Cheek Books, $12.95, ISBN 978-0-352-34203-4
Contemporary Erotica, 2008
Firstly, a disclaimer. I don’t want to make a habit of putting disclaimers in a review, but I feel that it is necessary in this instance. At the time of writing, the author has rubbed off the wrong way some folks in the online romance community due to some drama involved with an upcoming electronic publisher. Let me make it clear here that I personally do not write this review just to get back at the author in any way. It’s my $12.95 on the line here, after all, so if you think I pay that much money just to be petty, you’re crazy. Whatever my personal feelings are about Jamaica Layne or the electronic publisher in question, they are not melodramatic enough to warrant such a show of ridiculous pettiness.
With that out of the way, I am going to say that Market for Love is not going to appeal to everyone. I can see the appeal of this book, mind you, it’s just that I am not one of those readers that appreciate the strengths of this book. This is an erotic romance so I try not to apply standards of political correctness to the fantasy it is selling. What is this fantasy, you ask? It’s one where a high-powered “ice queen” career woman is dominated completely by her alpha male superior. And by “dominate”, I am talking about a very lop-sided power play where the man has the upper hand all the time – he could very well play the Dom if we replace business suits with leather straps.
I would probably appreciate this fantasy better if the author hasn’t pulled a clichéd stunt and has our heroine, Miranda Johanson, being so incompetent in her job that she’s just like any random bad Harlequin Blaze heroine. I can’t get over the fact that this woman is as bright as a broken bulb. I’d actually find it more reasonable if the author has Miranda sleeping her way to her current position because expecting me to buy that she became a hot stock-market analyst using her brain is really pushing it. Besides, it’s hard to get excited over a heroine’s sexual domination by a mean, bad, and rude alpha male when this heroine is a complete pushover in both willpower and brain departments.
Maxwell Moore Jr is a piece of work indeed. This guy is a mean son of a bitch who pretty much blackmails Miranda into an affair with him. The romantic courtship sees him either humiliating her or treating her badly. Miranda likes being treated this way, which is part and parcel of the fantasy being sold here. Again, I can appreciate that even if that is not something I particularly enjoy reading. But yikes, Miranda makes it so easy for Max here, being all bark but no bite, that I can’t help wondering whether he’ll be bored of her and dump her within a month.
I like my power struggles to feature a heroine who gives back at least a little of what she gets, so with Miranda being a complete pushover here, I don’t find this one a particularly enjoyable read. With Miranda, Max is given free rein to become an obnoxious bully who goes around unchallenged, and that’s no fun. I like to see my bad boys tied up on the floor, gagged, and spanked hard until they repent. Therefore, there is a disconnect between the fantasy I prefer and the fantasy that is being sold here. I’d leave Market for Love for those who enjoy domination fantasies but have a higher tolerance for heroines who behave as if they would have problems remembering the days of the week in the correct order.