Book Review: The Beast Without (Arcadia Trust Book 1) by Christian Baines

One night while walking home from a club, the vampire Reylan and his soon-to-be meal are attacked by a newly changed werewolf named Jorgas, and Reylan's human companion is killed. But a wild werewolf out killing humans is unacceptable and puts all the supernaturals risk, so Reylan agrees to help bring Jorgas in to the Arcardia Trust. Except vampires are asexual creatures and being both fascinated and turned on by Jorgas was not something Reylan was prepared to handle, and a part of him just might want to help Jorgas instead.

Book Review: The Beast Without (Arcadia Trust Book 1) by Christian Baines | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy, urban fantasy, lgbt, vampires, shifters
Title: The Beast Without
Book Number: Book 1 of TBA
Pages: 236
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


*I received an ecopy of this book from the author. This has not influenced my review.*

At the time of writing this review, I’ve already read the first two books in this series, and I felt the second was a lot better and fixed pretty much all the problems I had with this one. That being said, this review is for this book, and I still have to be honest, so…

Things I Liked:

– The story/plot was good.

– The violent/darkish aspects were definitely to my liking. I mean, the sex scene was basically half sex, half beating the crap out of each other. Sex and violence all in one scene, what more can you ask for? πŸ˜‰ (But just to clarify, the sex was consensual. And the violence was practically consensual too since they seemed to be quite enjoying themselves.)

– The rocky nature of Reylan’s and Jorgas’s relationship (I use that term loosely as it wasn’t romance but rather more of a fascination/one-time sexual thing) gave them an interesting dynamic.

– The turmoil in Reylan (the protag) over always wanting to be alone and being an asexual creature (the vampires in this book are impotent) but then suddenly having some sort of interest in Jorgas and being filled with lust and passion by him was also an interesting aspect of the story.

Things I Disliked:

– All of the above things I mentioned had a lot of great potential, but I felt like it wasn’t fully explored to the extent it could’ve been.

– The dialogue often felt unnatural. It was kind of choppy sometimes to the point that I was left feeling confused as to what the characters were talking about. At other times it seemed like Reylan was having a sarcastic battle of wits with every character he came across.

– Reylan was too judgmental and condescending. I like surly, disgruntled, snarky characters, but he came off more mean than funny to me.

– I didn’t like the breaking of the fourth wall. I’m not a huge fan of first person to begin with, and characters talking directly to the reader always takes me out of the story.

Things Neither Good nor Bad but Still Worth Mentioning:

– I’ve noticed a lot of other reviewers mention how unique this portrayal of vampires was, but, as someone who reads a lot of vampire books, I found this to be a fairly typical, classic, sexy version. I don’t mean that as an insult though; every version doesn’t have to be “different.” I enjoy this version just as much, and I definitely like the pleasurable blood-drinking!

Overall, I felt the positives and the negatives were fairly even, but, as I said, there was a lot of potential in the relationship dynamics and inner turmoil, enough that I decided to continue with the next book, which I did enjoy significantly more. So not a bad read, and I’d recommend the series if it sounds like your kinda thing, but this first book didn’t blow me away.

*I’ve read this book multiple times. This review was written after my 1st read.*

2nd Read Update:
I actually enjoyed this more the second time. I wasn’t quite as confused by the story and dialogue. I think I also appreciated Reylan’s characterization more. He was a judgmental jerk with some very questionable morals, so I can’t say I liked him as a person, but he was well-written and interesting as a character. I’m leaving my original review as is, but I’ve decided to adjust my rating from 3 stars to 3.5 stars.

Reread Ratings:
3 Stars (1st Read – 2016)
3.5 Stars (2nd Read – 2019)


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  1. Lampshade Reader

    Great review. The fourth wall thing sounds interesting. I love it when shows do it and of course Shakespeare ( πŸ˜€ ) but I haven’t read a book that has done that (not that I remember anyway). ~Aleen

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I’ve read a few, I never like it, but it’s a matter of personal preference of course. I can see why other people like it, especially when it adds to the humor πŸ™‚

  2. Lola

    Glad to hear that book 2 fixed most of the problems you had with this book. Sometimes it really pays off to continue the series even when you had some issues with book 1. Definitely sounds like this was the right book for you when it came to the story and the darkness level. I don’t think i have ever read a book with asexual vampires, so that definitely sounds like an interesting twist and I wonder why Jorgas does awaken those feelings in him. Does sound like an interesting plot point for sure.

