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“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”  ― Winston Churchill

Break (Billionaire New Adult Romance)

Break (Billionaire New Adult Romance) - Vanessa Waltz, Vanessa Waltz

Yet another book by which I am puzzled by all the five star raves.

I found the book to be poorly written. The awkward word choices and syntax threw me out of the story repeatedly. The hero is rather unlikeable, the emotions are told instead of shown, and the end result is tedious. There are plenty of decently written books out there. This is not one of them.

TRIGGER WARNING: The heroine was raped and abused by her foster brother starting at age 10. She has at least one flashback to the attack. And the hero's magic touch heals her. "With every kiss, I was being healed. It was as though Luke was reaching inside my core and mending my pieces back together."

Jessica is a recent college graduate who want to be an "editor" with little to no demonstrated understanding of what that means. Understandably, no one wants to hire her to be one, and Jessica is broke, broke, broke. Jessica is also far too good to take any other kind of work: "I needed a job. I had no desire to return to retail." Oh noes, not retail! She also turns up her nose at applying at Chili's or other restaurants, even though the only thing we see her actively engaged in is cooking and planning meals for a homeless soup kitchen. She does zero writing or even reading, despite whining about wanting an editing job. So srsly, working with food seems perfect for her.

Jessica is also too good for San Francisco's mass transit system ("The seat cushions were old and stained, and if you didn’t have a seat, then people with varying degrees of hygiene crammed against you. I sat down as if the BART seat was a pincushion and recoiled as someone next to me coughed") even though I used to ride BART regularly and it's pretty decent.

So of course, what is a starving college grad who is above working in retail or food service to do? (Aside from stealing, which she does from her former college's library?) Sign up on an escort service website, natch!

And who immediately clicks on Jessica's profile and wants to hire her? A gorgeous twenty-something billionaire. But of course!

Luke pays Jessica to pretend to be his girlfriend so his cantankerous dying father will think Luke is settling down and thus worthy of inheriting five billion dollars. Which is the trope that launched a million Harlequin titles, but here it falls flat. Part of the problem is that there is little chemistry between the characters. We're told Luke is a hot alpha male, but his actions and words resemble a petulant little boy, especially when it comes to his father. The author doesn't give him his own voice, and he and Jessica sound alike - to the point where Luke even exclaims, "Oh my God, we have to see it" like a good Valley Girl. And when his father tells Luke he has to dump Jessica or be cut out of the will: Luke DOES IT. And he only comes back to her after his father dies - and then he whines about receiving only $500,000, even though he had plenty of his own money. Luke is a major douche.

The romance that follows is poorly developed, and even worse written. Although an editor is credited on the book, the author might want to ask for her money back.

"I discretely wiped my eyes as Luke sat down in front of me."

Yeah, that's the wrong homophone. You want discreetly.

"Natalie opened her mouth but I changed tact with lightning speed."

Tack, not tact. It's a sailing term. To change tack is to change your position relative to the wind.

Under my jeans I felt the bulge of his erection, livid against my thigh.

I do not think livid means what you think it means. Also, I don't think you mean "under my jeans," which denotes that somehow the erection was, well, under her jeans - which would be a rather tight fit. Try "though my jeans" next time.

He groaned and leaned forward, his lips plucking my breast and his fingers scraping my shoulders, the thin bra straps drooping down my arms.

Plucking? A) ouch and B) either her breast has feathers or his lips are plucking her breast off her chest. So, eww in addition to ouch. Also? Drooping is generally not a word you want to put into readers' heads while describing sexytimes.

The author also has an annoying habit of using contractions that don't exist: "C'min" for "come in" and "I'ssa" for "it's a." And then there are her problems with time. The book begins just prior to Thanksgiving and ends two weeks before Christmas. So...maybe four weeks, top, being generous. Yet somehow Jessica and Luke talk about being together "for months," and when they are separated at one point, it's for "weeks." Maybe Jessica is Canadian and we don't know it, which would put Thanksgiving in October, but the time passage still doesn't fit. Meanwhile, Luke has a magic private jet (which somehow requires a plane ticket...the author didn't do her research about how private jet travel works) that can go from San Francisco to London in just over the space of eating dinner. Man, I wish I had that jet when I was traveling on a regular basis between the West Coast and Heathrow. Not even the now retired Concorde flew that fast.

I could go on, and on, and on, but I'm already depressed about the general state of literacy in the United States.

Suffice to say this book is an easy pass.