Once again I bought a book without reading the sample because it had a black woman as the heroine. I looked at the cover – which I really liked the playful, happy vibe it gave off – saw that it was a BWWM romance, read the blurb and saw that it was a Presents-ish man-looking-for-revenge story and chucked that ish right in my cart. I hope Entangled and whoever else hears me on this: If you put these books out there, I will buy them on impulse. I won’t always love them, but I will buy them.
Betting the Billionaire pits an aspiring interior designer named Keisha Jacobs against self-made billionaire Gabe Campos as he attempts to run her family’s furniture business into the ground to exact his revenge on her father. It’s a novella, and the hook is essentially a summary of the plot. Billionaire Gabe has been phoning Keisha for months trying to get them to sell. He finally decides to drive out to give her the hard sell in person when his car breaks down in a blizzard and he has to take refuge with her overnight in her apartment above a mechanic garage. They share some hot kisses that night, but everything screeches to a halt in the morning, when Gabe meets her father and tells him he’s going down for his role in the death of Gabe’s father.
It’s pretty clear where the author was going for initially, and I had liked the setup between the ruthless billionaire and the dutiful daughter who’d developed a sort of love-hate relationship over six months of phone calls. The night of the blizzard and stranded car was loaded with great sexual tension as they played cards and flirted while he kept that secret under his hat. Although the story had great potential, a number of authorial and editorial decisions held the book back for me.
I’m not averse to plots that are kind of over the top. I knew going in that this was a snowbound, close-quarters, revenge story that hinged on a wager. However, purposely going OTT doesn’t mean a book doesn’t need to worry about making sense, and giving me a situation where a cutthroat capitalist agrees to a furniture making contest to settle this dispute makes no friggin sense at all. “You cad! You killed my father and I will crush you for it!” “Very well. Let’s settle this with a contest where you and my daughter each make a piece of furniture and a local family will pick a winner.” “I accept!” It’s like the bearded billionaire version of The Baby-Sitters Club.
Additionally, the prose kept throwing me out of the story. Flynn repeats certain words and names a number of times and it made dialog and narration feel stiff and unnatural. As an example, she repeats the family business’ name, Jacobs Fine Furnishings, 22 times in a 60 page novella. Anytime the characters thought or talked about the store, they thought or said Jacobs Fine Furnishings. Same thing for the mechanic garage, the design firm she had a job offer from, the local diner, and so on. Editing out a bunch of these proper names would have made a big difference in readability and made the narrative more immersive. I don’t like brand names on my fantasy.
And then there’s the sex writing.
“Damn, just look at you.” He cupped her boobs, caressing the underside with his fingers as his thumbs circled the yearning peaks. Leaning forward, he sucked one brown nipple between his lips, his beard raking against her tender flesh and heightening the tension coiling in her core.
She stopped breathing. Heat and damp flooded her folds in reaction to the itch building deep inside her that only Gabe could scratch. Her need to feel him sliding inside her slick core hit hard enough that she tore the fabric tethering her to the wall hook.
Cupped boobs and yearning peaks aside, it’s all very Tab A into Slot B and finding new euphemisms for genitalia and arousal. There’s just one makeout scene and one penetrative sex scene and the sex scene felt rushed and mechanical. The makeout scene showed two people succumbing to curiosity and temptation, but the sex felt like it was there because the author wanted it there. There’s no lead up to it and subsequently there’s no emotional payoff.
In a nutshell, the book felt like the author had a great idea for a meet cute and a conflict but lost control of the story when it came time for a climax and a resolution. Where the first half felt fleshed out and showed emotion, the second half felt like a barely filled in outline. With some revision and editing, this could have been a much better book.
Final Assessment: Starts off ok, then loses its way. I’d try the author again, but this book didn’t work for me. D+