena's personality was a hard one for me to put my finger on. She didn't seem consistent to me although the author makes strides to explain why this might be. That said, at times her behavior and particularly her speech just didn't work for me, even after taking everything into consideration. There's also a scene near the end when Sirena goes bat-shit-crazy that just felt off and silly. It didn't do anything for the character and was just too much.
-There's also a scene that will bother some readers and may even make them want to stop reading. There's really no justification for Bair's behavior in my opinion and really no worthy reason was given. This could have been written in a different way cause honey if he did that to me… I'm just sayin'!
-Maybe it was just me, but I wish the author had just came out and said exactly what caused Bair's darkness. I was left making assumptions and that felt like a cop out on the writers part.
My Final Thoughts
Despite what I felt were a few glitches, I was glad that I had the opportunity to read this book. I feel Theodora Taylor has turned into an author worth watching. I do recommend Her Russian Beast particularly to readers who enjoy their heroes a little damaged and dark. For readers who are angered by “the scene” I feel you, but please keep reading. This is truly a good read if you can forgive some of Bair's behavior.
This would be a 5 out of 5 read for me but the faults, particularly the lack of proper explanations, were enough to make me knock out a star.