I have a confession to make. Somewhere in my head, I had thought that the first book in the series, Mr. Perfect, had been reviewed favourably here and that led me to request Mr. Romantic. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. (There has been a book reviewed very positively here but it wasn’t from this series. It was Rock: A Rock Star Romantic Suspense).
As it turned out, I had a problem with the premise of the entire series, which is reminiscent of the Duke Lacrosse case. Except in the Mister series, there are five rich white guys accused of rape, they all went to Brown and their accuser died before the case could go to trial. A “hero falsely accused of rape” is rarely going to work for me. Sure, there are false allegations of rape made by women to men very occasionally. The overwhelming majority of sexual assault allegations women make are TRUE. In fact, if anything, sexual assault against women is vastly under-reported. And one of the reasons is the rape culture which pervades our society – a culture which is only perpetuated by series’ such as this.
While I haven’t read/listened to the earlier book in the series (and I won’t now), the added conceit of Mr. Romantic is that there is a deliberate ambiguity as to whether or not the “hero” actually did rape the woman who accused him and his four frat brothers ten years earlier.
Mr. Romantic is poorly named. A less romantic “hero” I have rarely come across. He wasn’t just an alphahole – I can deal with alphaholes. He was rude, crude, occasionally violent, mean, thoughtless, misogynistic and generally shitty. For example, the first time he has sex with Ivy Rockwell, he doesn’t notice she is screaming in pain rather than pleasure. He “likes it hard and rough” and Ivy’s virginal vagina struggles with the battering. Yes, she didn’t tell him she was a virgin but regardless, being so completely oblivious to his sexual partner’s reactions was decidedly not-heroic. He later reflects that all the previous non-virgins he has had sex with were nothing more than “sloppy seconds”. Nice. He skirts the line of consent with Ivy repeatedly – at one point he walks in on her about to have a shower. He doesn’t knock and she asks him to leave. He doesn’t leave. She at first tells him no to sex but he keeps on until he is able to persuade her to say yes. (I’ll have more to say about Ivy later.) But he had already ignored her “no” a number of times. It did not make me believe he knew where the line of consent actually was.
To be fair, later in the book, there was some explicit discussion about consent and when he and Ivy played out a rape fantasy scene, she did specifically consent to it. That said, during the scene he suggested he would ignore her safeword – yes it was part of the scene (that he invented on the fly mind you) but the ambiguity of it was more than unsettling. Later – spoiler alert – he even blamed his desire for rape fantasy scenes on the woman who accused him of rape! It was all her fault! Except continuity matters and that just didn’t fly with the timeline. It was abundantly clear Nolan had rape fantasies before he met the woman in question.
Ivy, for her part, needed to run screaming from Nolan Delany. His disrespect for her boundaries made her scared, but not, unfortunately, enough for her to actually stand up for herself and leave. He was not nice to her. He was not charming. He was pushy and mean and he hurt her but she stopped short of actually heading for the hills. In the end, I decided that she was Too Stupid To Live and they probably deserved each other.
Ivy allowed Nolan, a notorious manwhore, to have sex with her without a condom. When he offered to get her a morning-after pill later, she refused stridently to ever take an “abortion pill” (factually incorrect) and at that point I had no patience left for her either.
I mentioned continuity errors – there were a number of them. So much so that the plot jumped the shark entirely to beyond ridiculous.
If I’d cared more about Ivy I probably would have been more concerned that Nolan tied her up for hours and she had had nothing to eat or drink all day. No, I’m lying. I actually was pretty concerned about that. Give the girl some water and crackers at least!!
I did not like this book. I pretty much wanted to set it on fire.
The narration is difficult to judge given my reaction to the premise, the plot and the characters. But here goes. Tad Branson does a good oily creep. I’m not sure if that’s an endorsement. But he definitely made Nolan Delany sound like the abusive asshat he was. He didn’t do too badly with the female character voices and I couldn’t hear him breathing so he gets the most points for narration.
Erin Mallon, on the positive side of the ledger, sounded a lot like Rachel Fulginiti. I don’t think she is Rachel Fulginiti because there is one notable difference between the two (I double checked just to be sure) – there were audible breaths (more like gasps) at the end of just about every sentence and Ms. Fulginiti doesn’t subject her listeners to that. Still, if a listener doesn’t mind heavy breathing in her ear and likes Ms. Fulginiti’s style, Ms. Mallon might work.
I’m going with a C grade for the narration because I think it was probably mostly the story that I struggled with – well, that and the heavy breathing. But the narration wasn’t all terrible.
I haven’t talked about the plot of Mr. Romantic much. Let me see: Ivy Rockwell gets a strange and unexpected invitation to interview for a position she is underqualified for, to work managing an exclusive resort owned by Nolan Delany. She has to sign a non-disclosure agreement (which she immediately breaches) just to go. Because hubris, Ivy decides she just might let Nolan relieve her of her v-card while she’s there. I’ve listened to and enjoyed sillier books before – if either of the characters (preferably both) had charmed me, maybe I could have enjoyed this one. I did not.
My review in a nutshell: It’s awful. Avoid like the plague.
Book Content: D
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence Rating: Graphic fighting/sexual violence/rape fantasy
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Podium Publishing
Mr. Romantic was provided to AudioGals for a review.