Top critical review
A romance with a lot of over the top coincidences
Reviewed in the United States on June 6, 2021
I was undecided on whether to rate this two or three stars because even though I've enjoyed a book or two by this author in the past, I found the plot to this book a bit of a hot mess and started nicknaming the story line 'Coincidence Central' in my head. I ended up settling on three stars because even though there were quite a few obvious typos and the like, the writing kept me entertained while I was rolling my eyes so far back in my head that I had 180 degree vision. Just a heads up - one of the factors that lessened my enjoyment of this book was how elements of the plot played out, with a fair bit of cheese factor thrown in one chunk after the other. As a result, spoilers will be below along with a possibly tedious run down of the main events of the first quarter of the book. So in other words, if you're one of those equally tedious readers that come to the reviews just to say 'I HaTe it WhEn a ReViEw SaYs EveRyThinG ThAt HapPenZzz', jog on - you've been warned. And why read reviews? And I'm not having a go at the author before super fans put their cape on; just expressing why I had a few problems with the story due to my personal preferences.
* Small spoilers for the first bit of the book below *
Okay, so the book is written in first person with chapters from both Sebastian and April's point of view. The former's chapters are written entirely in bold font so if this is going to make you twitch, here's your heads up. April works at a cafe that Sebastian drops in on one morning (quick note - she's 25 and he's mid to late 30s I think). As one of the staff members has left her in the lurch, she's left making the coffee, something she has no idea of how to do. She sees him bin her coffee, but then he returns the next day and then the one after that, throwing out her coffee outside the shop each day. Amongst this happening, the cheese factor is ramped up to maximum levels as she asks him if he's going to get a coffee for his girlfriend or maybe his wife. Probably just easier to hit him with a club and drag him to the back of the shop by his hair if you're going to be that awkward and obvious, but you do you, boo. She takes great pleasure then in making the worst coffee she can for him each morning. Look, my approach to get the attention of a guy might be a bit backwards, but I probably wouldn't go out of my way to show him I'm incompetent and think it's cute, not to mention waste his money. I can hear my grandma cursing 'She wouldn't do that if she'd lived through the Depression!'
On top of this, April has left a marriage in the States that left her broken-hearted after catching her now ex playing hide the salami with a colleague in their bed. She gets a scholarship to study law in London but is short of funds as she leaves with only the clothes on her back and he won't move out of the house for her to sell it and get money. She desperately wants to move out of the college dorms as the neighbouring room houses a girl who apparently is trying to set some kind of record for noise and nooky. Why didn't April complain? Well she did, but this neighbour is sleeping not only with the floor supervisor, but all four or so security guards. Huh. Seems plausible, almost as much as an apparently intelligent woman taking no other action to rectify the situation. Luckily, April is called in five or so weeks early for an interview with Club Exotic, a highly exclusive gentlemen's club where she's hoping to score a bartending gig.
This is where the series of ridiculous events continues. She's called in early for the interview. During said interview, the manager says she thinks she has another role for April and informs her that some members pay a premium to go to the Escape Lounge. What's that I hear you ask? Well every night at the lounge, there's a fashion parade with twenty-four of the club's most beautiful women. Every night, the same number of men reserve a spot to watch the parade and at the end, there's a private cocktail party. Then each of the girls pick a partner that they'll spend the night with. There's a five star hotel above the club that Escape own a floor on, but... wait for it... they don't have to sleep with the men. So to clarify, these men pay an exorbitant amount in yearly membership, get a private audience with girls but they don't get to choose one, the girl chooses them (but they can bid) and then on top of that, they might not even get intimate relations? I mean, creative license is one thing but this is borderline hilarious. Oh, and let's not forget, all of the twenty-four men are either gorgeous or have the 'it' factor. Well, naturally LOLOLOL and how lucky for all the women. Oh my goodness. And she's paid 5000 pound a night...to not do anything if that's her choice. Riiiiiiiight. But most of them do. Riiiiiiight again. I was laughing out loud by this point, by the way. Add to that, April's silly inner monologue and questions that made her sound like she'd taken a hit to the head. No, no, no.