    That’s too bad there wasn’t as much depth in exploring those issues as you would’ve liked, but it seems that does get better in book 2, sot that’s good. Reylan does sound a bit unlikeable with how came across a a bit mean at times and with the choppy dialogue. I don’t like it when stories break the fourth wall either, it just gets me out of the story. You do read a lot of vampire books, so I can imagine that’s why you didn’t found it as original as the other reviewers. I feel like the more books you read in a genre the less is really outstanding. Great review! And I am looking forward to your review of book 2 to see which issues it fixed and what you thought of that one.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I already had the book, so I started it just to kind of sample it and see if it seemed to have improved any, and before I realized it I was at like 17% lol, so the decision was made. I don’t normally continue series when I give 3 stars, but it did pay off with this one.

      Anne Rice’s vampires don’t have sex, the biting is the equivalent of sex to them, and those were my first introduction to vampires. In fact, I thought it was weird and didn’t like it that other vampires had sex when I started reading other authors. It was like, they weren’t *supposed to* be like that lol. Eventually I got over that and grew to love seeing how they’re portrayed differently by different authors, but that’s why that wasn’t anything new to me. Oh, but there was an explanation for why Jorgas suddenly made Reylan no longer asexual, so that was good, it wasn’t just random. They were also born, not made, in this book, which is somewhat different, but I’ve read other books like that too (including my favorite series).

      But yeah, I suppose the more you read in a genre, the less there is that’s “different,” but I wouldn’t read the genre so much if I didn’t like the usual portrayals and tropes and all that, you know? I’d actually be disappointed if there were no books with the more typical versions. So it’s really not an insult.

      Thanks! My review for Book 2 should go up not next week but the week after πŸ™‚

      1. Lola

        I actually continue the series quite regularly after a 3 star for the first book, it just depends on how the good the book was and how easy I can get the next book. It seems like it paid off with this one at least to continue the series.

        I think Vampire Academy and Twillight were my first introductions to vampires and after that two adult vampire series, one I can’t remember the name of and the other was the Sookie Stackhouse series.

        And I am glad to hear there was an explanation for why Reylan wasn’t asexual anymore, that’s good to know.

        I know what you mean, my favorite genres I usually like because of the tropes as well. Sure it’s nice to see new things, but tropes aren’t a bad thing if they are tropes you like.

        I’ll make sure to read your review for book 2 once it’s live πŸ™‚

        1. Kristen Burns

          Usually when I give 3 stars, there are too many issues for me. And there are too many other books out there for me to spend time on ones I already know I probably won’t love. But sometimes I make exceptions, clearly.

          I only vaguely remember the Twilight books, but I’m pretty sure they’re the reason I became disenchanted with vampire books and stopped reading them for years. I didn’t like how they were portrayed, and I guess it made me feel like I would never like how any vampire was portrayed, but I think it was just that I didn’t like those.

          Yeah, tropes are not inherently bad. It just depends how they’re used, which ones you like, how well the book is written, etc.

  3. verushka

    Squandered potential is what annoys me so much. I’ve gone through that alot recently and it makes me want to hit my head against the wall. Sighs. I have to admit, there’s a lot on your things to dislike list that would have made me pause and possibly stop reading.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I just think it’s disappointing when potential isn’t fully realized. But hmmm, maybe this wouldn’t be the book for you? I’m glad I kept reading and gave it a chance though.

      1. verushka

        I just read your comment on Dead Man on my blog now and realised this was the book you mentioned that you gave a second chance to — Reylan right?

  4. Bookworm Brandee

    This is very intriguing. I’m curious about vampires being impotent, first of all. I mean, the sexy bite is something I’m fond of. πŸ˜‰ But that a werewolf trips Reylan’s trigger, making him experience something he’s never experienced and didn’t know he could? Curiouser and curiouser. πŸ˜‰ I do understand all of your dislikes of the story though – especially that fourth wall. That tends to throw me out of the story as well. And Reylan being mean rather than snarky…I feel like that probably wasn’t the author’s intent? But I’m glad that, overall, everything balanced and you ended up continuing the series. I’m eager to see your review of book 2.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Ah, but being impotent does not mean the biting itself isn’t a sexual act πŸ˜‰ But in this book, Jorgas brought out the sexualness in Reylan (I don’t know how to phrase that sentence, haha), so there was sex with the sexy biting and everything. I suppose some people like the breaking of the fourth wall, but I’d rather just *be* in the mind of the character, not having a conversation with them. I don’t know what the intent was, but I just don’t like judgmental characters. But luckily both those improved in Book 2. My review for that one will go up not next week but the week after πŸ™‚

  5. AngelErin

    Oh I’m so glad that you mentioned that you have read book 2 already and that you think it’s a lot better than the first. At first when I read the synopsis I got really excited, then I saw the 3 stars. I’m so happy it got better for you though! I’m really interested in this one and well you know I like dark and violent books! I can’t wait to see your review for the second one.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I don’t always mention future books, but I didn’t want to scare people off when I did enjoy the second book. And haha, yes, I know like the dark, violent books because you’re twisted like me πŸ˜‰ Book 2 review will be posted not next week but the week after.