1 out of 4 stars
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They say one man's trash is another man's treasure and that was precisely what became of Aria Longbottom after Dale Carmichael broke their engagement in favour of her fairer and more attractive cousin, Linda Shubeck. Heartbroken, drunk and perhaps on the rebound, Aria finds herself buried beneath multi-billionaire hunk, Justin Kay, and together they reeled in the New Year with a bang. No pun intended.
It was a night neither of the two could remember to forget, even after five long years. A night that marked the coming together of two broken halves finally becoming whole.
Justin Kay and Aria Longbottom belonged to each other with such frightening singularity that it kept the latter from taking another lover and the former from continuing with his alleged philandering ways. There was no going back. The passion they had shared changed them both, in ways they would never be free of.
As fate would have it the two are reunited again. But what was initially supposed to have been a business deal and Aria's attempt at an apology for walking out on Justin the morning after, spirals out of control when he declares that the only way for her to right her wrong was by becoming his bride.
Marrying a Playboy Billionaire is Aria Longbottom's account of doing just that. And I say this in no uncertain terms. Nothing else happens.
H. M. Irwing's narrative did not expand beyond the premise of the story. Her underwhelming themes of deception, love, jealousy and sexuality were quickly relegated to mere shadows of subplots as sex scenes took precedence over the telling of an actual story. I can't see the appeal this book would have even to the most avid of erotic literature fans.
There was no main conflict and resolution. There was no development or character growth. In fact, with every new chapter I felt Aria's character regress to a giddy, starstruck teenager. She was absolutely nothing like the bubbly, career-oriented woman we were led to believe she was, from the synopsis. A synopsis I'd like to add, that was not free of the same clumsy typographical errors that littered the novel. I digress, Aria Longbottom did not possess a single trait worthy of the label strong and independent that had been slapped onto her forehead. I was more than a little appalled that she'd even use the word feminist to describe herself.
Aria had a serious case of tunnel vision when it came to Justin Kay. She drops everything at his beck and call, including but not limited to: work, family, dignity and drawers. She prioritizes satiating his sexual appetite above all else. It doesn't help that we're stuck inside her head 24/7 since the book was written in first person and Aria is the sole narrator. Much of the narrative consists of her fawning over Justin's prowess in bed; the rest spent on her yearning to be in it. For the rare moments when her unhealthy fixation with him isn't the primary focus, H.M Irwing still failed at establishing Aria's character as independent of Justin's.
We see nothing of this supposed "bubbly" Aria either. Rather she's often curt and dismissive with the token few other characters tossed into the story. Their only relevance it would seem, was in propping up Aria and Justin's relationship onto a pedestal it had no business being on in the first place. Their engagement came out of nowhere. According to Aria and contrary to what's stated in the synopsis they weren't even friends.
That they were suddenly planning a life together should've raised many eyebrows amongst their family members. And yet it didn't. That citation brings me to another issue I had with Aria's character and the story itself. It was her contradictory behaviour and the plot inconsistencies, respectively.But despite that, Justin and I were barely acquainted. ―pg 27
His eyes swept the office and settled on me. As always, he, more than anyone, made me glad I was pudgy and unappealing enough not to rouse his attentions, for even with my unattractively plump form, I still had a hard time of it trying to dislodge his unwanted attentions.
His eyes narrowed interestedly on my heaving bosom, making me deliberately catch my breath. I’d rather stop breathing than have him ogle at me. ― pg 23
She complains about her perverted superiors at work but when there's a meeting she makes a ritual out of titivating and unbuttoning the top buttons of her blouse before entering the boardroom.
Moment of glory she dubbed it. Ironic isn't it? That she'd even go as far as to refer to a colleague as Ogling Orlando when she was the one who gave him (and every other male personnel) something to ogle at to begin with.
I plunged right into work and stayed most of the morning immersed until the alert came on screen to remind me of a blasted management meeting. I hated those more than anything. They were about campaigning for support and favors more than anything else, and I was the least politically inclined.
