Jessica Clare, Once Upon A Billionaire

WARNING: Major spoilers and cranky ranting ahead! You’ve been warned!

I have a…volatile relationship with this series. I read the first book, Stranded with a Billionaire, I was intrigued. Wasn’t the best thing I ever read, but it was entertaining and told a solid story. I was interested enough to keep an eye out for the next books in the Billionaire Boys Club series.

Then came book 2, Beauty and the Billionaire. I loved this book more than…well….I don’t even know what. I read about 250 books last year. Of those I gave 5-stars to 15. Of those 15 only 9 books were new reads in 2013. Beauty and the Billionaire was one of those 5 stars. It was AMAZING. Tortured, scarred, virgin hero (yes, hero). Sexy, fun, feisty heroine who isn’t afraid of him or his scars. Hot sex, REALLY hot foreplay, and an amazing romance which satisfied me on all levels. I was in love!

Book 3. Oh, The Wrong Billionaire’s Bed, how I wanted to love you. I had high expectations because of my love for book 2. Ms. Clare was an author who had proven herself to me with 2 strong previous books, one of which was a favorite of the year. I was excited! I couldn’t wait to read it! I should have waited. Blech. I can’t rehash all I disliked about this book right now. It’s still too painful and would take waaaay too long. Lucky for you, I previously reviewed it. (Spoiler alert: REALLY didn’t like it).

Now here we are at book 4, Once Upon a Billionaire. I must admit to being worried about starting this book. Of the 3 previous books in this series, one was good, one was OMG amazing and one was OMG light it on fire and watch it burn. Which was this book going to be?

Good news: I didn’t want to light it on fire. Bad news: It was a VERY close call.

This book opens when Gretchen, the heroine in book 2 whom I ADORED in her book, does something so mean and cruel and bitchy it’s shocking. And she does it all thinking it’s FUNNY. We had previously met Maylee in book 2 in Hunter’s office. He’s hired her as his assistant, and she’s a total country mouse here in NYC. She uses post-its all over the office to try and keep things straight and uses all sorts of “country” colloquilisms. According to Hunter and Gretchen, Maylee is totally incompetent, but sweet as can be and Hunter is too soft-hearted to fire her.

So what does Gretchen do? Send Maylee, WITHOUT ANY WARNING, to get on a plane to go overseas with Hunter’s friend Griffin. Gretchen doesn’t tell Maylee she’s on her way to the royal wedding of the century. Gretchen basically sets Maylee up to fail as spectacularly as possible so that Maylee will embarrass Griff in front of his snooty royal family. And Gretchen thinks this is HYSTERICAL. Hunter doesn’t stop her. We get the impression he thinks it’s kind of cute what she’s doing. At NO POINT does anyone acknowledge how crushing emotionally this would be for Maylee. To be humiliated in front of ROYALTY, which includes Griff’s family, and most likely the press and all because Gretchen thought she was being funny and getting Griff back for being mean to her. Gretchen is a woman whom Maylee thinks is looking out for her. Maylee thinks Gretchen is HELPING her by getting her a temp job which pays really well so Maylee can send more money back home and help her family out, when really Gretchen is being a total [bleep] who is neither cute nor entertaining. And she sure isn’t anyone I’d want in MY corner. Later when Griff legitimately calls Hunter for advice, Gretchen hijacks the conversation, blows Griff off and jumps Hunter while Griff is still talking to him and then hangs up on Griff. Nice. With friends like these…

I was so angry at this point I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to continue the book. I finally decided to go ahead. How bad could it be, right? It HAS to get better, doesn’t it?

Who knew I was still this gullible?

No, it didn’t get better, In fact, it got worse. Griff proceeds to spend the entire book humiliating Maylee. He yells at her in front of others, scolds and corrects her constantly, physically drags her out of rooms and away from people by the arm like she’s a child having a tantrum, makes fun of her speech, belittles her skills, doesn’t care AT ALL that she’s handing out lots of her own cash to tip staff because he never carries any money, and is basically an all-around douchecanoe. He doest see she’s been doing her job spectacularly well, and everyone who has interacted with them has LOVED him, because that’s the way she played it. But when she is friendly to the driver, Griff has him replaced. God forbid anyone actually smile in his presence.

But his behavior is okay, because he realizes he loves her, and proves it by writing it on his palm like he’s in Junior High. Oh, and after she leaves him (temporarily, unfortunately) he shows up in full royal regalia, complete with medals and ribbons and ceremonial whosiewhatsits at her momma’s rusted out trailer in the backwoods.

Yeah, because that’s what you should do to make sure the family of the woman you “love” approve of you…show up rubbing their noses in how much money and power you have. Ugh.

He then whisks her off to his townhouse where she agrees to continue working for him, even though he has a full-time assistant he’s happy with and has had for years. But she agrees to let him pay her until she can trust him not to break her heart. I wanted to tell her to take the money and RUN. He has ZERO respect for her, why would she think it would get better?

