Publication date: 12/10/2020
Kindle Unlimited: Yes
This one might be one of those "it's not you, it's me" scenarios, folks. But this one was most definitely NOT for me...
Plot overview: Veterinarian Rylen hires Natalie, who runs an escort service (not hookers, just paid dates) to pose as his fiancé at his ex-wife's wedding (to "stick it" to the ex).
Trope bingo: Single dad, fake relationship, escort service, destination wedding madness
I actually really love a good fake relationship story. And heroes who are good with animals and heroes who are great single dads are usually my catnip. But despite being written with my specifications in mind, this one completely missed the mark for me. Here's where it fell down (as far as I'm concerned):
1. The subtitle says, "A Vegas Bad Boys Novel". Rylen, the hero, is NOT a bad boy by any stretch of the imagination. I would've classified him as a "nice guy" hero or even a cinnamon roll...until the end of the story, that is. But more on that later. Point is, calling this a "bad boy" novel feels like false advertising, and I hate false advertising.
2. There's what feels like a huge expanse of time between the start of the book, and when Rylen meets Natalie, the heroine. During this time, as a reader, I was mostly told over and over again how cool, confident, strong, and smart Natalie is. That's all fine and good. I mean, I like a cool, confident, strong, and smart character as much as any other girl. But...I get it, OK? She's awesome. Can we get to the real story a little faster, please? Life's short and I have stuff to do. (And very little patience. Have I ever mentioned that I'm short on patience?)
3. There are 9 mentions of Swarovski crystals. I only mention that because 9 felt excessive. I actually stopped reading to say to myself, "Swarovski AGAIN?"
4. This one's gonna get crass, y'all. So, if you're easily offended or have delicate sensibilities, bow out now. Still with me? Great. Because these things are said during sex scenes:
5. I probably could've forgiven everything else, but at the end of the book, Rylen is a huge, flaming a-hole to Natalie. He treats her like utter crap. In fact, he was so awful that I didn't even want her to forgive him. This is the one time when I would've been perfectly fine with not having a happily ever after ending. But alas, Natalie forgave him without making him grovel AT ALL. All he had to do was show up and tell her he loved her and all asshattery was forgiven. Sigh.
6. And this is a minor thing...but I found it weird that even after Natalie and Rylen started dating, he was still paying for her time to attend the wedding with him. I'm perfectly comfortable with the concept of escorts, and I understand that her time is valuable. But when you're actually dating the guy...is it a job anymore? Or is it just a girlfriend, going to a wedding with her boyfriend? It all felt a little off to me.
7. There's also the fact that I never really believed that Rylen loved Natalie. That man was clearly still in love with his ex, as far as I was concerned.
So, long-story-short, this one wasn't my cuppa. But it has plenty of other great reviews, so hey, take my opinion with a huge grain of salt. You do you. No judgement here.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
It's not stigma-y. I just wanted Natalie to beat Rylen to death with her Swarovski crystal coat rack.