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LynneC’s review of The Art of Trusting a Greek Billionaire by Marian Tee
Contemporary Romance published by Jaded Speck Publishing, December 2013

I’m currently going through the 99 cent and free books I grabbed greedily when they first started coming out. With most of them I’m reading a page or two and removing them from my tablet, in favour of books I’m actually going to read. Then this one popped up. If it hadn’t been so short I doubt I’d have finished it.  At 21,000 words, it’s not even novella length.

The Art of Trusting a Greek Billionaire is a the second book in a series, but I didn’t flounder, reading it as a standalone. It also introduces two other male characters, presumably future heroes. It’s extremely short. I’ve always found working with the limitations of under 30,000 words extremely difficult, because it’s so hard to get motivations and points of view working in that space, so I have admiration for people who can pull it off. Unfortunately, Ms. Tee can’t quite manage it.

Like Mairi, the heroine of this book, I’m a sucker for billionaire books, especially the Harlequin ones. But unlike the heroine, I have no illusions about this trope making it into real life. One look on Google Images of real life billionaires stops that. You have to take the Trumps with the billions.

Never mind, this is a fantasy built on a fantasy. There is a kind of cute explanation of why the heroine is stuck on the stories. She was brought up by two maiden aunts, who used them instead of fairy tales (the late Penny Jordan once told me that the books she wrote were modern fairy stories, with Cinderella the favourite). Mairi works in Greece at a school for young ladies, and Damen’s sister is there. There were a few typos where Damen became Damien, but at least the name was similar!

The story starts with Damen’s engagement to a sketchily described Greek girl, the sister of one of his friends. She gives the impression of a cardboard cutout rather than a real person.

So Mairi is pissed. As any self-respecting woman would be, since in the previous book she connects with Damen. That’s the story, really, and then Damen realises he loves her, even though it might damage his business to do so.

A word here. Unless that trope is really well set up, I can’t believe it. Nobody cares who a billionaire marries, fucks, or makes babies with. Honestly, they don’t. The morality of the people in the boardroom is really low down in the hierarchy, a long, long way after making money and networking. Damen didn’t have to marry anyone to get what he wanted.

Mairi spends the book either crying or bonking. She doesn’t seem to have a backbone and returns to Damen the minute he crooks his finger. There is a bathroom scene vaguely reminiscent of the famous one by Linda Howard in After the Night, but where the Howard scene is probably one of the hottest I’ve ever read, this one is done half-heartedly and without the reader having an interest in either character it falls flat.

Plot devices are thrown in haphazardly, but external motivation without meaningful internal ones seem pointless and clichéd. The meaningless and pointless engagement between Damen and whatsername and the inappropriate sex don’t work. Although Damen is engaged to another person and Mairi keeps refusing to have sex with him, they do the nasty several times in the book.

Because she uses “fuck” and even “cunt” occasionally, the author is probably listing this as erotic romance. It isn’t. It’s straight sex with dirty words and it isn’t described fully enough or in enough depth to make the cut.

Conflicts and tensions are explained in the story, rather than told by action or mood. I never felt connected to any of the characters, and the repetition of “Greek billionaire” made me want to scream. Okay, so he’s a Greek billionaire. So was Aristotle Onassis.

There isn’t really a coherent flow to the story. It hops from scene to scene, sometimes breaking off at an illogical moment and leaving the reader wondering is jarring. It’s as if the author wrote a bunch of scenes and then plonked them down one after the other.

The poor writing skills and the badly drawn characters, together with the lack of any real tension or conflict, adds up to an unsatisfactory read. It’s a shame, because if the writer had put the two books together, worked on the continuity and improved her writing skills this could have been a cute little story. What she really needs is a good content editor who will knock her into shape,  leave her battered and bruised but a much better writer.

The style, formatting, and the writer’s voice are all pretty good, so it’s a real shame that the author doesn’t have the benefit of a rigorous content edit from someone she couldn’t ignore. She’s half formed and in a few manuscripts could be expected to produce something publishing-worthy. I like the idea of a heroine who loves Harlequin romances and a real-life billionaire hero, but unfortunately the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

I’m seeing this a lot recently, books by half-ready writers, and I get the feeling that the self-publishing route is becoming the new slush pile. Of course it’s much, much more than that, but this is yet another of its purposes. Just like the old system, some are taking and some are not, and it’s about as fair as the old one used to be, but bypassing the ungentle hands of the content editor isn’t doing anyone any favors.

Apparently there are more stories in this sequence, but I feel no urgent need to pursue them.

LynneCs iconGrade: D-


Once upon a time, there was a little girl who grew up listening to bedtime stories that had ordinary women falling in love with Greek billionaires. It made her dream that she’d one day have Her Own Greek Billionaire to live happily ever after with.
When this little girl grew up, she found what she was looking for – but he did not believe in the same bedtime stories. When she told Damen Leventis she loved him at first sight because he was a Greek billionaire, he did not think she was a hopeless romantic. Instead, he thought she was a gold digger.
This is my story.
I mean your story.
I mean, Mairi Tanner’s story.

No excerpt available.