Narrator: Charlotte Penfield, Jonathan Cole
Series: Beautiful Bastard #4
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on April 14th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy
Length: 9 hrs. 49 mins.
Also by this author: Beautiful Bastard, Beautiful Stranger, Sweet Filthy Boy, Dirty Rowdy Thing, Wicked Sexy Liar
The fourth full novel in the New York Times, USA TODAY, and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren’s Beautiful series, which began with Beautiful Bastard.
Beautiful Secret is the latest installment of Christina Lauren’s Beautiful series. In this book, two worlds collide when a character from the Wild Seasons series pairs up with the brother of a character from the Beautiful series. The action takes place in London and NYC, where Niall Stella (brother to Max) and Ruby Miller push the boundaries of their boss/intern relationship.
UC San Diego graduate Ruby Miller is in London for a coveted engineering internship. She has it bad for Niall Stella, an executive at the firm. The ink is barely dry on his divorce papers and hooking up with the intern is not high on his list of priorities. But when Niall and Ruby are asked to go on a month-long business trip to New York, he can’t help but notice the striking and very smitten intern.
I’m up to date on Christina Lauren’s novels but not their novellas, and I believe I missed Niall Stella’s introduction in Beautiful Beloved. Niall is nothing like his brother Max – he’s more straight-laced and reserved. He married his high school sweetheart and they grew apart so this dating thing is very new to him. He’s cautious and doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve.
Ruby, meanwhile, has lusted after Niall for ages and even engages in a little stalkery behavior. She is very driven in her career and doesn’t want to sabotage her chances to nab a spot in the graduate program at Oxford. She’s patient with Niall and enjoys introducing him to new sexy, playful experiences, but at the same time she has real feelings for the guy and doesn’t just want to be just the rebound.
The intern/boss trope has shades of Beautiful Bastard. (And the boss in Bastard, Bennett Ryan, even makes a special appearance to make the same observation!) Christina Lauren puts the office romance setup to good use with some racy romantic scenes designed to loosen up the sexually repressed Niall. Lauren teases out their slow burn relationship expertly, and some of my favorite scenes are their intimate moments they share before they actually hit the sheets.
Ruby is the experienced one in the relationship but also is a strong player in the workplace. She excels in a male-dominated field and succeeds despite having a sexist boss. Though she is crazy about Niall she also is very driven in her career and I admired that about her.
It was a treat catching up with characters from the Beautiful series, such as Will, Bennett, Max, and Chloe. Ruby fit right in with the gang, and the guys helped to play matchmaker for the hesitant Niall.
I listened to the audiobook of Beautiful Secret, performed by Jonathan Cole and Charlotte Penfield. Listeners of Beautiful Stranger will recognize Cole as the voice of Niall’s brother, Max Stella. Cole’s voice for Max is confident and engaging, and he gets to showcase a more reserved side to portray Niall. Penfield’s voice is a natural for the self-assured Ruby, and she provides a layered performance. The writing team of Christina Lauren mention they think about how their words sound when read aloud when writing their books and I think that is one reason why their books are so good in audiobook form. (Check out this interview between the audiobook narrators and Christina Lauren) I listened to this one over the course of two days and enjoyed listening, though I was a little self-conscious at times listening to the bedroom scenes in public.
Check out a (NSFW) audio sample from Beautiful Secret:
The push-pull in this romance was a little frustrating at times so this is not my favorite of the Beautiful books, plus we’ve seen a twist on the intern/boss relationship before in this series. However, I enjoyed getting to know Niall and Ruby, the workplace dynamic, and the London/New York setting. I’m not sure if this is the last of the Beautiful series or not, but I know we have the Wild Season’s Dark Wild Night to look forward to this September.