Rating: 2.75 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel


Monroe is a town in two parts: There’s the college town, and then the private, close-knit, and very wealthy collection of families who are connected through marriages and children and their special powers. Aspen is one of those privileged men, and he fell in love with the chauffeur’s son, Billy. Little did Aspen know that every time he and Billy were together, Mallory was watching, hand down his pants, from the shadows. He didn’t learn the truth until Mallory’s first book came out … in which his main character, a whore, was strongly based on Aspen, and whose put-upon lover was so clearly Billy. Billy’s mother schemed to end their relationship and Aspen has been alone ever since.

ClairMont Bowman has unexpectedly come home to live with his father and, while getting a coffee, he meets and falls in love with Aspen, the man he is meant to marry. While getting to know one another, Clair admits he’s read Mallory’s books and loved them, though he didn’t know at the time they were about Aspen.

Conveniently, Mallory is also returning to Monroe, just in time for Clair to plan his revenge.

This is a muddle of a book and, to be quite honest, I didn’t enjoy it. The book opens with Mallory once again playing voyeur, watching Aspen and Billy fuck. Then, we’re introduced to Aspen’s twin, a few women, and a few other men, as this collection of very wealthy young people end the night with a fistfight and a soothing of ruffled feathers. It’s written presumably to show to that Mallory is an outsider, not really part of the group for all that they let him associate with them, but it’s a chaotic start that left me with no clear idea of who Mallory is as a character — beyond horny. Then, he’s gone from the book until

Spoiler title
the ending chapter
. It’s an odd framing choice, and not one I think really worked.

The second chapter takes place some time later with Clair, now living with his father (though I’m confused exactly why). He’s aware that he isn’t as bright as most people, that his father uses words that are too formal and high-falootin’ for him to understand, and feels constantly on his back foot. Then, Clair meets Aspen and learns that he has telepathy (as does Aspen). Clair is unbothered by this. When he learns it’s just part of belonging to a super-special bloodline, he shrugs it off and just continues on with his life. He doesn’t actually seem to care about anything other than Aspen, because Aspen is hot.

Aspen, the other point of view character, has a slightly stronger character. He’s slightly upset about the fact that every time he fucked Billy was written — beat for beat — into a very popular romance book that paints him as a whore. And he’s somewhat put out that Billy dropped him when given the chance to inherit money if he’d only marry a girl. And he thinks Clair is hot, which is good, because who wants to be bonded to an ugly mate?

Monroe, the town, has special powers. It somehow links various members of the original five bloodlines together with a fated-mates sort of bond. Not everyone who is mated together is in love, which is a nice distinction, and it’s fortunate that Aspen and Clair do in fact love each other … at first sight. Monroe also gives its pureblood sons and daughters special powers (at least two of them) with telepathy and the ability to see naked people. Somehow, not explained, these people can see through clothing. Unless a person is wearing black or white — which aren’t colors — they can see the body beneath the clothes in detail. So, do they see naked people everywhere, when they’re wandering through town? Or does their magic only allow them to see the other pureblood people? Are they limited to clothing? Can they see through walls if the paint is a non black or white color? It’s not just that it’s confusing, but there was never a time it was used or felt relevant to the plot.

I enjoy when a well-crafted book tosses me in the deep end, but with this book, I feel like I was tossed into a hole and was left waiting for the water to be added. The paranormal elements might have worked if they’d been expressed in a way that made it feel as though they mattered. If these pureblood sons and daughters of Monroe live extended lifespans of 200 years or so, why do they have to bond with their fated one before they’re 25 or die? It’s implied that only children born within the town of Monroe get magic powers and children who are born in other towns simply … don’t, but why? There is almost no world building in this book, just a few powers and some confusing family relationships, but I’m just left feeling as though a lot of the threads that tie the story together simply aren’t there.

Every character felt like they had the same voice, the same personality, and the same way of talking. If it weren’t for the fact that chapters are named based on the point of view character, I don’t think I would have been able to tell who was supposed to be doing the telling — and it’s a lot of telling. For example, Aspen compares Clair to Billy, which is natural — the new boyfriend to the ex — but having seen nothing of Billy as a person, who he was or wasn’t to Aspen, it makes those scenes feel hollow.

For me, that’s pretty much the book. It felt hollow. There were characters, a town, powers, and complex relationships between who was a brother, cousin, friend, or uncle — and how everyone was tied to everyone else — but it just didn’t gel. I’m left unsatisfied and uninterested in continuing the series.