Crave
by Monica Murphy, contemporary (2013)
Avon Impulse, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-06-228935-3


You may have read previous works of Monica Murphy when she was writing as Karen Erickson. Crave is the first book in the succinctly-titled Billionaire Bachelors Club series for Avon Impulse. The author says in the afterword that this story is a departure of sorts for her, and if this is the case, then she has boarded the choo-choo train from familiar territory into the land of Fifty Shades Of Oh God, It's Now As Boring As Watching Paint Dry Already After So Many Wannabes; Move On Already, where I understand money still grow on trees and everyone is a New York Times bestseller. Or is that the land of New Adults Swimming In Money?

I get confused sometimes, because it's increasingly harder to tell the natives of those two countries apart these days. They are all starting to smell the same.

So, Crave. We have three billionaires, all with all their hair, six pack abs, and age below the big 3-0. This is Archer Bancroft's story. He's hot, gorgeous, dark, and has a wardrobe full of designer angst. The author helpfully has him described as "damaged and broken" in case I confuse Archer with a spoon or something. Basically, his parents suck, he doesn't believe in love, so, underneath all that shiny teeth and shinier credit cards, he's just being surly because he really wants true love with the right woman. Basically, he's designed to appeal to readers who spend hours arguing on forums over which guy they want to play their favorite broken-damaged-clichéd twonk on screen.

Archer bets with his friends a million bucks, with the winner being the last bachelor standing. Oh, don't worry, they won't be paupering themselves soon - these people spend their weekends in Vegas betting millions of dollars for fun, when they are not coming up with creative ways to reduce the amount of tax money they need to pay. I wonder whether they are Republicans. Not that it matters, because they can be Green Party hobos for all I care - I just want the money.

Well, you know things can be. After the bet is laid, Archer soon finds himself hoping to, er, lay onto Ivy Emerson, the sister of his best friend and future hero of his own book Gage, because he has always wanted her. Only, it's icky because she's the sister of his good friend and, also, he's older than her by - brace yourself, this is going to be shocking - four years. Ivy wants him bad too, and the both of them just know that they are meant for each other because... I don't know, maybe it's because they're both hot and the story is going to end soon so they have better start getting naked.

So, after all that supposed longing for each other from afar, these two surprisingly enough need little prodding to start going at it like crazy. There is some "Does he love me like I love him? Does she love me like I love her? Let me sigh a bit before we get naked again" drama, some half-hearted fallout from her discovering his bet, and then it's the end.

On the bright side, this one doesn't have weird kinks or disturbing power imbalances that typically mark the effort of an EL James wannabe, and Archer is positively Mr Rational compared to those other so-called broken and damaged whackjobs. That could be because this story is too short for him to act like a psychopath with nipple clamps, but still, I'd take all the pretty things that I can get. Other than this, there isn't anything here to give me any reason to tell everyone that this is a must read story. It's a watered down vanilla version of those stories, without the over-the-top obnoxious angst that typifies those books. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends, of course, on how much you like all that angst.

Rating: 60


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