Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review Tuesday: Golden Shana by A P von K'Ory (#bdsm #billionaire #romance)

Golden Shana cover

Golden Shana: The Chase by A P von K’Ory

AuthorMeProfessionals Press, 2015

With his impeccable style, muscular physique, chiseled features and hypnotic blue eyes, Roman Alastair Northcott Broughton Castell is drop-dead gorgeous. He’s also the billionaire CEO of a worldwide logistics company, built from the ground up through his intelligence and hard work. With charm, guile, expensive gifts and judiciously bestowed carnal pleasure, Roman believes he can conquer any woman, but he’s determined not to commit to anyone. When a female takes his fancy, he pursues her relentlessly. Once she’s fallen into his net, he requires her to sign a contract acknowledging the no-strings nature of their relationship. According to his standard agreement, either one can terminate the connection at any time. Somehow it’s always Roman who grows bored and seeks out a new diversion.

Then one night at the La Scala opera house in Milan, everything changes. As Roman escorts his lovely, curvaceous current lady Marie to a performance of “Turandot”, he catches sight of a honey-haired goddess of a woman who strikes him dumb with desire and need. His charm deserts him; he’s hopelessly befuddled by the stranger’s elegant poise. As she drives away in her limo with her friends, however, he vows he will win her, no matter what the price.

You probably think you know this story, yet another installment in the endless series of billionaire romances that litter the pages of Amazon. If that’s what’s going through your mind, though, you’re wrong. Aside from its classic, overwhelmingly alpha hero, Golden Shana: The Chase is refreshingly original. The relationships are far more tangled than in the typical romance, and the story much less predictable.

Shana, the mysterious stranger, might well be more alpha than Roman. Raped by her boyfriend when she was a teen, she has no interest in sexual relations with men, though she acts the dominant role in her lesbian love affair with close childhood friend Alyssa. She puts Roman in his place, making it clear that she will not necessarily surrender to him just because that is what he demands.

Discarded by Roman as he sets off to pursue Shana, Marie serenely believes that her love for him, plus his baby which she’s carrying, will ultimately bring him back to her.

Meanwhile, the rapist, despite being tortured and left for dead by Shana’s family, has somehow survived. Having constructed a new identity, the Phoenix (as he calls himself) is obsessed with reclaiming His Girl.

The book is set in Europe – Hamburg, Geneva, Montreux, Milan – and the author obviously knows these places well. All the characters are wealthy, so they spend their time in elegant restaurants, exclusive spas, glittering shops and upscale malls, in galleries and at the opera. Nevertheless, this glamorous world struck me as far more believable than the settings in most books in the billionaire genre. For one thing, the rich characters actually work for a living, to maintain and enhance their status. For another, there are gradations of wealth. Roman’s security major domo Robert is rich in his own right, though far less well off than Roman. Meanwhile the resources of Shana’s extended family dwarf Roman’s own, and he feels correspondingly chastened.

As alpha as he is, Roman is no cardboard cutout Dom. He’s self-centered, but generous and mostly honest. He doesn’t promise what he can’t or won’t give. He deeply loves his mother, detests his half-siblings, respects the competent minions with whom he has surrounded himself. He can be cruel, but that’s not his fundamental nature. He is, despite his usual self-confidence, only twenty nine, and sometimes he acts his age.

Unlike most romance, this book really focuses on the male protagonist, not the female. The book might, somewhat facetiously, be titled “The Dom’s Come-uppance”. The author convincingly portrays Roman’s confusion and attempts to adapt when the sudden cataclysm of love at first sight shatters his world and calls all his assumptions into question.

From one chapter to the next, the novel adopts the point of view of various characters, but only Roman’s chapters are presented in the first person. As he struggles to understand and accept his love for Shana, and plots what to do about it, one almost feels sympathy.

Almost. I know every author loves her own characters, but I couldn’t bring myself to really like Roman. He’s just too arrogant and selfish for me. In particular, I fumed at the way he treats Marie after she reveals that she’s pregnant. If I were she, I would have thrown his contracts in his face and gotten a restraining order. I couldn’t believe she’d accede to his demeaning demands.

Likewise, I found Alyssa’s infatuation with the billionaire inexplicable, given the way he manipulates and uses her.

But that’s not a criticism of the novel itself. Despite my frustration with Roman, I continued to read, eager to discover what would happen next. The book has a hopeful ending (from Roman’s perspective) but is by no means HEA. Meanwhile, threats lie in wait (particularly in the person of the Phoenix), threats that Roman will clearly have to confront.

Golden Shana: The Chase is competently written, but it bears the hallmarks of a relatively inexperienced author – an excess of passion, with occasional lapses of craft. It seems that unlike me, A P von K’Ory really does love Roman.

The structure is uneven, with characters disappearing for many chapters, then suddenly popping up again. The first half of the book includes some intensely arousing sex scenes. I realized to my surprise that the second half of the book contains almost no sex at all. I say surprised because I didn’t miss it. I was too involved in the story.

Given my fascination with BDSM relationships, that’s a compliment.

In fact, I’m tempted to get a copy of the second half of the story (Golden Shana: The Capture), just to see how things play out.


K.S.Mulholland said...

A very perceptive review.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Thank you, K.S.!

Betsi Newbury said...

I feel so much better knowing that someone else dislikes Roman as I do! Thanks for a straight-forward review of a book I know well.

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