Beautiful Secret (Beautiful Bastard #4) by Christina LaurenBeautiful Secret by Christina Lauren
Published April 2015
Series: Beautiful Bastard #4
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Office Romance
three-half-stars
Format: eBook
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When Ruby Miller’s boss announces he’s sending her on an extended business trip to New York City, she’s shocked. As one of the best and brightest young engineers in London, she knows she’s professionally up to the task. The part that’s throwing her is where she’ll be spending a month up close and personal working alongside—and staying in a hotel with—Niall Stella, her firm’s top urban planning executive and The Hottest Man Alive. Despite her ongoing crush, Ruby is certain Niall barely knows she’s alive…until their flirty overnight flight makes him sit up and take notice.

Not one for letting loose and breaking rules, recently divorced Niall would describe himself as hopeless when it comes to women. But even he knows outgoing California-girl Ruby is a breath of fresh air. Once she makes it her mission to help the sexy Brit loosen his tie, there’s no turning back. Thousands of miles from London, it’s easy for the lovers to play pretend. But when the trip is over, will the relationship they’ve built up fall down?

Niall Stella is a track-record engineer and VP at Richardson-Corbett, London. Recently divorced from his wife of 15 years and former childhood sweetheart, Niall puts all his focus on his job, and on an upcoming business trip to New York.

Ruby Miller, brilliant intern at Niall’s firm, has been secretly lusting after him ever since she joined the company – but Niall remains oblivious to her crush, and to women in general. When she is being asked to accompany him on his trip to New York, her heart soars. It will be the perfect opportunity to have him notice her, but also to prove her professional skills.

Reserved and vulnerable Niall sure notices Ruby and her exhilarating personality – and it’s like nothing he’s ever known, so Ruby sure throws him in for a loop.

What I loved about this book:

  • The lovely male main character
  • The setting (London and New York)
  • The funny moments

What I felt needed improvement:

  • The slow pace
  • The all too abrupt ending and no epilogue
  • The sometime annoying heroin

Having read all Beautiful Bastard books before this one, there wasn’t even a question about getting the newest release Beautiful Secret. During the first chapeters, in grew a bit disappointed about the fact that this story was so similar to Bennett Ryan’s story from Beautiful Bastard (intern and boss fall for each other). The fact that a plot repeated itself within one and the same series kind of lacked in originality – but then again, it was slightly different because Niall Stella wasn’t the manwhore that Bennett is. Quite the contrary actually!

So as I read on, I noticed that Beautiful Secret came quite close to Absolute Beginners by S.J. Hook because both books have both the forbidden relationship aspect and for once it’s the male main character that’s inexperienced and constantly pushed over the edge by the much more experienced and bolder female character. Huh! Can’t say I dislike this because it’s a nice change from your average alpha male! And of course, what’s more sexy than a well-behaved British main character – a suit-and-tie wearing one on top of that!

“Help me Jesus because paired with the overcoat he had slung over his arm, his suit was straight-up business pron.”

I was just bit annoyed at the fact that some of Ruby’s character traits didn’t add up. She is a brilliant student and intern, speaks up and isn’t anybody’s doormat (sounds a lot like Choe Mills from Beautiful Bastard to me…). And yet, while she is a gushing mess around her crush Niall Stella, she can also be über-bold – especially sexually. Then, the next second she is full of insecurities… Talk about a colorful personality! It was really hard to adjust to all her shifts in attitude. But they also made up for a lot of great banter, lots of funny moments and heaps of self-deprecating humour.

“Niall Stella played soccer and rowed with a men’s club on the Thames every Saturday. His backside was in my Top Ten Favorite Niall Stella Body Parts (I was leaving spot one open for the time being).”

And Niall… well it was so refreshing to read about a male hero that’s not über-experienced or your average alpha-male manwhore. Doesn’t mean he was flavorless. Oh no, Niall was a proper gentleman. He never noticed Ruby before the mention of this trip, which is just another proof of loyalty to both his work and (ex-)wife. But once he does, and discovers his attraction for her, he wants to court her properly.

“If I wanted to make love to her tonight, I could. If I wanted to feel myself deep in her throat, I could. If I wanted limits, I would need to be the one to set them. But did I truly want limits, or did I think I should want them?”

And let’s face it: he’s scared of doing something wrong, given how “inexperienced” he is, and how his marriage led him to question everything from his action to his bedroom manners. But well, that doesn’t mix well with an almost sex-crazed Ruby who can’t wait to get into his pants. Literally. So Niall’s restraint is definitely put on the line! But it was definitely endearing to witness Niall learning to cope with Ruby’s awkwardness and exhilarating personality little by little, given how reserved and contained he usually is.

“Do you think I’m weird?”
“Yes, weird in the sense that you are unexpected and I am rarely surprised by people. I think you rather exquisite.”

The writing was, as expected from Christina Lauren, game on: I loved the alternating 1st Person POV, the settings, the character interactions, the overly steamy scenes – everything. However I must say that the pace of the book wasn’t exactly perfect. I felt like the book dragged on quite a bit. Up until 80% of the book, not much happened (or it happened excruciatingly slowly), because it was all about Ruby and Stella finding their rhythm and pace. And then, they come home from their business trip, and the bomb is dropped, but gets neutralized just as quickly and uneventfully.

Needless to say that the ending was a bit too abrupt to my liking and I would have appreciated an epilogue. I hate having the feeling that I am missing a huge chunk of a story. I mean, what happens after the HEA? What happens to the fact that we have a difficult relationship here? One between a student and an executive, and an age difference of almost ten years? How do they manage? Because even though love may conquer all, I would have appreciated some insights into the logistics…

But well, can’t say I didn’t enjoy this book. I always enjoy Christina Lauren books – I just guess Beautiful Secret wasn’t the best out of the series, and this won’t keep me from reading further releases from this author couple.

Detailed Rating
Storyline
3.5 Stars
Characters
4 Stars
Writing
4.5 Stars
All the feels
3.5 Stars
Overall: three-half-stars