Dear Ms. Tate:
I’m always wary when publishers opt to market a book as “For fans of New York Times bestselling authors Samantha Young, Sylvia Day, and E. L. James”. My experience is that the books rarely live up to the hype, plus, EL James is not a selling point for me. But Samantha Young is, which is why, despite my exhaustion with the billionaire trope, I requested your book.
Allegra Orsini is a gifted opera singer who is working at a posh restaurant in New York as a coat check girl. One evening she finds a beautiful Hermes scarf and a single leather men’s glove in her coat check room. She dutifully puts them in her Lost & Found box and goes about her business. The next day, the most beautiful man she’s ever seen comes to claim the glove. He is Davison Cabot Berkley, billionaire playboy. He is accompanied by his well known girlfriend, Ashton. Their families are longtime friends and everyone knows that they are destined to end up married. Except, when Davison claims the glove, and touches Allegra, there is an immediate spark.
Without warning, he begins rubbing his thumb over my hand, slowly. So slowly. My breaths begin to increase. His emerald eyes turn darker, hooded with a look that both scares me and arouses me. The warmth from his touch permeates my skin, setting the rest of me aflame. I can feel myself turning wet at the apex of my thighs. I press my lips together, determined not to break this moment. He is powerful and commanding. I can’t look away. And I don’t want to.
Then he moves closer to me. His lush mouth opens to say something, his thumb still moving again and again over my hand.
“Do you think I could make you come just by doing this?”
SIGH. I don’t understand how this is supposed to be sexy. Had I been Allegra, I’d have yanked my hand away and called security. Because no matter how pretty he is, that’s just creepy.
Anyway, she tells him her name and that she’s studying at the Gotham Conservatory and he secretly arranges for her class to have a backstage tour at the Metropolitan Opera. She’s delighted, but wary. What could he possibly want from her? Obviously, he wants to be with her. And he begins a single minded pursuit that creeped me out. Allegra knows she can’t be with paparazzi magnet, Davison because of her past. When she was a child her mother was murdered by a stalker while Allegra was present. She ran away from the stalker and hid from him, disappearing for two days. When she came out of her hiding place, her photo was plastered on the covers of newspapers all over the world. For some reason, this is a shameful secret and therefore, she can’t be with Davison, or bring shame upon the House Berkley, or something.
Oh dear, this book. I was intrigued by the opera singing heroine, and you do a nice job incorporating her talents into the book. We do get to see Allegra practicing and performing, and your research certainly shows. Davison, on the other hand, is out of Billionaires-Are-Us. He is overbearing, entitled, well-hung and dominant. Because, billionaire. The secondary characters are very stock, with Ashton, Davison’s possible girlfriend, being right out of the EVIL competition playbook. The book was ridiculously predictable. There is a minor sub-plot with Allegra’s mother’s kidnapper, which I think was intended to raise the stakes, but it felt almost like your editor said, “throw in something about the kidnapper” so you did. It wasn’t well incorporated into the story, so it felt out of left field, and therefore I was not invested in the raised stakes at all. I was even more shocked to find out that this is apparently just one installment of Allegra and Davison’s story, even though I felt like the book ended in a perfectly fine HFN place. Overall, I found Breathless for Him to be predictable in the extreme and a really mediocre entree into the billionaire hero trope. Final grade: D+.