It's been a while since I've actually finished a book I really didn't like. ALPHA had a great summary, and I'd seen so many people singing its praises...surely, there had to be some solid basis for those many glowing four- and five-star reviews, right?
...Well, um, hmm...
Now I'm finished, and I'm not really sure what to say. The premise of this book was really great. You have this impoverished (white) girl with a dead father, a brother in college, and a mother in assisted living. She's just been fired from her temp job, after receiving a quid pro quo offer from her perverted boss. The bills are piling up, she's out of options...and then she receives a check completely out of the blue for $10,000.
What would you do? Would you cash it?
It really is an interesting question. In a slightly different story, I think it could have been fascinating to explore the psychology behind the characters who would a) send out the check in the first place and b) cash it in. I thought I was getting a dark erotica about Stockholm Syndrome featuring an impulsive female protagonist who ends up reaping the consequences from a single moment of weakness.
That would have been an amazing story.
I did not get that story.
The problems of this book start when the sender comes to collect, and our plucky protagonist, Kyrie St. Claire, proves that she is, in every sense of the word, way too stupid to live. She allows a strange man into her apartment, goes with him into a strange car, and only tells her best friend where she's going. She then allows herself to be taken onto a strange plane, and then taken, blindfolded, into a strange home. There's a strange reveal early on where it's revealed that the hero has saved Kyrie from being raped and murdered several times, including getting her out of the clutches of what is essentially a serial killer.
Our hero, V.R., is what you'd get if you combined the Beast and Christian Grey into a blender. He's a strange blend of "you cannot leave, but I'll give you anything you want" and "I want to sex you up in ways that push every single one of your comfort zones." These are conflicting motivations, and cause the character to seem inconsistent. Like, for example, he'll say that he isn't interested in Kyrie just for sex, but everything they do is sexual, and they only ever seem to talk about sexual things or how attractive they find each other, so his talk never matches his walk. Not once. He's stalked Kyrie for years, has files built on her and flashdrives full of pictures (no nudes, he insists - what a gentleman! you might say, although later he says that it's because that they would be too much temptation for him to have around, so not so gentlemanly, after all). He takes care of all her financial matters in exchange for her total submission in all things, and repeatedly says he owns her and her family.
Here's my question, though...what makes this situation different from the employer at the beginning who said that she could only keep her job if she sleeps with him? V.R., unlike that creepy 60-year-old dude with the wrinkly weiner, is hot. Norse God, Greek God, Aleksander Skarsgard - he's compared to all three of those entities multiple times. And what drives the point home even more is that Kyrie herself says that she would have considered sleeping with her boss in the beginning to keep her job if she thought it would be fun and he was actually hot. So really, that horrible moment in the beginning of the story is just put in there to foreshadow and explain the attraction between V.R. and Kyrie later.
I also really didn't like the sex scenes in this book. I don't find the word "boobs" sexy at all, for example. That's the word I typed into calculators in math class when I was eight (8008). The author also overuses several words like "thick" (thick peaks, thick and pink, etc.) and "pebbled", and bizarre phrases like "fat licks" that just sound gross instead of sexy. There's also this scene that was actually kind of stupid, where V.R. decides to stick a bullet vibrator up Kyrie's butt - bullet vibrators are small and not meant to be inserted. They're for stimulation only. So it could have easily gotten stuck up there. That's actually why plug toys are shaped the way they are, just FYI. So they won't get stuck.
Finally, the big reveal of this story. Well, I guess it was shocking. I mean, I wasn't really expecting it. There was so much build-up and secrecy over V.R.'s identity that I kept expecting something earth-shattering. It was pretty much the only reason I continued reading, to be honest. I wanted to find out what persuaded him to stalk her for years, and why he was so obsessed with her. I'm a sucker for a good mystery, what can I say. But when you shed his reveal of the shock factor, it basically comes down to - again - "I thought you were hot."
ALPHA was a huge miss for me. It seems to be popular with the erotica crowd, and I guess if you are looking for a quick, easy read that's more sex than plot, this is the perfect book for you. It was a fast read, I will say that. The pages just flew. But if you're hoping for a complex story that's darker than dark and has actual chemistry and tension between the characters, keep looking, because this book isn't it.
I will not be continuing this series, although I'd be willing to give Wilder another go. Supposedly this series is an exception to her usual lineup, and I think I've got FALLING INTO YOU on my Kindle.
1 out of 5 stars.