by Alexis Hall
Series: Arden St. Ives #2
Also in this series: How to Bang a Billionaire
Publisher: Forever Yours
Publication Date: December 12, 2017
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Be careful what you wish for . . .
Once upon a time there was a totally ordinary boy who fell for a cold, beautiful prince. Only it's not a fairy tale, it's my life. The prince is a billionaire called Caspian Hart. And we're trying super hard to live happily ever after.
He's everything I want, need, and can't resist: a man who looks like a god and bangs like the devil. Except he's still got his rules and he's still got his secrets . . .
But if there's one thing Caspian's taught me it's that you should never settle for less than you're worth. And I'm worth his trust. I have to show him that I see him. That I'm not afraid of his passion, or his power, or his past. And that I won't settle for less than everything.
Content warnings: View Spoiler »drug use (on-page), smoking (on-page), suicidial ideation (side character), panic attack (on-page), sexual abuse of a child (off-page, as part of backstory), death of a parent (in the past), BDSM (including spanking) « Hide Spoiler
As opposed to the first book, which definitely ended on a HFN note, this one feels like an ode to Caspian’s beloved Star Wars, specifically Empire Strikes Back. Caspian’s frozen in the carbonite of his repressed emotions/lack of self worth, while the mostly unseen emperor cackles in the wings, and Arden (and sidekick) have retreated to a place of safety… actually, this analogy is working a lot better than I thought.
“You could still miss me though.”“I certainly awoke and was aware of your absence.”“If you ever get sick of being a billionaire, you could work for Hallmark.” I mimed titles flying through the air. “I Am Aware of Your Absence. I May Have Mildly Inconvenienced You. My Concern on This Non-Ideal Occasion.”
So, with all that said, there’s a lot that’s really enjoyable about this book. At the end of the first book, one of my main criticisms was that we hadn’t really seen Caspian not be a dick for like, longer than a hot minute. In this book, though, Arden cracks his shell a bit more and we get a lot of the backstory of why Caspian is the way he is. Is he still pretty much a giant dick? Yeah, and frankly if I were Arden’s friend I’d be telling him to nope the f— out, but there are definite moments that made me think he’s worthy of Arden (touching Le Guin nerdery included). Their relationship starts to feel more like an actual relationship and less like… whatever it was prior to the renegotiation at the end of the last book.
As much as the ending initially made me want to incinerate things with the heat of a thousand suns, I think it’s necessary for the relationship to progress. While Arden does come off a generally adorable and clumsy at times, he’s also very young and inexperienced, and basically went from living in a dorm room to living in Caspian’s crazy rich penthouse apartment. He’s a mix of crazy booksmarts (had to pause to look up “callipygian” and then cackle maniacally) and “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up,” but even with his seeming innocence I admired how willing he was to speak up for himself when Caspian was giving him – or himself – short shrift. Considering that the BDSM kicks up a bit in this book, I was very glad that Arden has the almost unbelievable maturity to speak clearly about his needs (everything Caspian) and limits (pretty much none when it comes to Caspian). I can’t say I’m particularly in to BDSM, which is particularly funny considering the amount of almost sadistic enjoyment I got out of watching Arden stick his foot in his mouth and be generally a wreck in social situations.
Overall, very much enjoyable, but honestly I’m glad I only have to wait a few weeks for the next book!