Anyone but Rich, by Penelope Bloom.

This is an odd mixture of a book. On the one hand, I did like it. You get the catharsis that Aristotle banged on about. On the other hand, like much romance we’ve seen before, it’s becoming outdated with the way their male leads, and even their female leads, behave. I try to avoid spoilers as much as I can, but, nonetheless, there might be one or two.

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Kira and her friends have made a pact. They will never, ever, come anywhere near the King brothers. Ever.

Again, that is.

The pact they made in high school is easy to hold, considering the Kings are away from their small town and with no chance of ever coming back.

Until they do come back, that is.

Now, Rich King has everything. He has a great business, a lot of money, a private jet and a beautiful, well-bred, girlfriend. But he has unresolved feelings for his high school crush, Kira. Intending to close that chapter of his life, he goes back to his native town to make amends.

So far so good, right? Nothing like a going-back-home story.

The problem comes when Kira tells him to go fuck himself, and he doesn’t. Rich King forces his way into her life, regardless of what she says. With arguments such as ‘if you don’t do what I am asking now, it’s only going to get worse’ and a grin on his face, he gets her to agree to go with him to dinner, etc. Luckily, it doesn’t extend to more intimate situations, but that doesn’t eliminate the problem.

Yes, Rich ends up being a good guy, but that’s no justification for ignoring her very clear wishes to have him get out of her sight. We are yet again confronted with the charm that trumps the stalker behaviour. Because we hadn’t had enough with Edward Cullen and Christian Grey. All these male characters are telling people is that it’s fine to be a creep as long as you have a six-pack and you’re rich.

If I imagine that behaviour in real life, it makes me cringe, body and money non-withstanding, and a lot of women will recognize it for what it is. But there are a lot of younger women who might swoon at that idea and find that their Rich/Edward/Christian is not so nice at the other end of the tunnel. In fact, he is a psychopath.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have faith in most women and their ability to recognize this as simply a fantasy and not take it too literally, but it’s just that I’ve met this guy so many times now, in so many different books, whether romance or not romance, that it’s just becoming a bit… blah.

Also, I must say that this is not an erotic novel at all, though there are a couple of sex scenes. Let me tell you this: pulling out is a very poor contraceptive method and a disastrous prophylactic. There are worse things in the world than unintended pregnancies. I have read erotic novels that involves condoms. It can be done. I am going to have a t-shirt made with the words ‘Condoms, people!’ written on it.

Now, do I recommend this book? Is it entertaining? It is, I’m not going to lie. Am I going to read ‘Anyone but Cade’ and ‘Anyone but Nick’? Yes, I am. I am just hoping they’ll be a bit more #metoo friendly.

Kira is lovable and her group of friend is intriguing. Iris and Miranda have strong characters that I am looking forward exploring in the sequels. On the King side of things, while Cade is a dumbass, you end up finding him funny in an endearing sort of way. My issues with this book are philosophical rather than literary.

Read via Netgalley.

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