Oh, but the fantasy continues. The girls get any laser and beauty treatments they want for free as well as professional hair and make up done. April decides she'll do four shifts and then quit. On her first night, she's presented to the men as the newbie where 'a whisper of awe falls over the room...' A whisper of awe fell over my lounge room, too, as I asked myself if this could get more ridiculous. Spoiler alert: it does. She looks up and sees Mr Garcia who's now a massive cranky pants because the first girl he's been really into since his horrid ex-wife cheated on him and scarred him for life is a call girl. Hold up - I thought they didn't have to sleep with the men? Hmmm, the somewhat dubious plot thickens. Well, since she's working as a word starting with 'w' and rhymes with 'core' (the choice of word in the book - definitely not mine), Sebastian Garcia certainly treats her like one and calls her one - several times throughout the book, actually. And while 'Get down on your knees and suck my you-know-what, you dirty 'w' word will certainly have some readers one-clicking (and to be fair, it was pretty hot in parts), it sounded strange for him to go from whoa to go with this language and if April had half a brain, it would be a massive red flag. Like, size of the Taj Mahal big. To be honest, it just sounded pretty gross. April then referring to herself as a dirty 'w' was also a bit of a step too far. Sorry to get on my soap box because I know it's fiction but surely we've moved on from women from all walks of life working in the sex industry as being referred to with derogatory terms? No? Righto. To quote April, 'I let poverty take my morals'. Sorry, Aps, but you sound like a dead set holier than thou snob. And this is all because she did two shifts at Escape where she slept with the exact same guy. Start praying to jeebus, girlfriend, you're clearly the baddest of the bad. Just an amusing aside, my note beside the quote above was 'Jesus eff'. Yep, funny again.
Okay, next plot reveal before I back off from the play by play. After Garcia hate bangs her a bit they fall into a happier place with each other. That is until she goes to a mansion with one of her close friends from university. They turn up at the house, said guy who's hardly been in the book kisses her and tells her he loves her completely out of the blue as the door opens. Guess who's there? I wonder??? Garcia, who hears his son (not actually his kid, but for some weird reason that made it to the final draft is actually his sister's kid who he stepped in for to help so calls him dad) say this and kiss her. He goes into a rage, calls her nasty names again and throws her out of the house as he thinks she's also been seeing his son so she must really be some kind of horrid, manipulative call girl. The son tells a friend what happened and they tell everyone she's an escort, embarrassing her and ruining her reputation. She transfers to another university and the book fast forwards six years to where she's working in the best ever law firm in the country and dating a pro soccer player who she likes as a friend but no more than that even though he's loaded and the bees knees. Le sigh.
While I'm bringing up the jump in time, there's also very little indication in the book to show section breaks which really affected the fluency of the story because the reader has to stop and figure out where the writing has just gone. So, in the next installment of April's crazy-lucky coincidences, she's given a coveted role in shadowing a new partner the firm's brought on who just happens to be the best lawyer for all the famous people. So guess who one of her clients is? The charming Mr Garcia, who we find out can only get aroused by call girls and rough nooky, is now deputy Prime Minister. Don't bother going back - you read that correctly.
So, this is all up to the 25% mark so while I've spilled my lollies on what seems like big plot reveals, this acid trip happened one thing after another in just the first section. The rest of the book is basically April desperately wanting him and then determining she wants nothing else to do with him with the occasional burst of jealousy and mini tantrums from her because she'd sever things somewhat and then get cranky and affronted that he didn't chase her or fall at her feet. I kid you not, this was rinsed, washed and repeated. She did grow a bit more a backbone after she moved but honestly, with her constant need to love the handsome, damaged guy that kind of got lost. There's a couple of nefarious plots to bring April and/or Sebastian down, lots of arguments and him being a bit of a jerk while she pined over him. A couple of crazy coincidences continue to happen but after the semi-rant above, I'm tired now and will leave whoever dives into the book with the pleasure of discovering them and possibly rolling their eyes themselves. One thing I will mention is that for one single scene, he had a room with nooky toys and whatnot. This came out of the blue and then just disappeared. Random and cliché.
On top of some of the formatting and grammatical errors, I'll also point out that several phrases and plot points were repeated. There were tonnes of fake smiles, rolled lips, eyes locking on one another and lip biting. With that and the plot basically repeating itself, I got a lot of deja vu. Sebastian would also do the arrogant, mean guy thing and ignore her or treat her bad and then they'd reconcile until his or her next tanty. Queue my note at only 52%: Groundhog Day. Lots of I don't want him near me but he should be chasing me. Him being a sex maniac was pretty repetitive, too (I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing lol). The epilogue was a nice touch and the book was a decent length.
While the direction the plot took was sometimes cheesy, ridiculous and jammed to the hilt with unrealistic coincidences for me, the dirty talk was on point and the smexy times were pretty hot. Sebastian was definitely dominant, jealous and possessive. I found both of the main characters had their faults so while I didn't hate the book, it was predictable and didn't leave me raving like a lot of other readers seem to be. I'm going to guess quite a few of these also loved Fifty Shades. Just so I'm clear, that's not a compliment. To finish on a positive note, I love the cover :)