Reviewed by Kini
Rules are made to be broken…
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.
Alexis Hall is a new to me author and I was interested in this book when Mandi sent out one of her review lists. I enjoy the trope of a one main character being the one to get the other main character to break all their rules for love, so I had high hopes for this book.
Sadly, it didn’t hold up for me. Arden and Caspian have an interesting meet-cute. Arden is participating in a telethon for his university and is calling alumni for donations. Caspian is the first person that actually stays on the line and doesn’t hang up. Arden doesn’t initially know who Caspian is, but they engage in some mildly flirty banter and it was fun. Arden is awkward and doesn’t have much of a filter, that continues throughout the book. He is pretty open with his feelings whether it be with Caspian, his roommate Nik, his family, etc.
Caspian shows up at the school to attend the donation dinner and he and Arden attend together. Caspian is a closed off, emotionally shut down billionaire hero. At the dinner they end up on the balcony and Arden ends up giving Caspian a blow job, but can’t touch him. During this scene is pretty much the only time that Caspian opens up and shares with Arden. We only get Arden’s POV in this book and I feel like this attributes largely to my dislike of Caspian. I didn’t find him very interesting, sexy, or worthy of Arden’s time.
This book definitely has a little bit of a 50 shades feel to it. Arden is fresh out of college and Caspian offers him a place to stay. Caspian has dominant undertones, but pretty much hates himself for them. He is also really shitty to Arden by not being available or willing to communicate things with him. Granted they do enter into a casual relationship with an expiration date, but still. I didn’t enjoy the sex scenes, it felt like Caspian was using Arden. I am a little surprised that Caspian didn’t have a take on the “I don’t make love, I fuck” line. As a side note to the sex scenes, they never felt particularly sexy and there was no talk of things like condoms or lube and I found this incredibly troublesome. The BDSM is fairly light in this book and really only occurs as Caspian being in charge of the situation, and constantly saying he wants to take care of Arden, and then promptly treats him poorly.
Hall’s writing style is a style that I am not familiar with and is probably not for me. Several of the words used were things I had to look up, at least once the Kindle dictionary described a word as being archaic or old-style. One example is gamahuche, which is a word for fellatio. Looking up words like this took me out of the story and made me feel a little inferior for not knowing.
The first half of the story dragged for me and I had a hard time finishing the book. It picked up around 60% when Arden was spending time with his roommate Nik, another friend, and then his family. I liked everyone in this book except Caspian, who just came off as cold and unwilling to even try to be different. I don’t think he groveled enough to be worthy of Arden’s forgiveness. This is clearly part of series and there are things that do not get resolved, although Arden and Caspian are happyish at the end. The only thing that would get me interested in reading the next in the series is if Arden drops Caspian and starts a relationship with Nik.