Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Alexis Hall - How to Bang a Billionaire

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.

Comment: In 2016 I've read my first book by this author. I liked it a lot and have all intentions of keeping on reading his work but as any reader will know, TBR lists don't go and get read by themselves... anyway, recently I got this title, in a different series/world than the one of the other book I've read and I was very curious because I wanted to see if the other book was not just a fluke, but the proof this author was one I'd love to be a fan of. However, I'm now debating some things after having read this one.

This story focuses on Arden St Ives and how he, a student at Oxford, is introduced while working the phones in a volunteer event to call people who used to study there in order for them to do a beneficial donation to the university or something like it.
In one of his phone calls - after many "no" and several hang ups - he starts to have a more personal conversation instead of the usual polite words volunteers are expected to exchange with a potential patron. 
After an awkward meeting in person soon after the phone call, Arden realizes the man he was so sincere with happens to be Caspian Hart, an important billionaire. While things seem to heat up between them the more they spend time together, will their differences end up being too much for them to hold on to one another?

Reading the blurb of the book, I expected something in the lines of a "different class" relationship, a type of trope I tend to enjoy in romances. Also, Arden seemed to describe himself as someone not good enough in life and I started to imagine interesting scenarios where that would change with the help of true love. Yes, I'm still a hopeless romantic!
However, I should have guessed things might not be that amazing for me when I realized the story would be only told from Arden's POV and that, apparently, this book is thought to be a version of another famous book out there...

After looking at some reviews on goodreads some details became rather obvious that this was very similar to Fifty Shades of Grey (FSoG), a book I have not read but that is not that hard to have an idea of, considering the fame it got and the fanfic/adaptations/debates around it. I think one doesn't have to read it to be aware of the plot (or lack thereof) or some main ideas.
What I don't know is if this story by Alexis Hall was meant to be a gay version, thus showing of the possibilities if well written by a talented author or if this was parody, in which case I didn't find it so, or if there was a real intent in writing a fictional story about these characters, but if so I didn't like it.

Even putting aside that, the plot actually didn't seem to be that interesting. When they first met, it was nice to see the differences between them but as the time went by, and having only one of their POVs, things got very repetitive, very boring pretty quick. I struggled to find interest in Arden's problems in being focused or in deciding if accepting Caspian's help was the sign of him being an easy lay or taking the chances while he could enjoy being with Caspian. Towards the end, something happens to build up the angst and climax but to be honest, I skimmed some pages (and all the sex) which made me feel a little bad but the story just didn't feel engrossing for me.

The characters weren't someone I liked spending time with. Their actions often felt silly and I can only imagine if that was on purpose for it to be more alike FSoG.
Arden is the narrator but it's difficult to keep up with him. He has a cute side, that's true, but more often I found him to bee too distracting from everything else and his "voice" was often everywhere, I struggled to be able to care about him and about his lack of confidence in some aspects of his life. What I thought would endear him to me wasn't the focus and I started to lose interest.
As for Caspian, who knows, there's an obvious lack of voice in him, and not only because he isn't the narrator nor do we have access to his thoughts. He's too silent, too distant, too mysterious. I can't understand why Arden likes him. So, basically: too much Arden to the point of him being distracting and not enough Caspian.

I felt like this was wasted talent on Alexis Hall side. He is talented, brilliant and that can be seen in the other book I've read but this time, it was a no for me. If I can find positives here, it has to be his ability to write. Sadly, the story felt boring overall and at the end there are things I can't even understand why were included. The end had some interesting details but it was not enough to save this for me. I was eager to finish and I won't read the follow up and don't feel I'll miss much. 
I think I'll go back to other titles by the author to try to find something I'll like again.

So far, my ideas regarding the DNF concept have been solid. I finish all books I read but I'm seriously reconsidering this. I think from next year on, I'll revise this because some books are really a chore, they aren't fun to spend time with and the TBR list is never ending in my case. It's not an easy decision even if for many it is. But books where the story and characters and the "feel" aren't there, it can be quite depressing to just go page after page to be able to say "I finished". This book would have definitely be one of those so I can't say I feel validated to have done so.
Grade: 3/10

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