Ava O’Shea is a young successful interior designer who is sent to consult on a job in the country at an exclusive place called The Manor where she meets the enigmatic owner, Jesse Ward. From the first moment, of course, there is a connection. While Ava tries to keep her poise and professionalism, Jesse obsessively pursues her until she gives in.
I picked up this book because I actually received an ARC of the second book, Beneath This Man, and I have a thing about reading series in order whenever possible. After reading the blurb and knowing full well what kind of book I was getting into, I forged ahead.
Jesse is a controlling, possessive, borderline stalker. I can excuse these behaviors in a book provided that they come with proper character motivations or explanations. I love reading a good alpha, but this is not him. Jesse behaves like a petulant child when Ava ignores him. This is a man supposedly in his mid-thirties who hits redial non-stop because Ava won’t answer his call when she is at work. He basically stalks her wherever she goes and claims it’s for “her protection”. Again, this can be done so the reader can make peace with an unsettling action, but there is no basis or explanation for his reasoning other than he’s afraid she’ll get hurt in the big bad world. Finally, I found it vaguely insulting that Jesse’s age at 35 was considered “old”.
I found Ava even more frustrating because she would, at times, have a spine, ignore his calls and refuse to bend to his will and then throw that all out of the window basically because he was hot. Now, I agree that a pretty face can excuse some sins, but not when a man is dictating your every move and then throws a toddler-like tantrum. The author was trying to paint Jesse as a Dominant but there is nothing kinky about the sex. He’s just simply controlling and it has nothing to do with sex.
Overall, the scenes and descriptions were extremely repetitive and the smexy scenes were uninspiring (if I had to read one more time about lace underwear, I swear...). This book could’ve easily been reduced to a novella, which might have improved the overall enjoyment. Despite all the disappointments, I do admit there was a spark to the book and I am hoping the next book will be more fleshed out with better writing. This book is for the super fans only.