Any Way You Want It
by Maureen Smith, contemporary (2012)
Kimani, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-373-53461-6


Maureen Smith's Any Way You Want It has a title that seems to be the right fit for an erotic romance, but the title is actually closer in spirit to the detached and perpetually bored kid behind the counter asking me in a monotone, "Welcome to Burger King, we make your burgers any way you want it... fries or onion rings with that, madam?" There are many, many familiar tropes here, all thrown together without any cohesion, as if the author is throwing everything into the magic burger in hope that I would like something out of the whole mess.

Zandra Kennedy wants ex-Navy SEAL Remington "Remy" Brand bad. The fact that he's an ex-Navy SEAL just happens to be thrown in here, not that it has much relevance to the big picture - I guess it's just a short hand for "big penis" or something. Remy wants her just as bad too, but she doesn't want to hook up with the man because it would ruin their friendship. However, everyone else here, even strangers, can immediately sense that Zandra and Remy are just begging to boink one another (maybe it's the prominence of Remy's "big bulge" every time he's in a scene) so I don't know why she is fighting so hard. Then again, if she doesn't do this, we don't have much of a story.

These two have a one-night stand, one that goes the whole nine yards and then some more, when they meet while Zandra is holidaying in the Caribbean with the rest of Remy's family. Even this setting is an excuse to promote the previous book - Zandra's BFF married Remy's twin brother, and those two newlyweds have everyone they know tag along for the honeymoon. The better to promote how happy and often-shagged they are, naturally, while cheerleading the two on during the refractionary period because they can just tell that Zandra and Remy are meant to join body parts together, forever and ever.

Back in the USA, Zandra is like, okay, playtime over, time to keep those hot legs shut and pretend that the whole oral-anal-vaginal party of the year thing is done with. Remy is like, hell no, here comes my pee-pee, except the external conflict rears its head and forcefully penetrates the rear end of their budding boink-mance of the millennium.

You see, Zandra runs the top escort agency in Illinois. She insists that she's not a pimp because that her girls only sleep with their customers voluntarily and free of charge. The guys only pay for platonic comforts. Now you know why this agency is the most popular in that place. Her BFF was previously her employee and this BFF slept with her client (Remy's brother) without much ado, but that's not a whore thing because it's true love. Read all about if you are still skeptical.

Anyway, Zandra. I don't know why the author tries so hard to make her own plot look so ridiculous. If she doesn't want people to consider her heroine a happy pimp, why not have Zandra own a maid-for-hire agency instead? This story has issues. It's like a Harlequin Mills & Boon heroine - it wants to let its hair down and have fun, but is afraid that people will call it a whore, so it tries to be a happy whore only halfway and ends up looking completely stupid.

Anyway, Zandra's father wants to get actively involved in politics, and he wants Zandra to close down her business. Because her father is a cruel asshole, Zandra gives him the finger. Meanwhile, the man's rival wants Remy to dig up the dirt on Zandra so that the man can discredit Zandra's father. Remy is like, okay, I can't do that to the woman I love but OH GOD THE WORLD PUTS SO MUCH PRESSURE ON ME SO I MUST NOBLY PROCEED TO HURT HER. Naturally, he starts pawing Zandra's employees as a client and making her go all jealous and mad while hating himself, but he has to do it, or else someone else would hurt Zandra just like he would hurt her, and that would be bad. Don't hate him, readers, he's suffering the pawing of other hussies because it's all for Zandra's own good!

The rest of the story progresses exactly like you'd think it would, and the characters are exactly what you'd think they are. There are no shortage of clichés and stereotypes here, all tossed together in a plot that doesn't make much sense. Characters here do stupid things for the sake of being stupid.

The story isn't sexy either, because the author exaggerates everything - every dance is so provocative, every bulge is so big, every orgasm is so explosive - to the point that the whole thing feels like a parody of a lurid bodice-ripper. Or a "sexy tale" written by someone whose imagination resides at least fifteen galaxies away from actual reality where sex and sensuality is concerned.

Any way I slice it, Any Way You Want It is just too daft for its own good.

Rating: 46


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