He Ain't No Mr Darcy
Jane Austen comes up a few times in this book, with one character comparing Ayden, the male protagonist, to “like three Jane Austen characters all at once.”
I'm sure that the author probably intended us to picture him as a combination of maybe Mr Darcy, Mr Knightley and Colonel Brandon… but I was rather more brought to mind of Mr Wickham and Mr Willoughby.
In short, Ayden thinks he's hot shit, and everyone around him reinforces this impression by telling him how wonderful he is. Women throw themselves at him - repeatedly, even after being dumped - and despite his assertion that his ‘type' is self-reliant women. Apparently he is a terrible judge of character because all his exes are portrayed as needy and desperate. Ayden has, it seems, been blessed with a Magical Wang which makes all women who are blessed with a sample desperate for more.
Enter Grace, in search of her runaway bride of a sister. Who, it turns out, isn't actually a runaway at all but has conspired with the rest of Grace’s family and friends and half of Ayden’s in order to send her sister on a panicked wild goose-chase, to set her up with a complete stranger known to treat his girlfriends like shit.
I could say a lot more. I could talk about how Ayden is such an asshat he literally thinks about how much he enjoys taking advantage of Grace having to spend time alone with him. Or about how he deliberately tries to sabotage her relationship with her boyfriend (Yes, she has a boyfriend!) just because he can. Or the time he tries to get her drunk assuming they will end up in bed together because that is what always happens when he gets women drunk. (That is called date rape and it is Not Romantic).
But frankly, by the end of this book I'd had quite enough of Ayden and his delusions of irresistibility.
This might have made an intriguing plot for a Regency where women were used to being shuffled around by well-meaning relatives and married off to complete strangers.
As a modern-day romance, I'm afraid I found it horrifying.
I debated over how many stars to award this book and in the end I’ve gone with two. Because no matter how misogynistic and awful I personally found Ayden, I cannot find fault with the author’s quality of writing; her spelling, language, grammar and punctuation are first class.
Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book for review through ReadingAlley.