PPFF Rating (for the trilogy): 4/5 Stars
Christian Gray / Gideon Cross – ish, sans the BDSM
Honestly, I had already started reading the first book earlier this year but for some reason, I didn’t get past the first couple of chapters. I guess partly I felt it was too 50 Shades for me at that time (though it really isn’t, no BDSM with this one) or I probably hesitated after reading a bunch of negative reviews. But I finally relented a few days ago and I just couldn’t stop reading.
Book 1: This Man
Young interior designer Ava O’Shea has an appointment for a first consultation at The Manor with the owner, Mr Jesse Ward. He is also a conceited, hedonistic playboy, who knows no boundaries. Ava desperately does not want to be attracted to him, but she can’t control the overwhelming affect he has on her. Every instinct is telling her to run, so she does, but Jesse Ward is not so willing to let her go. He wants her and is determined to have her. She knows she is heading for heartbreak, but how can she run when he won’t let her?She is expecting nothing more than an overweight, cravat wearing, well-to-do countryman, and on arrival, nothing would suggest otherwise. How wrong could she be? This Man is devastatingly handsome, charming and confident.
“Just tell me one thing before you leave, Ava.” His voice prickles at my senses… His face is serious, but still stunning. “How loud do you think you’ll scream when I fuck you?
OK. If some guy whom I just met would be this blunt, even though he looked like the-God-that-Jesse-Ward-is, I probably still would have run away from him, FAR AWAY as I possibly could.
I can’t blame Ava for acting the way she did. I’ve read several reviews about how annoyingly childish she is but I must disagree. Maybe she just didn’t have the life experiences that would have made her act mature at 26 compared to Jesse who made a big deal of keeping his age a secret. Or maybe it’s because I would have reacted the same way to most of the situations that she found herself in with the complicated enigma that Jesse is.
Actually, I must admit that as much as I love my rich alpha males, Jesse was a bit too overbearing at times. Sure, I thought it was hot whenever he fucked some sense into Ava or fucked her senseless just so she would remember who was in charge but at the same time, it seemed almost too stupid to me. I think I even cringed once or twice when Jesse started his countdowns.
“Ava, the sexual tension batting between you and that man was so fucking super charged, even I was horny!”
But I wasn’t always feeling frustrated because I knew that as far as books that had fucked up characters were concerned, there has got to be a perfectly good reason or reasons as to why Jesse was the way he was. I also did like how sweet he could be with Ava; when it was good between them, it was really good but the way book one ended, it could only have gotten worse. Thank God I didn’t have to deal with that cliffhanger ending.
Book 2: Beneath This Man
She knew she was heading towards disaster. Every instinct told her to run, but Jesse Ward was a hard man to escape.
It has been five days’ since Ava O’Shea left Jesse drunk and raging at Lusso – left behind a man who drowned her in his intensity and blindsided her with his touch. Getting over this man was never going to be easy. And now he’s back in her life.
She has questions she needs answering, but her determination to get these answers will give the pleasure-seeking playboy the power to destroy her again. She needs to keep her eyes wide open and caution at the forefront of her mind, an ambitious intention when Jesse Ward is within touching distance. And he plans to be.
He’s dark, he’s broken – Ava knows this, but the only way to find out how dark and how broken is to get beneath the steely exterior of this man.
“Damn you, Jesse Ward, of an age I don’t know!”
So when book one ended, Ava still didn’t know how old Jesse was. All we know for sure was that he was older than her for at least 10 years. In book two, we finally found out his true age was – of course, he’s not twenty-one.
“As long as I have you, I have purpose and reason. That is why I won’t be drinking and that is why I will do everything in my power to keep you safe. Understand?”
Jesse Ward really is fucked up. According to him, he’s not an alcoholic but if he starts drinking, he won’t be able to stop until he’s most likely dead to the world. Later on, we find out that there’s more to this than what he first let on.
“I just wanted you to stay. I was stunned when you told me that I had a nice hotel.” He smiles a little, and I feel stupid. “Things got pretty intense, pretty quickly. I didn’t know how to tell you. I didn’t want you to run away again. You kept running away.”
What I really liked about Beneath This Man was that Jesse started opening up to Ava who was pretty much being mature and almost levelheaded whenever Jesse dropped another bombshell on her – just like when she found out that The Manor wasn’t really a hotel after all (which I kind of knew right at the beginning that there was something else going on there).
“You did this to yourself to prove you love me?”
“No, you know I love you. I did it to show you what it feels like.”
His brow furrows deeply. “I don’t understand. I know what it feels like to be whipped.”
“I don’t mean that. I mean the agony of seeing the man I love hurting himself.”
I became a big Ava fan after this book. I kept rooting for her while she tried her best to stand up to Jesse and to everything or everyone else who wanted to keep them apart. But there were some really intense scenes in here that it just left me emotionally exhausted (no cliffhanger ending this time though).
Book 3: This Man Confessed
The Manor, the very place where their passionate love affair began, fills with guests on what should be the happiest day of Ava and Jesse’s lives. She has accepted that she’ll never tame the fierceness in Jesse-and she doesn’t want to. Their love is profound, their connection powerful, but just when she thinks that she’s finally gotten beneath his guarded exterior, more questions arise, leading Ava to believe that Jesse Ward may not be the man she thinks he is. He knows too well how to take her to a place beyond ecstasy . . . but will he also drive her to the brink of despair? It’s time for this man to confess.
“You keep my heart beating, baby. And it will only ever beat for you.”
Finally, I became a fan – ish of Jesse.
Seriously, he’s no Gideon Cross because I feel like he’s too possessive that it’s not even that sexy. But in This Man Confessed, his words made me swoon. Intense!
“I need you to let me do all of those things, Ava. I need you to let me look after you forever.”
So OK, Jesse still has issues. But I have to agree, somewhat, that the logic behind how he is with Ava is quite understandable after everything he’s been through in his life before her. I can’t just say that their relationship is not normal because everything about their relationship is actually what normal is for them, however fucked up that seems.
There were also elements of this book that were so typical – the twists, the drama. Please, I don’t even know where to begin regarding the issue of the missing pills. But all in all, I’m happy that I was able to finish that first book and ended generally satisfied with the whole series.
“Do you feel that?’ He flattens my palms on his chest and holds them there firmly. ‘It was made to love you, Ava. For too long it was useless, redundant, not required. Now it’s gone into overdrive. It swells with happiness when I look at you. It splinters with pain when we fight. And it beats wildly when I make love to you.”
Reading the entire series in a span of three days was probably not such a good idea as it left me feeling a bit drained, what with all those heavy, intense stuff going on but I just couldn’t help myself. I SIMPLY HAD TO KNOW how it all ended. Props to Jodi Ellen Malpas’ writing genius.
“My work here is done.”