Want to know how long she lasts? DAYS. Seriously. She decides after a few days and a surprise proposal that OMG SHE TRUSTS HIM! HE’S THE BEST GUY EVER! He proposes with this ring which is part of a set she wore earlier in the book.

It wasn’t the most elegant or dainty of rings. Like the rest of the Verdi Emeralds, it was very old, square cut, and surrounded by tiny diamonds. It was a hideous beast of a ring.

The rock on her finger was weighing her entire hand down, and it was a rather ugly cuss of a ring, but it meant that she belonged to Griffin and so she loved it.

Why bother buying a new ring which fits your “beloved” when you can give her an “ugly cuss of a ring”? Also, he manages to get through an entire “romantic” proposal without once saying he loves her. According to him, he knows how much she worries she’s not good enough for him, so he tells her how he “values” her. He thinks she’s the “most beautiful, most worthy woman” he’s ever met and he’s never considered offering anyone this ring until her. Oh, and he’s “rather proud of [his] woman.”

Wow. There’s a proposal worthy of a fairy tale. Who wouldn’t be swept off their feet by that? Personally I’d like to sweep his head off his shoulders with a good baseball bat, but that’s just me.

I wish I could say I’m breaking up with this author. Really. I do. Unfortunately, there’s one more book in this series, and I’m just masochistic enough to want to finish the series to see if it gets any better. I’m inclined to think not, as it looks like the next book is all about the heroine forgiving her father and the guy who left her. Because EVERYTHING should be forgiven, right?

No.

Let’s meet back here after book 5 comes out and see if I’m right. And see if I’m still cranky.

Lynda the Guppy
aka Guppy Who Dislikes Frog Princes
aka The Fish With Sticks

Rating: 2 Stars. I guess. 

The Wrong Billionaire’s Bed, Jessica Clare

Warning: Major Spoilers and Cranky Ranting ahead.

Oh, dear. I wanted to like this book. Really. I did. I’ve been reading the Billionaire Boys’ Club series and enjoying them. In fact, Book 2, Beauty & The Billionaire, is one of the best books I’ve read all year. One of only a handful of 5-star books for 2013. But this one. *sigh* I don’t even know where to begin.

Here’s the premise. Our Heroine, Audrey, is the personal assistant to one of The Billionaires, Logan. She’s also been friends with another Billionaire, Cade, since grade school. And she’s been in love with him all that time. So she and her druggie, alcoholic, rock star sister go to Cade’s cabin in the woods so Daphne (the twin. Did I mention they’re twins? Not identical, thankfully) can dry out. That’s right. Instead of taking her to get her professional help, Daphne talks Audrey into going it alone. In the woods. With no medical training and no medical help anywhere around.

So they get to the Magical Cabin of Instant Rehab only to find ANOTHER Billionaire, Reese, in a hot tub with a woman. Because of DRAMA, Audrey manages to make Barbie (not her name) leave, screaming, wet, half-naked, and with Reese’s suitcase and cell phone in the only car they brought.

And then to round out our Party of Fun Times with Druggies, CADE shows up. Yup. The one Audrey has been in love with since grade school. Oh, and just to make sure we didn’t have ENOUGH going on at The Magical Cabin of Instant Rehab, Cade’s in love with Daphne.

So. To recap. Reese is a playboy who just had his new Barbie Doll ran off by Audrey who is in love with Cade who is in love with Daphne who is a drug addict alcoholic rock star.

And that was just Chapter One.

Oh, how I wish that was a joke.

My biggest issue with this entire book is there is way too much game playing. Reese figures out pretty quick that Audrey is in love with Cade, and not long after figures Cade’s in love with Daphne. Instead of treating Audrey like a person, he “teases” her in front of Cade and makes her uncomfortable again and again. Even though he knows she thinks she’s in love, he gets her to kiss him and to go skinny dipping with him. If he cared for her AT ALL, he wouldn’t do this to her. Through the entire book he acts like those tween boys who hit the girls they like instead of talking to them.

Audrey is no better. She actually takes love advice from Daphne The Detoxer, even AFTER Daphne admits the next day she has no memory of giving any advice. We keep hearing again and again about how WONDERFUL Cade is and how GIVING he is and how CAPABLE and SUPPORTIVE he is, and really, he sounds like a total sap. But even knowing all this, and knowing she believes she’s in love, and WANTS TO USE THIS TIME TO FURTHER HER RELATIONSHIP WITH CADE, Audrey still makes out with Reese, has sex with Reese, and even gets Daphne the Detoxer and Cade the Capable out of the house for the day so she and Reese can fuck all over the place. But really. She’s in love with Cade.

