Marie Johnston, $3.99, ISBN 978-0463501016
Contemporary Romance, 2020
I’d be straight up honest here: I have no idea what the story is about when I first spot the cover of Marie Johnston’s King’s Crown. I don’t care. If that fellow were the king, he can present to me his crown anytime. And, should he misbehave enough for my liking, I’d even polish it until it glistens. So yes, I see, I blink twice, and I buy.
It’s a tale as old as time: of course buyer’s remorse sets in when I sit down to read this thing.
Firstly, the hero Gentry King—whatever the author had when she came up with that name, I hope she shared it around—is twenty years older than our heroine Kendall Brinkley. While the guy on the cover is still hot and he can crown me anytime he wants, when I see that kind of description, I think of Joe Manganiello, not Pretty Boy Pedro on the cover.
Anyway, Gentry King is an oil baron—sorry, socialists, you’re on your own on this one—and he’s of course hot and fabulous and, most importantly loaded. Our heroine Kendall tries very hard to be the kooky, adorable damsel in distress. She starts out in this story practically rolling downhill—she loses her job, then her home, et cetera—until she finally scores an interview to be Gentry’s power second-in-command. Hey, don’t hate me, I’m just kidding about that last part. We all know romance heroines aren’t allowed to be anything other than caregivers, and fortunately for all of us, Kendall desperately needs a job and money to take care of the brats.
It is so distressing to have to board a private plane to be interviewed by a hot, loaded billionaire, oh, and it gets worse when she is trapped in a snowstorm with a potential employer. Naturally, she is soon sleeping with her new boss, and then comes a whole lot of drama about how everyone else, especially those bitchy sluts, are so jealous of her and make her cry like the snowflake she is. How can she prove to everyone that she is not a gold digging ho?
If you have been following me long enough, you will know that I have no issues with gold-digging hos as long as they own up to their antics and take pride in being such a successful ho. I have little patience for heroines that act like sleeping with a hot billionaire marks them as the biggest ho in all of ho-dom, and that makes them reel left to right to back again like a malfunctioning drone. They can just continue to lay in the bed and spread those legs for happiness. That, or, simple, just leave if the trauma is too great for them.
Alas, Kendall is a spineless watering spout, so she spends her time here alternating between flailing on Gentry’s lap and flailing around the room while spraying tears of hapless despair everywhere. Her tears and misery are because people think of her as a ho and treat her like she’s their favorite doormat. Who cares? Sleeping with the oil baron solves her money problems and she’s getting multiple orgasms in the process, on top of a future of unlimited credit and all the nice things she can buy. If I were her, I’d wipe my tears with hundred-dollar bills and buy myself some lovely, obscenely expensive things to help me heal.
In fact, by making Kendall what she is, the author ends up making me doubt the longevity of the whole relationship. Living in Gentry’s world isn’t going to be easy, as Kendall will be brushing up against superficial, self-absorbed Karen-types of all genders on a daily basis, and no doubt there will always be women trying to steal her man from her because why not. If our heroine wilts each time under even the slightest hint of distress so early in the relationship, how is she going to last in Gentry’s world?
As for Gentry, he is trying to set an example to his kids when it comes to having healthy relationships. He’s a new man now! No more short, meaningless flings for him, he’d settle for this wretch instead. He has his eye-rolling heavy-handed moments, but with Kendall being what she is, it feels right that he comes off more like a father and babysitter than a lover quite often. I don’t fault the author for this, as I have seen similar dynamics in real life relationships featuring couples with a twenty-year age gap between them, but she could have at least made the relationship more enjoyable to read.
Instead, King’s Crown is just a disingenuous fantasy with a heroine that constantly seeks validation in a most cloying, obnoxious manner. Between bouts of tears, Kendall will try to get Gentry to assure her that yes, she is indeed sexy; yes, she is indeed not like those other hos he’d boinked; yes, she’s better than everyone else. The whole thing just feels fake, like an artificial fantasy designed for readers to place themselves in Kendall’s shoes and imagine that Gentry is assuring them that they are hotter, sexier, and more deserving of love than all the hos that got their claws on the hot men they fancied from afar.
Me, I’m at that stage in my life where I’d rather read a romance with a couple on equal footing, so this particular fantasy falls flat for me. Kendall annoys me, Gentry is tainted by association with that crybaby doormat try-hard fake puffball, and I have serious doubts that this romance will last a year.