Things With Pages

Mister Romance by Leisa Rayven

Book Cover Mister Romance Leisa Rayven ReviewMister Romance is the first book in the Masters of Love series, and it features a unique play on the idea of male escorts. Max Riley isn’t so much as a male escort as he is Mister Romance, a man who will be anyone you want him to be and sweep you away on your fantasy. For a steep, steep price, of course. He doesn’t offer sex, but he makes women feel great.

Enter Eden Tate, an investigative journalist – actually she writes clickbait, but she totally wants to be an investigative journalist – who’s caught wind of Mister Romance. Now, Eden is the opposite of a romantic. She’s very cynical, and right off the bat, she feels like Max is swindling these women out of their money. She’s determined to find out the truth behind the so-called Mister Romance, and spill all in an article that’ll prove to her boss she’s good for more than fluff pieces.

She and Max make a deal: she goes on three dates with him as Mister Romance, and if she falls for his character(s), then she can’t write the article. However, if she isn’t affected at all and can’t see the good he’s doing, then Eden can write the article of her dreams, no holds barred. Both Max and Eden put their careers on the line, but in the end, will winning the bet mean losing something else?

I first picked up this book because the premise sounded so interesting. There aren’t a lot of male escort romances in novels, as far as I can tell, and as soon as I read the synopsis for this, I was hoping that it would be something reminiscent of The Wedding Date, a super sweet, super romantic movie that I’ll never get tired of. Also Dermot Mulroney.😍 Unfortunately, the plot and feel of this book are very different from the movie, and it turns out that neither the romance nor the characters were what I was unconsciously hoping for.

My feelings toward the characters actually remind me of what I felt when watching Kate & Leopold (imagine the Wolverine dressed as a gentleman from the regency). I liked the guy, but wasn’t so fond of the girl. In this book, Eden is a very untrusting person. She had sex with all the douchebags she could find, and kicked them out the very next morning – something both parties were extremely happy with. She knew that the people she was attracted to were the worst of the worst, and yet she simply didn’t care. She wasn’t a romantic, and thought that nothing could be worse than needing and/or loving someone. She was single and perfectly fine with that, which is indeed perfectly fine, but her abrasive and defensive personality made it difficult for me to connect with her. I do find her to be a realistic character, but the entire plot was set up on this defensiveness of Eden’s, and I simply wasn’t a fan of that.

So Max, he’s an interesting guy. Not even mentioning how he and Eden first meet – which for the record, I totally saw coming – I love that he doesn’t view women as objects to win over, but as actual people who need to be treated well (not just because they’re women but because hello, women are people). He also thinks that fighting over women and impressing them with strength is stupid – he’s pretty much a dream man, and again, I’m surprised by how amazed I always am when I see a fictional man do these little things that prove he’s progressive normal.

One thing I had an issue with is that both Max and Eden had backstories that weren’t very well developed. They’re mentioned really briefly in the novel to explain aspects of both of the characters, and yet I feel like they were literally just there to explain. It didn’t fit naturally with the characters’ stories, and honestly, I felt that Max’s backstory was a little bit far-fetched. It makes sense, but then again, does it really?

Similarly, I don’t feel that Max or Eden went through a lot of character development. For the most part, they’re the same people they were when we first met them in the beginning of the book. Sure there are a couple of differences, but Eden had doubts right up until the very end, and Max was the same person, except with his secrets revealed. I don’t know how to explain it, but I don’t feel like much was gained from beginning to end. The romance itself was overtly cliché, and the plot never hooked me.

I gave this book three stars (★★★). The idea behind the story is interesting, but it played out in a way that didn’t really intrigue me or keep my attention. It was too predictable, and the characters a bit too flat.

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