REVIEW: Unscrupulous by Avery AsterFriday, November 1, 2013 0:00
As I mentioned when reviewing the previous Manhattanites book, I was drawn to this series by the blurb I was sent, which included an intriguing content warning for ‘just about everything your besties ever told you not to do–including getting vajazzled’, and read that story first because I’m a stickler for reading things in order. I was a little concerned on starting Unscrupulous that, firstly, the bad porn dialogue of the first would feature once again, and ,secondly, that the content warning would fail to deliver on its promises. My first concern wasn’t fully realised, but as for the second…
I’ve always been fascinated by body modifications, even though I didn’t get my ears pierced for the first time until I was 17. I learned about more female intimate piercings from Susie Bright’s Lesbian Sex World, followed by a trip to London (this being before I found a piercer I trusted in Edinburgh), while at university. But I’ve never really investigated vajazzling before. Reading Unscrupulous doesn’t exactly help me on that score. Taddy, a self-made millionaire after being disowned by her wealthy parents (she rises from being a Playboy centrefold at 18 to running a successful PR agency after college, which I’ll go with, I suppose), goes on holiday to a resort owned by Warner, a self-made billionaire and the third richest man in the world (I could almost buy the former but not so much the latter, given what we see of his personality and backstory in this book).
The two don’t meet until a quarter of the way through the book, by which time Taddy has been vajazzled for the one and only time in the story; we’re told she gets rubies but nothing more – no description of what pattern she goes for (and there are names for the different types, I just found out on the web), or what it looks like viewed from above and/or in the mirror, or even how getting decorated makes her feel (unlike Susie Bright’s memoir, which I seem to remember told me all that and more about her piercing). When Taddy meets Warner in one of his nightclubs (at which point she first mistakes him for the American football player she’s been crushing on, and then mishears his name when he corrects her error), they share an intimate moment in the course of which some of Taddy’s vajazzling rubies come off on Warner’s hands. Okay, it becomes an important plot point later, but I really cringe at the idea of such things becoming unstuck – who knows where they might end up and cause embarrassing irritation? – and will stick with my metalwork, thank you very much.
Taddy goes back to Warner’s place, but before they can get inside, they meet the most clichéd of all evil exes ever. Considering how much I like the friendships between the women elsewhere in this book, I’m really disappointed in her and almost gave up on the book at this point. Taddy storms off, but not before Warner can tuck his business card into her handbag, which has been dropped in the mud.
Reunited with the friends she’s holidaying with, Taddy swears off men for at least a year in order to concentrate on building her business to even greater heights. They go back to New York and Taddy and Warner don’t meet for the whole next third of the book (she only told him her nickname and it’s not until he spots some of the vajazzling rubies spilled on the floor of one of his spa rooms that he’s able to follow a paper trail back to her booking-in details at the hotel). They finally get together again when Taddy’s Mormon PA (whose character really did save this book from being a total failure) accidentally causes an incident at one of Warner’s other hotels and Taddy swoops in to bail her out, promising Warner that she’ll get him some good publicity out of the mess in return for his not pressing charges.
The pair of them resolve their issues, along with dealing with some of Taddy’s family-related backstory (but leaving enough question marks for that arc to continue into later books), and then we get more scoop on Taddy’s business dealings (which I find way more interesting than the romance). It all ends happily, and aside from those family-related loose ends, the book stands pretty well on its own as well as adding to the series.
As with Undressed I feel that this novel consists of two stories of different genres fighting for dominance. There’s the chick-lit story of Taddy’s business and friendships, not to mention her mentoring of her fascinating PA, which I quite enjoyed. And then there’s the erotic romance with its over-reliance on having all its heroes excessively well-endowed, its references to other people besides the main couple getting up to all kinds of perversions, and its almost complete lack of description of the vajazzling we’re promised in the content warning. I like a good cross-genre story, but sadly I feel this author needs to get better at blending rather than shoehorning her genres together. Still, if she ever decides to write pure chick-lit, I’ll consider looking at it.
At thirty-three, Warner Truman is one of the richest men on the planet, a spa mogul who buys and sells resorts at will. He holds powerful executives’ careers in his well-groomed hands. Nothing is beyond Warner’s reach…until he meets her.
Stunning, tantalizing and perverse, Taddy Brill captivates Warner’s carnal desire like no woman he’s ever met. A self-made millionaire, Taddy is tougher than steel, more brilliant than diamonds and, at twenty-seven, she’s never depended on a man for anything…until she meets him.
The more Taddy plays with Warner’s affections, driving him to erotic heights, the more she is confronted by a dark past. Before she can love him, Taddy must meet her worst fears head-on or risk losing it all, including herself.
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