by Kate Willoughby, contemporary (2008)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.75, ISBN 978-1-59578-460-5
Hostile Takeover reminds me a lot of those trashy glitz-lit stories by Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins that were so popular in the 1980s. You may know what I am talking about - stories of sex-crazy very rich men and the naughty nymphomaniacs who love them, set amidst the backdrop of too much money, glamor, and what not.
When the story opens, we have 31-year old man known simply as Rockwell who gets aroused as he spies on our heroine, Fiona Sheridan, using the swimming pool. She's 20 and the daughter of Rockwell's business associate. Fiona is studying about the ocean and she plans to be a dolphin trainer. She is also infatuated with Rockwell. You can make your own dolphin jokes as she later lets him cop a feel here and there before chickening out of going all the way. But ah, never fear, romance is definitely written in the stars when her stepfather offers Rockwell one night with Fiona in exchange of Rockwell's financial aid and Rockwell insists that he will help bail out the ailing Sheridan Textiles if he gets to have sex with Fiona for one week instead of merely one night. Fiona, naturally, is oblivious to the fact that she's being prostituted by her own father to the man she has a crush on.
I have not mentioned that the stepfather, Frank, has cameras installed in the relevant rooms so that he can play with himself while watching Rockwell shag Fiona, have I?
Needless to say, Hostile Takeover is better off treated as an erotic story where everything is just a set-up for some sexual fantasy to unfurl instead of a sober romance because the story breaks many rules from the get-go. Characterization is meager in this story, but I believe that the eroticism of the story is the main selling point here. Besides, I can't say that I am interested in what these characters are thinking, to be honest. They are all sleazy in one way or the other - they are so much more palatable when they are naked and doing things, if you know what I mean, instead of speaking. I personally have no problems enjoying this story because the author has done a good job in setting up the story for some politically incorrect rumpy-pumpy fun.
The only reservation I have is the fact that the author has the two main characters in love at the end of the day. If this story is all about sex, I have no problems with it. But when love comes into the equation, that's when I have problems because I don't understand why Fiona will (correctly) view her stepfather as the bad guy but at the same time decides to love Rockwell who is every bit as guilty as her father. Is Rockwell an appealing stud figure for a naughty story? Oh yes, he's domineering, arrogant, and selfish yet skilled lover - what's not to adore in a central figure in an erotic story? But when the author attempts to sell him to me as an attractive husband material, that's when I have to go, "Oh no, you're not telling me that, oh no!" Rockwell is the guy to be used and then kicked out of the bedroom, not someone you marry, in my opinion. Love ruins everything in this story, I tell you.
Still, despite the obligatory lip service to love and romance which I feel is the biggest flaw of this story, Hostile Takeover is a pretty entertaining naughty short story. It all depends on whether you can get into the fantasy offered in this story, of course, so pick your poison accordingly.
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