Jessica Grey
Tall House Books, 2013

I'm going to try very, very hard not to have this review be Exhibit A of Fangirl vs. Sensible Thought. But I can't make any promises. Every time I read this story (I had the extreme honor of being a beta reader), I fall a little harder in love with it ... with the characters, with the setting, with the very story itself. What is Atone, you ask? It's the sorta-sequel to Awake, in that it picks up several years later and features many of the same issues and people. But it's Becca's time to sparkle, and her story is a reimagining of "Beauty and the Beast" -- set in Grey's beloved [contemporary] Los Angeles. There's so much more to this retelling though ... In fact, there's so much of Atone that you've simply got to experience for yourself, that maybe I will indulge in a little fangirling after all.

If you read Awake, you're familiar with both the magical connection existing between Becca, Alex and Lilia, and the ... "interest" that former supervisor Nicholas Hunt has in that magic. You also know that there is no love lost between Nicholas and Becca. At all. So you're probably going to be as surprised as Becca was to find out she's his emergency contact; and then to realize she actually does care about his fate once she discovers him. As I said, it's "Beauty and the Beast," so you know in your head what's going to happen. But that doesn't take away from the reading -- Becca and Nicholas have so much animosity: extreme passions, just waiting to shift from one bent to another. As a beast, Nicholas is ... well, in a word: amazing. (I may or may not have left a lot of "wolf whistle" comments while beta reading). He's fierce and conflicted, and he develops so much as a character. As does Becca, who has to deal with not only the Becca-Nicholas/Fae-Beast dynamic, but also recognize and address her own issues. She's kickass, but she's a teensy bit flawed. Which is why we love her.

The way things play out, in terms of pacing, is quick. But with such powerful magic at work, you expect quick. Quick makes sense. Plus, you really want to get to the ending. Oh man, the ending. It is incredible. And there's just a lingering sense of what is to come in the next novel, which will be Lilia's story. Good times, people. Good times. And definitely one of my favorite reads of the year.

eARC provided by author for review.

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