I stopped by the ladies’ room on my way to spruce myself up for the upcoming battle of wits and cunning. I had little of either, so I deliberately left a button undone and made do with my tits stealing the show.
It sure sent the scrawny gals tottering on heels, hightailing it out of the way, and I managed to secure the avid attention of every male management in attendance. Still, blasted Justin Kay remained top in my thoughts, nipping away at my moment of glory. ― pg 35
I realised she was not alone. Dad had come with her and my little brother, Tom, and older sister, Janet, too. The whole damn family was here....
...I moved to embrace both Tom and Janet together. Tom was still at university, but he already had the build that showed he would be taking after Dad. Janet, while being of my height, was disappointingly thin. ― pg 30
As it relates to inconsistencies in the narrative, there were quite a few but the one that stood out the most was perhaps Aria's older sister Janet, who by page 108 was suddenly her younger, gay sibling who was still in college.
“Also you are still young. Give it some time,” I muttered shortly.
My little sister was still in college. Who knows what the future held for her? Anything would surely be better than gunning for Justin’s ex. ― pg 108, Aria to Janet
By this point it was as if H. M Irwing had completely given up on the story and was just writing to build word count. Her writing wasn't the best to begin with but it I found that as I delved further into the book, it got progressively worse. There were too many run-on sentences, abused metaphors, over use of adjectives and god-awful time leaps/transitions between scenes. In one sentence she could be talking about the present, and then in the one after it's suddenly three days later. It was sloppy, terribly paced and poorly structured.
Some run-on sentences actually felt left me winded, in my mind! Take this one for example:
H. M Irwing has said a lot of nonsensical things in this book but this case of abused metaphor takes the cake:
"I stepped out into the crisp and clear morning air, pausing only to take in a deep, appreciative breath and admire the Sydney harbour views, letting my eyes rest on the peaceful, deep blue waters of the bay before I turned to face the tall-skyscraper-lined road, still jammed pack with morning traffic, in search for the elusive taxi."
Arguably there's nothing wrong with her rodeo reference. I'm aware that it's very common in these sort of erotic literature, but even fiction has its limits. Bucking and swivelling, to the vast sexual knowledge of the friend I showed the paragraph to, is not possible in such a scenario.
"Rising on top of him, I matched his wolfish grin with one of my own and proceeded to buck and swivel, riding him like an experienced bull rider at your average rodeo. Grinding my hips against his bucking hips, I rose and fell, riding him hard."
We've all heard the saying that adjectives are the devil and well, H.M Irwing has proved it with her over usage. There were numerous cringe-worthy description because of this.
Innocuous innocence is also redundant.
“You don’t mind if I work out while we discuss this, do you?” Justin whispered softly, the innocuous innocence of his wide, blue eyes screaming pure danger as he drew forward, leaning in to invade my personal space.
I had a plethora of issues with not just the plot, writing and Aria's character but also the hero, Justin Kay. Despite the very colourful descriptions employed to describe him, he came off as bland and completely undeserving of the many praises credited to his name. For one, he was an insatiable creep who, on numerous occasions have had sex with Aria in her sleep. For another, his reputation as a billionaire playboy held about as much water as Aria's reasoning that she was only in love with Dale to ignore her chemistry with Justin. In other words, it was total hogwash. Not once did I ever fall under the impression that Justin Kay was a playboy or had wealth in abundance. Chalk it down to the author's inability to describe anything besides sex.
H. M Irwing has a knack for "telling" things completely different from how she "shows" them. To be frank, even the telling aspect of the story was desultory. She skirts around the issues that matter and opts out of writing crucial scenes unless its somehow involves Justin burying himself between Aria's legs.
I was so sorely disappointed by the decorative roles that were forced unto the gay characters near the conclusion of the story. Their sexuality seemed to have only mattered for the sake of adding drama. It felt like one last, desperate attempt at kick-starting the long dead engine, that was the plot. Or lack thereof.
With how poorly edited and uneventful this book was, a single star rating is too generous. But as I'd initially enjoyed Aria's humour and where I thought this story was headed I give this book a 1 out of 4 stars rating.
Marrying a Playboy Billionaire
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