Risk and Riches

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Risk and Riches (Dark Billionaire Romance Book 1)

Last Free Dates: 4th Mar 21 to 8th Mar 21
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...Light on the helicopters and billionaire lifestyle, strong on the Dallas or Dynasty overtones, and has the required happily ever after ending....

The cover shows a gentleman who has apparently forgotten how to shave and is wearing too much hair gel. Obviously this man is a billionaire due to his involvement in that shady industry called “boy bands”, which at least gives us a realistic reason for his billions. The table of contents is at the front, linked to the menu, and to the individual chapters, a rare finding and one that immediately place this book a cut above many others. The chapters alternate Point Of View, so both his and hers erotic thrills in one book.

When I found myself wanting to critique the front matter I knew it was time to move on (presumably to critique certain other front matter. We shall see.)

And the first two pages actually manage something I was not expecting: they imbue the lead male with character! It is a shallow trust fund character riddled with affluenza, but none the less it is there. He is bratty. inexperienced, and desperate to break away for an independence and responsibility that most of us have learned much earlier.

Chapter two gives us Audrey, a writer with a day job at a bookshop. She’s dealing with the girlfriend that even our lead male thinks is a brat, and suspecting correctly that she’s being taken advantage of to get free work out of.

The spelling and grammar is excellent, slipping into slang only during speech. The paragraphing is correctly indented for paragraph breaks. I was granted the unusual sight of the first paragraphs of chapters and after scene breaks being correctly handled and not indented, with the first few words in an emphasised style. Scene breaks are separated by a curled image making it a clear separator and very easy to read.

I begin to suspect someone has sprung an actually good book on me.

In a book less well-written I would suspect that the plot will be simple: Jamie stumbles over Audrey while she is working with Cece, Cece is more of a brat than normal, Our Hero bumps her to the curb for Our Heroine, with various sex combinations occurring along the way. In this author’s hands, the story is defining a supporting cast and an interesting bit of business intrigue. I would like to see where it goes, enough to wade through the sex scenes. A bonus would be given for the bold move of an Audrey and Cece pairing, but I suspect the author is a little less than willing to handle the true peccadilloes of the upper class. Some of them have ponies.

In the era of covid, should these not involve masks and hand sanitiser?

The book is upfront that the relationship with Jamie’s relationship with Cece is already dead and in the untidy untangling stages, rather than actually having her be nice and then turn into a nightmare. Audrey and Jaime’s developing relationship feels natural. Jaime is utterly sheltered, and does come across as a child to her adult, and I am curious to see if he has grown up enough to be a partner by the book’s end.

There are places where the his/her switch is skilfully used. For example, in Jaime’s chapter he doesn’t seem to have realised that handing a writer and journalist an opportunity to do an expose is going to harm him far more than her. She has to warn him about the damage and she doesn’t seem to warn him very strongly. When the discussion is repeated in her headspace we see that she is treating him as if he was the adult he wishes he was and not the manchild he still is. Honestly, a disgruntled heir trying to burn their family to the ground by a tell-all book is virtually de rigour these days so I am surprised they think it will have this much impact.

There is a certain lack of self-awareness with Jaime, for example his proud claim that he didn’t have “to cut corners and trample over people’s dreams” to get ahead while he’s planning to do trample over his family’s dreams while cutting corners by using connections that he only has because of them. His wonderful complaints that he did not benefit enough from nepotism, that his father seemed to forget he was his son while Jaime was working for him, and the sheer arrogance to claim that he was the most competent person in the company, are breathtaking in their naivete. His jealousy when he sees her succeeding and it is not because of him is well-written.

And on p77 the difference between their maturity levels results in an utterly natural and believable action that I have never seen before in a romance. I applaud the author. Sadly I am more cynical than both our leads together, I can see the plot twist coming, and a trip to a hospital would probably have derailed the plot.

I won’t spoil it but this is, contrary to my initial expectations, a romance not erotica, and a fifteen at most. It naturally builds a relationship between the two leads, has realistic conflict, a wonderful inversion of a certain scene in Fifty Shades of Grey, and most importantly has well-defined characters. I would not pay Jaime the compliment of saying he evolves throughout, but then he has had years of having the world on a plate to get over and his first brush with true responsibility is well handled. Audrey has her head of straight: a rare and precious trait in a romance heroine. Most wonderful of all, they talk. Comparing notes derails, as it should, ninety percent of the plots against them because no one expects them to. It is absolute breath of fresh air.

The ending is a little weak – these big business contracts are vetted by top lawyers on both sides, and trying to pull a fast one is par for the course. Bad guy billionaires don’t conveniently flee just because they are uncovered. Overall, if a reader were to take Fifty Shades of Grey, remove the bondage and most of the sex, add distinct characters, rationality, and a decent amount of business intrigue, they would have this book.

Romance readers who want an undemanding billionaire romance may enjoy it. It is light on the helicopters and billionaire lifestyle, strong on the Dallas or Dynasty overtones, and has the required happily ever after ending – lasting until, it need not be said, the next book. It does its job, it doesn’t particularly stand out from the crowd, and leaves you feeling good.

As I am not in this group, it is not my type of book, and I am giving it a three. Those who actually enjoy romance should ignore me and buy it.

P.S. I remain disappointed because I was gearing up to slate an erotica title and encountered this.

Also, this book has no ponies.

Rating: 3
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