This book made me ragey. I’ve read a few books by Doyle and really, really enjoyed them so I was willing to give this book a shot. The premise of dudes in Alaska creating their own “Bachelor” type contest sounds ridiculous but also interesting.
There are going to be spoilers and there are too many to wrap tags around them. So if you don’t want to be spoiled about this book, please stop reading.
Eli the hero- 30, works in Alaska on an oil rig, tired of traveling to Anchorage for one night stands. Watches the Bachelor. Comes up with the idea to have a contest to bring women to Hope’s Crossing, aka BFE Alaska. As a side note, we don’t get to see any of the process on how he chose Shelby, our heroine.It just flashes forward and the contest is over and decided. Missed opportunity right here.
Eli has some serious mommy issues. His mom was a stripper when he was a kid and he thinks less of her. Blah. This is important for later things.
Shelby, the heroine- 24ish. From Louisiana. We learn early on that Shelby has some secrets, but we don’t learn specifics until much later. The story is dual POV, but predominantly via Eli which allows Shelby to hold on her to secrets for a little longer.
The middle section of the book is fairly uneventful with their relationship. They go on some outings, they have some sex. Leading in to the first time they have penetrative sex, we learn more bits of Shelby’s secrets. She is wary of the sex because someone treated her badly before. But we don’t get the full extent.
Fast forward to the second to last day of Shelby’s stay, we learn her secrets. Okay here comes the big spoilers. (This may be triggering to some, so be forewarned I am about to talk about sexual assault.)
Shelby was the victim of assault and revenge porn. Her ex-boyfriend and uncle drug her then record her while the ex-bf masturbates on her. He learn about this from a flashback and a discussion Shelby had with her uncle as he wants to do more of the videos. It is so incredibly gross and the worst part was Shelby barely recognizes that she’s been assaulted and has ZERO discussion with herself about, I don’t know, alerting the authorities. I hate this. Shelby wants to leave, but other than her uncle making a comment about her having nowhere to go, we don’t know what exactly is keeping Shelby living with her uncle. She’s over 18, she’s able bodied, she’s intelligent enough. But not giving me more info on why Shelby can’t leave, she borders on being too stupid to live. I despise TSTL. I was infuriated by Shelby not even thinking about reporting the assault. I know the stats and in real life women don’t report them. I know this. But to not even see Shelby consider this or wrongly logic out why she can’t/shouldn’t/won’t, I get upset. I got further upset that when the other characters find out, they do fail to mention/think/consider reporting said assault. The resolution is that Eli goes to find the uncle & boyfriend and returns to Shelby with some of their teeth and the original video on a flash drive. We don’t get to see what happened, we just to hear how the very manly man of a hero knocked their teeth out. This wasn’t even a blip for Shelby.
The other conflict was that once Eli learned that Shelby’s appearance on porn was due to assault and he forgives her for lying, she called him out for absolving her due to a “technicality” is shitty and that if she were a sex worker/performer of her free will she would still deserve forgiveness for her mistakes. (She was not saying that being a sex worker was the mistake, she was very much pro-sex work). But remember how I mentioned he had some mommy issues? Well this is where they come to play nd his inability to move on from his mom being a stipper and providing for the family, that all comes out here. He makes good with him mom, the mom moppets her way into the story and helps bridge the divide. It was so stupid.
The grovel was almost non-existent based on his transgressions. It wasn’t enough. But honestly, I was so angry at this point, I don’t know if 50 pages of groveling would have been enough. He never apologizes for being mad at her for finding out she had unwillingly participated in a porn video when she was drugged. I didn’t even mention the sneaky Jesus, aka mention of God doesn’t come in to play until more than 50% and only when conflict is presented. Anyway, at the end of the book I think I strongly disliked both characters and myself a little bit for having read this whole book. It will be a while before I read this author again and only have at least 5 trusted reading friend read it and tell me it is okay.