Rules are made to be broken . . .
If England had yearbooks, I’d probably be “Arden St. Ives: Man Least Likely to Set the World on Fire.” So far, I haven’t. I’ve no idea what I’m doing at Oxford, no idea what I’m going to do next and, until a week ago, I had no idea who Caspian Hart was. Turns out, he’s brilliant, beautiful . . . oh yeah, and a billionaire.
It’s impossible not to be captivated by someone like that. But Caspian Hart makes his own rules. And he has a lot of them. About when I can be with him. What I can do with him. And when he’ll be through with me.
I’m good at doing what I’m told in the bedroom. The rest of the time, not so much. And now that Caspian’s shown me glimpses of the man behind the billionaire I know it’s him I want. Not his wealth, not his status. Him. Except that might be the one thing he doesn’t have the power to give me.
POV & Tense:
Arden St. Ives, book 1
384 e-book pages
1st Person Single, Past tense
See the book on Goodreads
So I have a shelf of books I call FSoG Redone. And umm….this seems to slot quite easily into that category.
And I don’t mean that in any disparaging way. Other than, maybe, to note that I didn’t think I’d be adding any more books to that shelf. Ever.
I mean, the title should have been a hint, I guess.
Sometimes I miss even the not-so-subtle hints.
Okay. So I have to give credit to the Fifty Shades of Deplorable Writing Phenomena for bringing me back to romance after a long hiatus. I can’t deny that fact, even if I deeply DESPISED the whole Fifty Shades thing. Because of that hideous book I took on the task of seeking out BETTER stuff. Because I just KNEW it was out there.
And, it stands to reason, that in some round-about way, it’s why I’m now a blogger. Sigh…credit where credit is due and all that to E.L. James, if I must.
Why one of my most favoritest of favorite authors decided to dip his nib or tickle his keyboard (or whatever) to jump on the decade old bandwagon of writing in the vein of Fifty Shades I’ll never know.
But honestly, I’M SO GLAD HE DID.
It can be argued that the Emotionally Damaged BDSM Billionaire is way overdone. I think it’s nearly impossible to give this trope a completely fresh spin.
I can’t say this was a super fresh take on the trope. But, for me, eyeballs deep in the world M/M reader that I am, this was HIGHLY entertaining. It was smart(er) and it managed to have quite a bit more depth. LOADS more depth. It definitely gets more respect from me for its far superior artistry — which, admittedly, probably isn’t such a taxing stretch. But I’ve read A PLENTY of Alexis Hall to know to my bones he’s an artist with the words.
I wondered way back in the days of FSoG why the British author chose to set her books in the States — those elements were SO poorly done, almost like she’d never been to the US at all. Alexis, the sublime British author he is, did that — kept it in England, that is. On the campus of Oxford and parts of London and the northernmost northerly parts of Scotland. And while the setting isn’t a massive backdrop to the arc of the story, it’s executed beautifully — in my wholly American opinion for what it’s worth.
And Arden, in the lead of the Billionaire’s Unlikely Love Interest, was adorable, witty, hilarious, and seemed to do a far better job holding his own. He was far more self-aware and did a better job of maintaining his autonomy than the feckless Anastasia Steele — at least so far in the series.
While the Billionaire was all damaged and dead-set against having a regular relationship based on respect-n-healthy-stuff, he didn’t come across as the vapid, teetering-on-the-edge-of-abusive shell of a character as FSoG’s Christian Gray. So, yay!
Honestly, I could probably do some sort of scene by scene comparison because even though I loathed FSoG with the fire of a thousand suns, I’m fine with admitting that I probably read it six or ten times trying to pinpoint exactly what had everyone so enthralled — because there was that…certain *something*…that went beyond the OMG kink-factor that had everyone whispering and giggling.
But I’m not gonna do that. Probably because I’d bore myself to tears and I don’t want to subject y’all to all that.
I’m pretty certain sure this series is meant to be a little (read: a lot) tongue-in-cheek, maybe it’s a performance of Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better with Andy instead of Annie Oakley. I don’t know…don’t care. Because if y’all haven’t figured it out yet then I’m gonna drop a MAJOR LIFE SPOILER and say that every word Alexis Hall writes is kind of amazing.
Yeah, I said it.
If you’ve got the FSoG experience under your belt, this take might help cleanse your mind. If you never read that series…no worries, don’t bother, save yourself. Read this instead. Because truly, these characters have depth, these characters are witty, this has better pacing and flow and just reads SO much smarter for a truly enjoyable reading experience.