Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Men are like beautiful agents of Satan, spreading insecurity and misery throughout the world.”
Jera McKnight has a full plate with her indie band, college, and work. Wholeheartedly embracing celibacy after her last boyfriend blamed her for his performance issues in the bedroom, Jera is definitely not on board with the gorgeous man who just threw a newspaper through her living room window.
Jacob Tate has his own full plate with family, work, and unavoidable obligations but from their first meeting, Jera intrigues him and he wants to get to know her better. He just needs to convince her to take a chance on him.
When her band gets their shot at fame, Jera has to decide if she’s finally willing to take a chance on all her dreams…or is her fear going to leave her playing to an empty house.
A Cruel Kind of Beautiful is the first in a witty and sexy new adult trilogy that revolves around an up and coming indie band, The Red Letters. Book one focuses on the band’s drummer, Jera McKnight. Fans of Kylie Scott and Sarina Bowen will enjoy the enthusiastic voice and unfettered energy Michelle Hazen brings to her latest romance contemporary. Infused with love, laughter, charm and a deep streak of vulnerability; Hazen explores the relationships we form with family, friends, and lovers and the expectations that arise when we try to please everyone at the expense of ourselves.
Jera McKnight is currently studying at Portland University while playing the drums and writing lyrics for her band. Living in the house she inherited from her grandmother, Jera is just coasting through life, not really interacting too much after her latest break up. Her luck with the opposite sex has never been good and her last boyfriend has her convinced she is terrible in bed and better off staying single.
Jacob Tate had a full ride to college on a baseball scholarship until a family situation radically changed his plans. Now he goes to school part-time while working various jobs.Sweet and charming, Jacob has been dealt a rough hand but has shouldered the responsibility like a pro. A responsibility that has him not looking for anything permanent as he can’t handle much more.
Even with the serious undertones, I giggled throughout this entire book. Jera is definitely the star of the show with her snarky outlook on her life, her friends, her family, and the new guy she just met.
“I really need to find me some female friends.”
Jera isn’t so much completed as still coming into her own. I love that she isn’t so damaged or burdened by emotional luggage that half the book is spent with her love interest acting as an impromptu therapist. Talented, determined, and intelligent, this is a woman who deserves the best and is well on her way to getting it. The issues behind her battered self-esteem needs addressing and Hazen chooses an issue that is very common to women but not talked much about it. Jera was made responsible for something that wasn’t her fault and it, in turn, gave her a less than positive outlook on sex and relationships. She and Jacob click instantly but her fear of getting hurt again causes her to friend zone him right out of the gate.
“I’m not about to get sucked into second-guessing another’s guys actions, trying to decide what he’s thinking about me. What matters is what I think about me.”
The romance is very slow to develop. Even though Jera admits her attraction to Jacob early on, she fights it. Hazon gives Jera and Jacob ample time to get to know one another on a personal level; first establishing a friendship before pushing beyond their boundaries and introducing the added intimacy of sex. Their chemistry is ripe with humor, hope, and sexual tension as Jera struggles to overcome her fears of intimacy and failure. Jacob is so perfect that he’s almost annoying, however, Hazen gives him a robust personality and just enough flaws to keep us from writing him off. His quiet nature and innate maturity is the perfect foil for Jera’s more gregarious and edgy nature.
Jera’s friends and family are a huge part of her life and jump in with laughter, love, and plenty of unwanted advice. While I enjoyed watching the romance develop, Jera is so funny as she internally debates the pros and cons of dating Jacob, I loved the time and effort Hazen goes into showcasing Jera’s relationships with her family and friends. Jera’s very close to her parents while the bond between her and Danny, the band’s bassist and her best friend, is unbreakable. Besties since high school, Danny has always been there for her and when push comes to shove, he gives it to her straight.
“Someday, Jera, you’ve got to trust someone, whether it’s this Jacob guy or just a fucking record company. If you’re never willing to risk anything, you’re going to be stuck in the same moment for the rest of your life.“
I had so much fun reading Jera and Jacob’s story and can’t wait for book two. My only point of contention was Jacob and his situation. There were so many unanswered questions that I felt a little emotionally manipulated. Regardless, Michelle Hazen has an engaging voice for NA and definitely author to watch for in the future.