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Abusive relationship portrayed as romance
on July 5, 2016
I don’t remember the last male main I hated as much as I hated Clayton Afton Sinclair. He’s violent (he strikes Sophie in anger and physical correction was never a negotiated or agreed-upon part of their relationship, he has to be pulled off another man who expresses interest in her), he’s controlling (he insists on knowing the details of her previous relationships without sharing his own, he attempts to dictate what she wears and when she can drink), creepy (he’s way too enthusiastic about her virginity), and prone to chilling rages (which are sometimes prompted by misunderstandings).
Sophie is a spoiled law school drop-out. She meets Clayton when she decides to celebrate her decision to quit school and become an artist by blowing her savings on an exclusive luxury vacation in the Maldives. Her wealthy parents are quite clear that they will not support her as an artist, so I’m not sure what she plans to live on once she spends on all her money by treating herself to a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Maybe she thinks she’ll get commissions right away? She never does anything but sketch in this book, so the problem may be pressing for her sooner rather than later.
Sophie, despite her social advantages, perfect body, model-like good looks, and the existence of an ex-fiance, is a 23-year-old virgin. Why? We never really find out, she’s just kind of awkward (in a cute romance novel way, not in an “actually awkward” way). In reality, she is a virgin so that Clayton can get all excited about it when he over-hears here discussing it with her friends. Despite going to high school and college in one of the biggest cities in the US and having all the advantages of her beauty and social status, she never found anyone to have sex with – even during her extended engagement. It’s not a religious or cultural thing. It just doesn’t make sense in 2016.
The first person she meets on the island is Clayton Sinclair, a handsome British billionaire who is also an aristocrat. He immediately falls for Sophie and begins exercising control over her life. They quickly fall in “love.”
Somewhere along the line, the term “alpha” has lost its meaning to some authors. People. A man who hits you in anger, who hides his past while insisting on knowing every detail of yours, who forbids you from wearing certain clothing because he doesn’t want others to see what is “his,” who restricts your movements, who curses freely but tells you not to do so, who controls what you eat and drink, who has to be restrained from beating your ex – that isn’t an alpha. That’s just an abusive vacation fling who wants to be an abusive boyfriend. Choosing your own clothing shouldn’t make a man “livid.” That these things happen when Clayton and Sophie have literally known each other for days doesn’t bode well for the levels of violence, control, and manipulation later in their relationship.
The writing in this book is okay (although the author has a terrible habit of using Sophie’s narration to call attention to the artificiality of the scene, saying things like “I felt like I was in a bad romantic comedy.” No. You’re in a contrived scene written by someone who has watched too many bad romantic comedies). But Clayton is so abusive and awful that it killed my interest in watching this relationship progress.