Interpretations of the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast are possibly my favorite stories and when I read the synopsis for Cerys du Lys‘ Hunted I was immediately intrigued. Unfortunately I was vastly disappointed, I loved the idea of a dark erotic retelling of Madame de Villeneuve’s classic story. I think what I found particularly unsatisfying was the degree to which the author deviated from the core plot. More disturbingly I noted that there were actually more parallels to the Disney film than the original this would not be a concern if I wasn’t worried that I would never again be able to view the animated objects from the Beast’s castle without extreme prejudice.
Hidden in the woods sits a mansion. Rumors say it’s commanded by a beast-cursed man who crossed a witch nearly a century ago.
Danya has no time for rumors and fantasies, though. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, now trapped by her father’s constant debt, she struggles just to care for her family. She’s shamed herself, sold her body, all to make some coin and ward the debtors away for a little while longer.
One day someone will find her and love her and offer her a better life. Right?
The one who comes for her is nothing like what she expects, though. The beast-cursed man of legends knows her scent and he hunts for her lust like a wolf pursuing a rabbit through the underbrush. He wants her, needs her, desires her body, and yet…
There’s a reason the witch cursed him in the first place, isn’t there? The lord’s son, Everett, trapped as a man in wolf’s clothing, bound to the witch’s whim. Can Danya hope to tame his wild ways, undo his curse, and find love in the process, or is she merely a pleasure toy to him, some sexual prey meant to be Hunted?
Hunted opens with the Beast stumbling upon Danya in flagrante delicto in the forest, her scent captivates him and he follows her home. Danya regularly services the men to whom her father owes money and is intrigued enough by the Beast’s attentions that she travels to his mansion in the woods to be with someone who desires her for herself.
What I found most frustrating about Hunted was the amount of unrecognized potential. Cerys du Lys can write well, a number of the erotic scenes were in fact quite titillating whereas there were also number that crossed the line into tastelessness and were just plain gross. Danya’s motivation for going to the Beast was unconvincing without the element of coercion from the original story and many of the retellings.
Ultimately I think I was most put off by the character of Danya’s sister Alena who seemed to have no purpose other than to populate the story with another set of loins for the Beast to copulate with. It was as if part way through the story the basic plot was abandoned and then it turned into just another paranormal with angels, demons and succubi which in and of itself would not be a problem if there was an element of consistency throughout. At it’s heart Beauty and the Beast is a love story and that is what I felt was largely missing from Hunted.
AUTHOR: Cerys du Lys
RATING: 2 Stars
Disclaimer: ARC was kindly provided by the publisher for an honest review.