The Beauty Within, H.L Day
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Historical-to-Contemporary, True Love, Supernatural/PNR
Length: 88K Words
Purchase At: amazon
“You will be trapped in stone forevermore, your beauty hidden by a façade so ugly that people will not like to look upon it. You will feel, but you will not be able to speak. You will hear, but you will not be able to communicate. You will endure across the ages, a silent witness to the decades that go by.”
François Damont’s only crime was loving the son of a witch in a time where it wasn’t permitted. For that sin, he’s been cursed to spend eternity locked inside the body of a gargoyle. A chance to break the curse comes only once every twenty-five years, lasting for no longer than twenty-eight days. He’s been unsuccessful for hundreds of years. Why would this time be any different?
History lecturer Daniel Smith is still reeling from a broken marriage when he stumbles across a mysterious man. Frankie might be hiding something, but the connection between them is too strong to ignore. Can he unlock the mystery before it’s too late?
Strange dreams. Dark forces. People who may not be what they seem. Time is not the only thing against them. And perhaps Daniel knows more than he thinks he does.
A sweet 82k MM paranormal romance featuring magic, witches, and a relationship that might just be able to endure anything.
H.L Day has become a favourite of mine over the years I’ve been reading her books. The Beauty Within continues to lock that favourite status firmly in place for me. The thing I like about Day’s writing is that she mixes things up – contemporary, sweet, edgy, dystopian, this is supernatural/PNR – so there’s a mixture of styles in the writer’s repertoire to choose from for the mood dependent reader, like I am.
The first 3 chapters of this book are set in Domme, Dordgone in 1571. François and a boy from a neighbouring farm, Estienne, fall for one another. The two young 20 somethings have a guilelessness and sweet first love. Juxtaposed against this is Estienne’s mother, Cecile Badeaux, who the locals fear as a witch. Antoine, François’ younger brother, warns him not to go to their cottage. He thinks François is going to meet up with Madeleine, Estienne’s sister, and that Cecile will make his older brother pay. François doesn’t believe she is a witch, that people are being unfair. He loves Estienne so it’s worth it for him to go and steal some time with him when and where he can. However, as Cecile does what she does, turns François into a gargoyle for ‘corrupting’ her son, it seems witches, definitely Cecile Badeaux, are real.
From chapter 4 onwards the story is set in contemporary times, it starts in 2018. Daniel is a history lecturer at Sheffield University where a gargoyle for the campus grounds arrives. He’s instantly interested in it, feels a spark around it, and for the next two years he spends his time offloading his life around his boyfriend, then fiancé, then husband – Calvin – to the gargoyle. When his marriage irrevocably breaks down, the gargoyle has been a steadfast listener. Because we know François is inside and that every twenty-five years he can be free for twenty-eight days, we also know Daniel is now going to be meeting François soon.
Daniel is a hopeful romantic, someone who means well, and because he does, he ends up rescuing a younger man who seems like he’s either unwell or perhaps a drug addict. He’s incredibly disoriented and sluggish when Daniel discovers him on the street. His friend Richard advises Daniel to keep on walking, that you can’t trust people. Hmmmm. Richhharrrdddd. Richard irritated me from the get-go. As to which Richard that was, it didn’t matter, he just made me want to flick his ear. Then there was Marjorie, same issue for me, I disliked them being on page. I get why they were as they were but I still didn’t like them. Thank goodness Daniel doesn’t listen to Richard and he ends up with a guy who ticks all his boxes, looks-wise, sweetness, even the air of mystery, and François, aka Frankie, has plenty of mystery. He can’t say anything to anybody about what he is or why. About lifetimes of ordeal. About being alone. He then has the pressure of having to make somebody truly love him in the really short time set up by Cecile’s witchy terms and conditions. Then, if they can’t take that leap of true love but they truly care for him, he once again leaves people behind, wondering.
François is a sweetheart. It’s hard not to feel an immense amount of emotions for him. Being trapped in stone with full awareness as the world goes by and keeps changing, never knowing what happened to the boy he loved, his brother, his parents. Never understanding the hatred of someone towards him for who he was, and Cecile’s punishment is cruel. Everything François has tried over the years hasn’t helped. The curse is ironclad. The little details were well thought out by Cecile, except there is an interesting little chink in the armour. I wanted so much for the gentle, kind-hearted François to find peace, love, and happiness… and with the right man.
How could I have ever thought I could walk away from this? Daniel was my sun, and I would orbit around him for as long as it was possible.
It was nice seeing François and Daniel together. The dual POV worked perfectly. I was cheering for them. The curse around any happiness that François might find felt ever-present. It made me think about permutations and possibilities. I was pretty certain I had a bead on the direction the book might take pretty early in. I’m happy it went the way it did. It gave me plenty of things I hoped for and a few extras that made it all the better. I’ll leave it right there, I don’t want to spoil the essence of the story for any reader.
Overall, The Beauty Within is another very good book from H L Day, another beautiful cover that more than lends itself to the whole story. It has two main characters I could get right behind, complete with a charming romance and love story, and it’s definitely a love worth fighting for. The book is also something a little different – it’s been years since I’ve read a gargoyle MC, the last one was in the novella Raincheck by Sarah Madison. The Beauty Within is recommended reading for H L Day fans and for those who love their gay romance nicely written, which this is, sweet, and supernatural. 4.5 Stars!