by Skye Jordan, contemporary (2013)
Skye Jordan, $2.99, ISBN N/A
I took one look of the generic cover - complete with badly pasted tattoo, the same freaking tattoo that has appeared on so many "I wanna be Kristen Ashley, come dream of having sex with my tattooed romance hero on a bike, and make me rich while you're at it" indie romance novels - and cringed, but I was told that there were some good sizzling sexy smoochy-times here. Okay, it's only $2.99, so what the heck, right?
Our hero is Bentley Jaxon Chamberlin. Perhaps to overcompensate for being born with that name, he grows up to be Jax Chamberlin. He's a stuntman, complete with big tattoo, bigger bike, and even bigger spike. Of course, romance heroes can't be anything less than loaded with money, or else the fantasy won't be romantic, so Jax comes from money. That makes him a big indie romance cliché with big money. Be still, my frantic heart.
Naturally, we can't have a guy go solo, so he has five dudes in his brother-power brigade. They all call themselves Renegades, because that kind of thing will not get them laughed out of town. The Renegades are the stuntmen to call if you want someone dangling from the wall or something like that, and their books are all lined up. I hope the cover artist puts the same tattoo motive on all of them, because that would be a hoot.
Anyway, like six out of ten indie romances, Ms Jordan takes the opportunity to remind me that every woman other than the romance heroine is a whore. Whores with artificially enhanced beauty, because only "really" beautiful romance heroines are born that way. Bentley had parked in the garages of so many whores, backstabbing whores with Botox and worse, whores, whores, whore - OH MY GOD SO MANY WHORES! - until his latest Botox whore betrayed him and his Brotherhood of the Same Tattoo. She has the temerity to offer to make things right again if he would just lay back and let her do whore things to him. Bentley is about to agree, for the sake of his bro-band, until Tattooed Brotherhood Member #1 says, "Hell no, bro - bros before hos, remember? We even got matching tattoos on our bums to seal the deal, bro!"
Meanwhile, the only worthy woman in the world, Lexi LaCroix, is a wedding dress designer for the daughters of billionaires everywhere. Lexi and Jax may sound like the biggest white trash coupling since Pammy and Tommy Lee, but be assured that Lexi is not a whore. Her brief experience with men leaves her with a sad face, and she now ensures that her reputation is as spotless as can be. You see, billionaires don't want their daughters' wedding dresses to be made by whores, so Lexi can't let her reputation be stained even a little by the ghastly body fluids of other living creatures.
Unfortunately, her best friend, a more sexually adventurous cliché who holds the "A bit of a whore, but will probably get her own book, plus she poses no threat to our heroine, so she gets a pass" card, tends to drag her to sex clubs and hands her top secret classified government tracking device to get her non-whore please-don't-even-think-of-her-as-one jollies off. The last ends up with Lexi having a one night stand with Bentley, but don't worry, Lexi is not a whore because she's the romance heroine. Other women asked Bentley for favors to meet so-and-so in the business after a night of whore sex, but Lexi asks Bentley whether she can do his laundry instead. Truly the sign of a non-whore virtuous Botox-free NOT A WHORE SO SHUT UP heroine deserving of our hero's love!
I don't know what the author is trying to do here, other than to write stories to validate the insecurities of readers who want reasons to believe that they are better than the beautiful and more successful women out there in this world, but the non-whore agenda is surreal. The author created a new reality here, a fantasy world where fashion designers are held to the same standards as Mother Teresa, because we all know in the real world there are no fashion designers that sleep with their models, do drugs, say bigoted nonsense, and still make a killing from their designs. The fact that the author created this new reality just to force Lexi into a situation where she would pay dearly for spreading the honey even to the guy designated as her true love is... troubling, to say the least.
The conflicts in this story revolves around this "Oh no, people will think I'm a whore for having sex and I will die!" nonsense, so there is no escaping this poke in the eye where plot logic is concerned. Lexi and Bentley go on and on about whether or not they should be together - the sex doesn't stop, though, because these people know their priorities - and every time one of them has made peace with their constant shagging. the other fellow would find an excuse to put a sad face and threaten to flounce for everyone's sake.
Worse, there is really no reason for Lexi to subject herself to her self-imposed "I'm having sex but I WILL JUST DIE IF EVERYONE FINDS OUT!" drama. She's not lacking for money, she has proven that she is a talented designer, so, for the sake of Miley's beautiful wrecking ball, why doesn't she just tell her judgmental clients to go choke on lima beans or something? This is so stupid.
And then we have Bentley. He is fashioned after the heroes in other bestselling indie romances - tattoos, bikes, whatever - and he even behaves like one. Initially, he would go all "Bitches!" on those whores that clearly forced him to sleep with them, the poor darling, but once he parks in our heroine's garage, he's all sweetness, devoted dramatics, and possessive surly faces until it's time to play the martyr. He's from money, he has a stable history for a Hollywood denizen, and he doesn't do drugs, corpses, or barn animals. Therefore, all that drama about how he is going to ruin Lexi's life is just ridiculous.
Now, having said all this, the sex scenes are hot and, if I can overlook the absolutely braindead plot that smothers the whole story like a bad stench, the two characters show some enjoyable chemistry. That is, if I can overlook all that nonsense, and I can't. This story is wrecked from conception due to the indescribably dumb plot and the contrived drama that resulted from it. If you do want to buy this book and read it while sober, I strongly suggest skipping everything but the sex scenes.
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