Here’s another gripe. Audrey the Amazing wants to use The Magical Cabin of Rehab as a way to get closer to Cade the Capable, WHILE HER TWIN SISTER IS COMING OFF OF MAJOR DRUGS. Now, I have no idea about the author Ms. Clare’s history or what research she may or may not have done, but I’ve lived with a drug addict. I’ve gone through the detoxes and the rehabs and the empty promises, and while Ms. Clare made an attempt to portray detoxing as unpleasant, she didn’t even come close. Also, someone who is dealing with a sister, a TWIN, whom she’s supposedly so close to, trying to detox and get clean after years of addiction wouldn’t even be considering using that time and place as a romantic getaway. Because nothing says Sexy Times like cleaning up vomit and other bodily fluids while trying to keep the addict fed, clothed, and away from anything sharp.

The Big Misunderstanding happens, and Daphne the Detoxer has a hand in it. Reese leaves thinking Audrey’s been using him as a replacement for Cade Her One True Love (hellooooooo?! Not really news), Audrey the Amazing gets pissed and snaps at her sister a little bit. Daphne then jumps into bed with Cade in order to get the Xanax he’s been giving her (Don’t ask. Seriously. Don’t. I’ll just get pissed again) and OD’s. Audrey and Cade get her rushed to the hospital where she’s put into ICU.

And AGAIN, we have a something which takes me immediately and completely out of the story. The family of a celebrity who has been rushed into a hospital because of an overdose would NOT be sharing a waiting room WITH THE PRESS. Would. Not. Happen. Especially with Billionaire Cade the Capable with them. If the hospital didn’t do it, CADE would have. They’d put the family somewhere else, in another waiting room, an office, hell, they’d even stick them in an empty room if they had to! No WAY would they let the family sit there with photographers and other Paparazzo IN THE ROOM. For that matter, the Papparazzo wouldn’t be allowed IN the hospital in the first place. The hospital would have a room set up just for them.

Reese finally hears about all this a few days after it has happened. He’s finally admitting (to himself only so far) that he might have feelings for Audrey. Problem is he’s at Man Night with his Secret Society Billionaire Buddies and he’s drunk. He knows she needs him, though. He knows he’s the only one who can push her until she lets everything out. He knows she’s having a hard time and needs his support now more than ever, but does he decide to wait until he’s sober before he goes rushing to his love’s side? Sort of. He decides to wait a few DAYS and go to her at a WORK cocktail party. Because that’s what she needs. To have a total breakdown at a function she’s WORKING where there’s tons and tons of wealthy, influential people, INCLUDING HER BOSS. Oh, and there’s some financial drama regarding Reese and his company which has been going on, but really I don’t care at this point.

He goes to the party and finds her. She breaks down. Some bimbettes find him. She runs. He catches her. They decide to have a committed relationship, even though his longest relationship to date was probably something like a week. They have sex in a closet and he proposes. SHE ACCEPTS. Oh, and the sex? Unprotected because he wasn’t going there to “score” and she’s “feeling the need to gamble.” Direct quote. No lie.

*sigh* They’ve really known each other for only a few days. They’ve had not one single serious conversation about ANYTHING. They have no idea what their goals are. They don’t even know if they’re dog people or cat people, much less how they feel about kids! I don’t mind an author not showing us everything, but this was just waaaay too fast.

Now we come to the worst part for me. The Epilogue. Three Months later.

It has been three months since the proposal, and they are on a private jet on their way to Hawaii (I think. At this point I was skimming. Someplace he can get her in a bikini) to get married. Her sister is still in Rehab, but in an ACTUAL rehab this time, not The Magical Cabin of Instant Rehab. And get this. Audrey’s pregnant! Yay, right? Except she’s totally stressed and panicking because she hasn’t told Reese. Why not? Because SHE’S AFRAID HE’LL LEAVE HER.

Seriously?! SERIOUSLY?!?!?!

She’s MARRYING the guy and she doesn’t want to tell him she’s pregnant because SHE THINKS HE MIGHT DUMP HER?!?! THEY HAVEN’T HAD THIS CONVERSATION YET?!?! She tearfully tells him and of course he’s The Hero so he’s all happy, but come on. If she’s STILL having these fears and worries, the LAST thing she should be doing is marrying the guy. I’d suggest counseling. A lot of it. For both of them.

Have you made it this far? If you have, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version. There’s no depth to this story. I never got the sense Audrey and Reese ever really got to know each other enough to LIKE each other, much less fell in love. And as a side note Cade seems WAY too nice for someone like Daphne. They all play way too many games and no one ever really has a serious discussion with anyone about anything important. If Ms. Clare had shown us even a little bit of that kind of thing, if we ever got the sense Audrey and Reese connected on anything other than the most superficial level, I’d feel more satisfied at the ending. Even if all the Discussions of Great Importance happened between the end of the last chapter and the beginning of the epilogue, I’d be okay with it, but knowing during the epilogue how Audrey feels about telling Reese she’s pregnant? Yeah, those discussions have never happened. I have no faith they have any idea what they’re getting into with marriage, much less be able to make that marriage work for longer than it will take for their tans to fade.

Too bad, too, because I really did love the last one. Maybe I’m an optimist, but I’m still looking forward to the next one.

Lynda the Guppy
aka Disappointed Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks