ARC Review: Substitute by Isobel Rey

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Title: Substitute
Author:  Isobel Rey
Publisher/Year:  Sourcebooks Inc. 6/3/14
Length:  272 Pages

Overview 

It took all of Alexia’s courage to leave her abusive boyfriend. When old school-friend Romy offers her a temp job at the glamorous London sports agency where she works, Alexia thinks she is saved. But shy, blonde and beautiful, she is totally unprepared for the fast sexual politics of rich sports men, big money and ambitious women.

After witnessing junior agent Tony having sex on the boss’s table, her dormant sexuality is awakened with a violence that frightens her. Tony’s sees her need and Alexia finds herself almost giving in to his desire to dominate her. But despite his devastating sexual charisma, she only has eyes for the boss.

Nathan Fallon is the ex army officer, dazzling but damaged, who has risen to the top of the cut-throat world of sports agents. But he thinks she’s Tony’s latest conquest. Desperate to win his respect, Alexia agrees to become his substitute PA for a week. But Alexia finds herself trapped between one man bent on bending her to his sexual will, and another she cannot read. Can she navigate this whirlpool of fame, money, and sex to fend off Tony long enough to win Nathan?

My Thoughts

I got access to this book as an ARC and as i was trying to find out if it was part of a greater series, i saw that there were a bunch of reviews that weren’t saying the best things about it.  I find that i often love when that happens since i’m not set up to have great expectations on a story – and ultimately my opinion is validated.  In this instance, what we have is a pretty good story – i like where it takes us, but there are just a few flaws.

Before i get into that, let’s take a real look at what we have here.  We have a story of Alexia who is finally coming into her own.  What we learn through her revelations is that she’s quite inexperienced in romance and men and sex, so where we first meet her is really a jolt to her system. As noted in the overview, she comes upon Tony and Phillipa having sex in the office and she’s trapped in a bathroom hoping that she won’t be discovered.  What she finds though is that she’s becoming quite intrigued and engrossed in the scene in front of her and it turns her on to the extent that she finishes things off for herself.  This becomes a trend mind you – quite a bit of self-fulfillment in this story.

From then on, her life is of course turned upside down.  She’s perpetually in ‘heat’ for lack of a better phrase, always turned on by the men surrounding her, if it’s Tony from the office, Nathan her boss (who won’t give her the time of day since he thinks that she’s shagging Tony) or Richard – Romy’s American friend.  All these men help to wake up things inside her that were never alive before, and really – all at the same time.

So that’s one of the flaws here – i’ve read a lot in this genre and i think that we often find that when the leading lady is finding her sexual side that she has a lot of partners, and i think that it was woven into the story really well – but honestly, i feel like it was careless and a bit much.  She”s with Tony one moment, Richard the next, fantasizing about Nathan at the same time – it’s just a lot.

The other flaw that i have is in the writing of these scenes.  I’ve had this problem in the past with a few novels – where the language used from time to time is off-putting – meaning that i feel like it’s someone who’s more crass telling and writing the story – and it detracts from my experience.  I choose to over look it here since i enjoyed the story.

The entire time that your’e reading this story, you’re rooting for Alexia to find herself in a good way, and you want things to work out with her an Nathan, or even her and Richard for that matter.  I think that it’s nice to have that safety blanket that is ‘something more’ that she has with Richard, and it makes you wonder what’s next for them.  You can’t help but hope for the worst for Tony since he’s making a budding romance between Nathan and Alexia impossible, and i think that we begin to see what will be his downfall.

I also like the introduction of Sonia – someone who knows Nathan really well (or as well as anyone can) and she’s a fast confidante and friend to Alexia who helps try to right that paths.

So, all in all, not half bad – with the writing aside, and it’s because of the story.  Even with the brash – crassness of it all, we get some hot scenes – you really feel everything that Alexia is going through and that’s key to keep a story going.  I’d be interested in hearing what you guys have to say – especially given that so many people haven’t enjoyed it as much.

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