Ben isn’t stupid. He may be naive, sheltered, and a bit of a romantic, but even he knows his father and brother’s latest idea is full of holes and unworkable. Always on the grit, his con man father (and opportunist and bully of a brother) want Ben to infiltrate Montgomery Enterprises and steal company secrets. What secrets exactly doesn’t seem to matter, as long as they’re worth money. And how exactly is Ben supposed to do this? By becoming Miles Montgomery’s personal assistant. Ben wants to say no, but he also doesn’t want to get beaten again, so he does as he’s told. Only, he doesn’t expect to fall for his boss quite so fast.
All it would take is one look, one command, and Ben would go straight to his knees for Miles, and Miles knows it. For Miles, letting a two-bit con man’s son interview for a position was a game. Something fun to do on an otherwise boring afternoon, but something about the blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy makes him want to wrap his arms around him and protect him while, at the same time, pinning him to his desk and fucking the boy until he screams. Miles is used to getting what he wants, and Ben isn’t used to saying no. It’s a match made in heaven.
This is the first book in the Bad Boy Billionaires series and involves an obsessive, possessive, violent boss falling head over heels in love with his assistant. Fortunately, Ben is more than okay with being the object of Miles’ attention. Ben has been raised unable to trust anyone, thanks to his father’s many attempts to gain wealth and power, and his many failures at doing so. Ben’s used to being beaten by both his father and his brother, and wants nothing more than to get away from them, to find a place where he can be safe. He’s also a virgin, and really, really wants Miles to fix that last problem for him.
Ben goes into his new job with no desire to steal anything. In fact, he isn’t going to do what his father and brother want, period. Besides, with Miles giving him a full wardrobe just for showing up on day one, it’s clear money isn’t going to be much of an issue for Ben. And that’s part of my problem with Ben. He acts sad and put upon, but when the book shifts to his POV, his thoughts are all about how he really, really, really wants Miles to fuck him. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it makes his character come off a bit more scheming than I think was the original intent; everyone treats Ben like a victim, but to me he felt like just an opportunist with a healthy sexual appetite.
Miles feels unstable. He’s all intense emotion, supported and protected by immense wealth and power. This is someone who tries to seduce Ben by telling him that “I would have killed him if there hadn’t been so many witnesses.” When Miles presses his advantage (power, position, physical presence, and temper) to fuck Ben over his desk as he’s dreamed of, Ben informs him he’s a virgin, to which Miles says “I’m going to be your first.” There doesn’t feel like Miles has interest in Ben as a person. Ben feels like a goal, an object to possess, a prize to take away from Ben’s father to show him that Miles is so much better than he is.
Miles knows Ben’s secret about the pressure Ben’s family is putting on him and knows he can’t back down and run away, even if he wanted to, and Miles uses this to his advantage. The power dynamics in this book are very much more aligned with those of a dark romance than a traditional workplace boss/employee romance. Miles is possessive, shrieking, and threatening a hair dresser who is shampooing Ben’s hair too enthusiastically. He feels like a predator. An emotionally unstable predator and I cannot count the number of times my eyes rolled at the comic book villain posturing and threats.
When the time comes for Miles and Ben to have their first fight, Ben stands up for himself and does it with confidence and intelligence. However, rather than the reconciliation coming about because either Miles learned a lesson or because he did something to earn Ben’s forgiveness, it’s Miles’ friends who intervene to tell Ben he should get over his problem and forgive Miles. After all, everyone and their cousin — including complete strangers — can see “how they look at each other,” and that they’re “very much together, or at least […] want to be.”
The writing is fine, but the story focuses on Miles fucking Ben or Miles talking to his friends about Ben more than it does anything else, though the plot meanders along well enough in the background. There are a lot of tropes in this book, but in my personal opinion, the characters aren’t developed enough to take them beyond simply being a trope, and the book does nothing new with the ideas. The relationship between the couple is one with a giant power disparity and Marcus has severe issues — going from one emotion to the next like a ping-pong ball, with no control and no stability — while Ben is enthusiastic. All in all, I didn’t enjoy the romance, and am not interested in reading on in this series.