Rules are made to be broken . . .
If England had yearbooks, I'd probably be "Arden St. Ives: Man Least Likely to Set the World on Fire." So far, I haven't. I've no idea what I'm doing at Oxford, no idea what I'm going to do next and, until a week ago, I had no idea who Caspian Hart was. Turns out, he's brilliant, beautiful . . . oh yeah, and a billionaire.
It's impossible not to be captivated by someone like that. But Caspian Hart makes his own rules. And he has a lot of them. About when I can be with him. What I can do with him. And when he'll be through with me.
I'm good at doing what I'm told in the bedroom. The rest of the time, not so much. And now that Caspian's shown me glimpses of the man behind the billionaire I know it's him I want. Not his wealth, not his status. Him. Except that might be the one thing he doesn't have the power to give me.
Welcome to our first triple threat review where all three of our BiblioJunkies have read and are reviewing the same book! We had such a blast doing this and comparing notes, so we hope you enjoy it too!
I’d just come off of reading my first Alexis Hall novel, Glitterland when I picked up HtBaB a few days later. Admittedly I was hoping for more of the same as I was still on this glorious high but I quickly learned that HtBaB is something entirely different. Yet it felt familiar. Like Fifty Shades of Grey familiar. The similarities just kept popping up at me and I don’t know if that was Hall’s intent. (I even texted Nat asking if it was just me and we both agreed that we were seeing the same things.)
I finally stopped noticing the similarities and instead began to feel that Hall was giving this storyline a bit of a shake-up. While Caspian like Christian remains the aloof guy, Arden is the opposite of the meek Ana of Fifty. In fact, he’s the one who keeps pushing and pursuing Caspian. It didn’t matter to me that Arden is slightly adrift without a clue about his future. He’s fun and has a tendency towards self-deprecation in such a British way which means that I automatically love him. I really am hopeless when it comes to that.
By the end, I came away with a better sense of Arden than I did Caspian which is okay because this book is about him determining what he wants even if the rest of his life isn’t in order yet. Caspian seems to thaw a little and I’m trusting that Hall will show us what Arden sees and senses in him sooner rather than later.
I liked the book a lot. I know there’ll be readers who’ve read Fifty Shades who'll have a hard time letting go of the comparisons and I get that. I managed to shed that hindrance and I feel it’s mostly because I was so drawn to the dynamics between Arden and Caspian; how Arden’s naïve, witty, playful personality countered Caspian’s solemn nature. Two distinct opposites clashing is so compelling to me. And there's something alluring about them when they're together and in the right moment. I also appreciated the dynamics with his best friend and family. It’s a joy to see some positive modelling of relationships between them, and it helps that they’re also engaging characters in their own right. My only question is how the prologue – which seems out of place once you’re done with the story - plays in to the rest of the series. I suspect that the subsequent books will answer that. In the meantime, I've added them to my "want to read" list and I'll try this whole patience thing as I wait for them. (Alexis, I'm suffering here.)
So basically, I’ve come to three important conclusions after reading HtBaB. One, my author-crush on Alexis Hall is perfectly intact. Two, I will be reading more of his books. And three, he can be my Scrabble partner because it’d be fun and he's brilliant with words!
I have loved Alexis Hall since I first read Glitterland - it's easily one of my favorite romances. I haven't read all of his books (I'm a terrible fan) but the few I have read have been stellar. I enjoy the prose and sharp humor that seems to be just as much as a part of Alexis Hall as it is of his books. When Shel and Bel told me this was releasing soon (I've been woefully behind on everything it seems), I jumped at the chance to read it with them.
The prologue was intriguing and I was slightly confused by it. BUT, it all ties in before the end of the book. A different (to me) and brilliant way to introduce other characters' feelings when the story is told in first person. The first couple chapters had me laughing out loud with awkward situations and Hall's signature humor. Then I kept reading and I was overwhelmed by a feeling of deja vu. Wait a minute.....Then it hit me that this was a retelling of 50 Shades of Grey. The initials of the main characters were the same. Their educations/jobs were almost the same. Wait, What? I was both taken aback and amused by Hall's naughtiness.
I wouldn't call this a parody (although, if you want a good 50 Shades parody, check out this). It wasn't any more over the top than 50 Shades. To be fair, 50 Shades is pretty over the top. I would consider How To Bang A Billionaire a straight up retelling. Much like a modern retelling of a fairy tale. In a lot of ways he made it what it should have been - Arden isn't the naive wet blanket that Anastasia is and stands up to Caspian way more than Anastasia ever stood up to Christian. I also loved that Arden's best friend was just that. A BFF without a hidden agenda of unrequited love. But it didn't seem to be poking fun at 50 Shades so much as somewhat re-framing the story and maybe poking fun at the readers. I'm still trying to work that out in my head as the whole deja vu experience left me feeling a little off kilter.
I enjoyed this book but didn't love it. I had a really hard time separating this from and, in turn, not comparing it to 50 Shades the entire time I was reading it. It really impacted my ability to completely immerse myself in the story. Honestly, I am not sure I can ever form an opinion of it without my prior reading clouding my view. But, I can tell you this. Every person I have talked to and every review I have seen by readers that have not read 50 Shades, greatly enjoyed this book. So, I am going to suggest you go with their unclouded recommendation.
As the only BiblioJunkie to have not read 50 Shades, I didn't have the same problems as Nat and Bel when reading HBB. I definitely recognized the similarities, having heard people talk about 50 Shades ad nauseam and having seen the movies, but they didn't distract me from the hilarity that was Arden.
I thoroughly enjoyed HBB. I thought Caspian was a dick and Arden was a mess, but they came together in an entertaining train wreck. I'm not a big fan of the SM of BDSM, so the prologue had me worried, but at the end of HBB I was full of smiles. And full of love for Alexis Hall.
Despite Natalie's recommendations, I hadn't read any Alexis Hall before HBB. I loved it so much, I immediately bought Glitterland. I admit, I don't like it nearly as much as I did HBB, but I will reserve final judgment until I finish, someday when my ARC TBR isn't out of control... As for the next in the Arden St. Ives series, I will be first in line to read it.
~Shel, Bel, and Nat