The Millionaire’s Ultimate Catch rode the DNF line all the way to the finish. Every time I decided this was it and I could read no further Michelle Monkou tossed another curve ball at me. We made it to the end but it was an ugly win. Wow. I mean, WOW. On a list of WTF JUST HAPPENED moments I’m not even sure where to start. Spoiler Alert! I’m going to reveal all kinds of things as we come not to praise The Millionaire’s Ultimate Catch but to bury it at a crossroads with a stake in it’s heart.
Naomi opens strong as a professional athlete. A women’s basketball star, she’s just finished an away game when she stops to spend time with a fan in a wheelchair. Because of course. Heading alone across the dark abandoned parking lot (as pro basketball stars do) she hears a struggle. Fast forward to Naomi in the hospital and the Keathley family standing by her bed. Naomi is quickly handed off to these complete strangers as her team pulls out for the next game, never to be heard from again. During Naomi’s entire recovery she will have one phone call with her sorority sisters, one call (and visit) from her grandparent and one call to her coach. Otherwise Naomi will be completely consumed by the Keathley family because she isn’t a person, she’s a heroine.
Zack Keathley is a complete tool. He’s emotionally distant, controlling, narcissistic and childlike in his reasoning. Adopted from Haiti as a five year old he punishes his parents for giving him a life of wealth, love and opportunity by continually rejecting them. This is presented as pride and a desire to pay them back by being a self made man. I suppose one could see continually shutting them out, dismissing them and being argumentative as paying them back if they were presented as a dysfunctional family, but they are presented as loving and supportive. Zack has no problem demanding his mother board Naomi and her family but he has a mantrum whenever his mother wants him to be civil to his father. Naomi would have done better at a hotel.
The Keathley family puts her upstairs (just as well since this professional athlete does no rehab, exercise or conditioning) then plans a giant party. Naomi is rendered incapable first by her injuries and then by author choice as she falls into the beautiful-girl-who-can’t-exploit-it mold and requires Zack’s college age sister to apply her cosmetics. Somehow this (say it with me) famous pro athlete has never had any image consulting done. Now that she’s pretty, Naomi decides to experiment with lingerie modeling. She calls her coach and tells her she’s exploring side gigs. The coach wishes Naomi would keep her clothes on but Naomi’s grandmother is all for it so Naomi is now a model. She never quits the team yet begins describing herself as an ex-basketball player. (Contracts? Managers? Agents? Bueller?)
So Naomi the model is involved with Zack the real estate tycoon because he’s the hero and therefore they screw. Really, I don’t know why else they are together. He says she’s hot, she says she doesn’t care. They throw a random party guest out of the family party because the way he’s looking at Zack’s sister creeps them out and then they go off together. At one point Zack tells Naomi he’s had his family pack her an overnight bag so she can sleep at his apartment. (They are not even dating. She did not ask to stay there. SHE IS BEING TRANSPORTED LIKE LUGGAGE!) Naomi decides not to light candles on the dinner table. She doesn’t want to create a romantic atmosphere and send mixed signals. Zack says if she’s going to get all bent he could return her to his mother. Naomi actually says no, she will stay because he wants her to leave and she is her own boss. HEAD+DESK.
Naomi goes to take a shower, marveling at the five different shower heads that connect with her body in all quadrants. Turning on the water she finds a naked Zack waiting to join her. She screams and beats him to death with a towel bar. JUST KIDDING! She opens the door so he can eat her out. No, really, she does. I’m not sure how he kept from drowning, given five shower heads going full blast at different angles and the difficulty of… you know what? I’m going to stop there. Listen, he’s a better man than I or he can retract his nostrils at will. ANYWAY. (Good thing she didn’t light those candles. Who knows what would’ve happened?)
Zack is full of man pain because the contract he didn’t fully read has put his multi million dollar deal in jeopardy from some shady money men who are now his partners. He’s a BIG BOY but his business is being harmed. He eventually asks his father for help, which amounts to his father inviting the shady money men into HIS construction business to lure them away. Zack is all cool, now it’s good. (Because he’s a sociopath.) Naomi has left Zack like five or six times at this point. Although both of them have phones they never call each other. Naomi has a career and a life yet she exists in this weird bubble that keeps her immobile until she is reacting to an action by Zack.
Zack tracks down his birth mother in Haiti through a miracle phone call from Brent, the lingerie model contract providing casual friend. Brent is going on about how his wife was killed and Zack is sort of thinking “Hey, I never ask you anything about yourself or care about feelings other than my own, but BACK TO ME NOW” and he’s off to Haiti. First he tells Naomi (again) to STFU and MYOB so Naomi gets really, really hurt and mad. She calls Brent (who loaned Zack a private plane because waiting hurts Zack’s feelings) so she can surprise Zack with airplane sex. That’ll fix everything!
In Haiti Zack gets super mad looking at the fairly comfortable orphanage. It’s freshly painted and most of it’s students go on to finish school and do well in life so obviously Zack’s mom didn’t love him. Zack wants to confront her but the orphanage has arranged a meeting point so she can choose what she wants to do. Zack isn’t really keen on women having their own feelings. His mom decides to show up and Zack is all “Wait, I’mma let you finish, but first….”. No, HE DOES. He stops his long lost mother from explaining her choices so he can propose to Naomi and they can hear his birth story as an engaged couple instead of as just some random couple. Naomi and his birth mom cry with joy and Zach gets his smug on. Then the book ends. WTF I CANNOT EVEN IT IS SO ODD.
I blame the disabled kid. Naomi was one Make-A-Wish moment away from freedom but now she’s Mrs. Zack Keathley until the night he tells her he loves her so much that she’s got to get out by nightfall for his new woman. She’s just too good for a damaged man like him. D+
Final Assessment: Character motivations whip around like a weathervane in a tornado. D+
Source: Library copy