It’s books like these that make me appreciate a well-written category romance. Because, unfortunately, this isn’t one and it’s reasonably straightforward to see why not.
Once upon a time Mary Sue met Barbie’s Ken and after a few misunderstandings, they lived happily ever after. Good for them.
With a great category romance for lines like Harlequin Presents and Desire, the author writes a great story about a couple who the reader can’t resist. It may revolve around well-worn themes and tropes, but the central story seems fresh, because it’s about these characters reinventing the story for their own use. Then the editor comes along and sharpens and hones it. She makes the author “kill her darlings.” She cuts out the flab, concentrates on the meat of the story and makes sure it all hangs together, that the internal story, the romance resonates with the outer, external plot, be it friends-to-lovers, secret baby or whatever. The internal and external stories depend on each other and progress logically to a satisfactory ending.
In this story, it seems that there is an interesting romance fighting to get out. For a start, the first 30% of the story is irrelevant to the romance or the characters. It’s all backstory, about how three sisters set out to make a success of their business, despite their interfering and wrong-headed father. They take a magazine and reinvent it, then spread their philosophy to the other magazines in the group. The sisters are really interchangeable. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference and couldn’t tell who is the heroine of the story for a few pages. Their appearances are not described, apart from the inevitable designer business wear, but since they all use it, that hardly helps.
I was bored. Had I picked this book up to read, rather than to review, I’d have DNF’d it much earlier than I did, because I didn’t care about the three magical, perfect sisters, and I didn’t care about their business.
The hero isn’t really there. He’s big, he’s bad, he’s a corporate raider, he’s got blue eyes and dark hair and he’s deeply boring.
Fox never makes me care and never makes me root for these characters. Her heavy reliance on cliche doesn’t help. They get into situations that there is nothing fresh about. They say that they can go to bed together and they can separate their lives, but there’s no reason for this, no compelling appeal, despite the inevitable descriptions of abs, breasts, skin, and so on. She is smart and in control of a business that he’s going for. So, what, they can’t keep it in their pants? The corporate raiding thing is just a ploy, something used when convenient.
Everything is so obvious. There is no hook at the start of the story, no reason to read on, and then there are lots and lots of “As you know, Bob,” conversations. And are there ever conversations! There are discussions after discussions. In fact, in the part of the book I read, very little happens, and people spend far more time talking. Most of the action is off the page, so we don’t see any of the characters doing their jobs. They just talk about it.
I have to mention my most unfavourite description of breasts is in this book. “Globes.” No. Breasts are half globes, if anything, but they’re not even that. They’re soft, they’re mounds of flesh, whatever, but the one thing they aren’t is globes. The sex is described by someone who may not know what sex is, or doesn’t get it, or doesn’t want to let too much out or something. Anyway, it’s as boring as the rest of the action, because once I’d decided that this book isn’t for me, I skipped to the first sex scene to see if it gets any better. It doesn’t.
The relentless uses of cliche, the wish-fulfillment over-perfect characters and the unconvincing background made me drop this book in favor of something that delivered a bit more.
CEO Keira McBride has put more than a decade of blood, sweat, and tears into restoring her family’s magazine empire and knows she can handle any business challenge thrown her way…until sexy billionaire and corporate raider Nathan Cooper makes a play for her legacy.
Nathan’s not accustomed to losing and neither is Keira. When an all-consuming attraction threatens to devour them both, Nathan makes it clear he wants to move their relationship out of the boardroom and into the bedroom. Keira knows it’s going to be the negotiation of her life and the stakes have never been higher. This time, her heart is on the line…
Read an excerpt.