David Bridger is a friend of mine and this is his debut work, so of course I picked it up. However, I already knew how his writing is evocative and compelling, so I didn’t think I was risking much.
Beauty and the Bastard held some surprises for me in content, I’ll admit, since I picked it up solely based on the author and didn’t read the blurb or surrounding information too closely. This novella contains explicit sex and violence. That said, neither the sex nor the violence seemed out of place in the story, which makes sense in a story about a fallen angel and demons living among us. For all that, this is a love story.
In the beginning, Saul the Bastard lives up to his name by killing his demon mark without mercy, all in his attempt to regain a spot in Heaven. Then we meet Rebecca, the daughter of a high-level demon family whose life has been threatened. She’s intrigued by a glimpse of Saul, but that first interest is destroyed when her uncle hires him to protect her, a protection she doesn’t believe is necessary.
Both characters have a lot of history driving them:
Saul is unable to remember his past and why he was ejected from Heaven, but is sure somehow he can regain his angel status if he just works to eliminate the worst demons on Earth. He does this by hiring out to the demon families as a bounty hunter.
Rebecca had been a little too innocent and subject to flattery, but she’s had her eyes opened to the falsehood in those who try to get close.
They start out as unwilling companions then her focus and his loyalty start changing their feelings. As their relationship develops, they face a lot of complications grounded in their histories and the differences in their social positions, all of which leaves them with serious choices to make.
But that’s not all. The threat on her life is more than a backdrop, while Rebecca’s research assignment makes for a good subplot as well. For a novella length piece, this is a complex, well-seeded story with multiple threads winding together to make a whole. There are several surprises along the road, but surprises of the type that you can glance back and see how the pieces come together.
Ultimately, this is a strong debut work, living up to what I expected from David’s writing.