Published by Hachette, Forever Yours on 4/16/17
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Rules are made to be broken . . .
If England had yearbooks, I'd probably be "Arden St. Ives: Man Least Likely to Set the World on Fire." So far, I haven't. I've no idea what I'm doing at Oxford, no idea what I'm going to do next and, until a week ago, I had no idea who Caspian Hart was. Turns out, he's brilliant, beautiful . . . oh yeah, and a billionaire.
It's impossible not to be captivated by someone like that. But Caspian Hart makes his own rules. And he has a lot of them. About when I can be with him. What I can do with him. And when he'll be through with me.
I'm good at doing what I'm told in the bedroom. The rest of the time, not so much. And now that Caspian's shown me glimpses of the man behind the billionaire I know it's him I want. Not his wealth, not his status. Him. Except that might be the one thing he doesn't have the power to give me.
“Everything was worth it for the power to give Caspian Hart just a little bit of joy.”
I have mixed feelings about How to Bang a Billionaire. Well, not about the title—that I love. I find the novel is a mixture of effervescence, sadness, and frustration. Alexis Hall played with my mood throughout this experience, and I’m not sure I appreciate that.
How to Bang a Billionaire (still love the title! :)) follows Arden, a twenty-year-old Oxford graduate and Caspian, the billionaire. With more than a few (though not as much as 50) shades of Fifty, with Ana a more delightful, queer boy, HtBaB starts off impossibly charming with a page one meet-cute that pulls the reader in. I swear my mood was air as I read the first few chapters and fell head-over-heels in love because of the author’s witty dialogue as well as the chemistry between Arden and Caspian. That was the beginning.
“It was heroic. The most heroic thing anyone has ever done for me. It made me feel like a princess.”
Then things actually got a little depressing. I know, not what you’d expect from a book with this premise. But, be it a case of talent working against intent—since these tropes aren’t meant to make the reader sad—or, maybe the author meant to shine a more realistic light on what the dynamics of dating an emotionally unavailable person really is. Regardless, the mood of the book shifts once the two have decided on the obligatory terms of their pre-arranged relationship. Arden decides that he doesn’t mind being at billionaire Caspian’s beck-and-call because he doesn’t want a relationship anyway. Of course, he sees hints of softness and humanity in cold Caspian and yearns for more. Of course, Caspian says he can’t give him what he wants. Cut to the scenes when Caspian starts melting and opening up, inevitably giving Arden the relationship he never knew he wanted, right? Not quite.
“He was like a nearly-there Rubik’s Cube—this sealed box, all perfect edges and matched-up colors, except for the occasional hopeless misalignment, a lost orange square and a yellow piece stuck in a corner. Though why I thought this made me the right person for him I have no idea.
I’d never solved one of those fuckers in my entire life.”
When Caspian says he’s closed-off, he really means it. The two protagonists are disconnected for the majority of the book, which I didn’t like, since they seemed so in sync in the beginning. Their chemistry starts out sizzling and then it stalls. Though, that’s not an entirely accurate description. I loved all the scenes with Caspian and Arden. It’s just that there is a wall between the characters for the majority of the book. There are glimpses of potential romance and beauty, just not enough of them. The novel is told entirely from Arden’s POV, and though Arden’s narration is unassumingly introspective, smart, and humorous, as he works through his self-doubt, wants and disappointments, that’s not why I came to this party. I guess it’s a case of my expectations working against me.
“He just held back and held back until his control was nothing but distance.”
I picked up How to Bang a Billionaire hoping for a sexy, hopeful, and simultaneously introspective read à la Glitterland. What I got was, well, what Arden got. A whole lot of mixed signals, and frustration because I’m unsure about how this will end or even how I want this to end. HtBaB did pull me out of my sadness during the last leg of the novel, and I’m feeling pleasantness close to what I experienced in the beginning, but I’m cautious. I’m not sure if this is a duo or trilogy, but I definitely get the feeling that this relationship is going to be a journey.
“And that was…it. I guess that was the thing about goodbyes: they were always smaller than you expected.”
Alexis Hall, once again, has delivered a story that is not quite like anything I’ve experienced before, although based on the premise, the experience should’ve been predictable. I’m neither going to recommend nor dissuade you from reading this, you’ll just have to decide on my jumbled thoughts alone. Know, though, that I’m reading the next one.
When I think of truly talented authors, Alexis Hall tops the list. There’s something about his writing that swallows me up. Its beauty is intricate, delicate, and graceful. His prose is flowery and exquisite in a way that feels natural to him. He doesn’t try too hard to be something he’s not. This book was the epitome of that.
Don’t be fooled for a second by the cliché title, How to Bang a Billionaire. Yes, the love interest in a billionaire, and yes that is an overdone trope. But everything else about this book felt unique and fresh, even when it wasn’t. What I mean by that is that, in the beginning especially, it felt very Fifty Shades to me, but it wasn’t a poor man’s retelling. It was like a reimagining of that story in a wholly different universe. And, not to be ugly, because I love E L James, but Alexis Hall’s writing is superior.
Beyond the surface similarities, though, lies an entirely extraordinary and diverse story. Arden is a sweet, funny, innocent, dazzling character. He’s anything but ordinary, despite his own self-evaluation. Caspian is an intricate conundrum of a man who is mostly cold, stoic, and refined, with the occasional hint of care and warmth deep down. He needs control at all times and Arden is anything but someone who colors inside the lines. The two of them together are magnificent.
As I mentioned, this book is not one you should judge by its title or cover. It was one of the most emotional books I’ve read in some time. I’m not someone who is easily cries when reading and this one had tears sliding down my face on multiple occasions. Sometimes it was from hurt and sadness, and others it was because of the sheer beauty of what I was experiencing. I am so attached to these characters already and I’m so thrilled that we will get more of them. I let out a huge sigh of relief when I saw that this is intended to be trilogy.
Alexis Hall is an artist unlike any other. I can’t think of a single other author to compare him to, which is, in my opinion, one of the highest compliments. He has a way with words that will totally disarm you. Let him.
Oh Lord, I’m about to throw a stink bomb on this love fest: this book absolutely did not work for me. I mean, I really had no idea what to expect from How to Bang a Billionaire, so my disappointment isn’t so much laced with sadness as much as I am just MEH about the whole experience. Glitterland fangirl for life though, babes.
So, about HtBaB. To be honest, I requested this on author name alone. I knew I would get great writing (and I did) but, seriously, was this a parody? A satirical Fifty/Beauty and the Beast sort of mash up? I JUST DID NOT GET IT.
I didn’t like either protagonist. I’m here trying to think of one likable trait about Caspian. . . I got nothing. Arden seemed cute and fun but his self depreciating humor became really tiresome. He was also exceedingly insistent on finding cause for Caspian’s behaviors EVERY SINGLE TIME he was an aloof beast. Can’t a boy just be mad without having to make excuses for his billionaire keeper?? All of Arden’s introspection every time there was conflict never gave me the chance to see if Caspian did have the motives that Arden manifested for him. He just worked it out in his head so when there was “resolution” (dialogue), I skimmed. SKIMMED.
Actually I skimmed a lot of this book – most of the sex scenes and probably the last 40% or so. I think my favorite scene was their meet cute. After that? . . . Actually, I found the whole storyline to be very superficial, riddled with scenes that never propelled the plot or seemed to have any relevance to the story. I suppose those plot lines will be rounded out in books two and three? Let me know how it goes (or don’t), because I wont be reading them.
Sorry, I can’t recommend.