Surprise! RAPE.

Gilted  - Jill Flannagan
Maybe someday they would find a way to put away their mutual hurt away.

Today on Booklikes: Awkward Adventures in the English Language.

Truthfully, with a minimal amount of alcohol, a dash of pixie dust and maybe a dozen cupcakes, I can imagine the book Gilted was trying to be. And it wasn’t that bad, that imaginary book. This book on the other hand is an entirely different story.

The cover gives a fantasy-thriller vibe and I was easily drawn towards the prospect of a con artist targeting a politician in a honeypot scheme. What I wasn’t ready for was the rambling narrative, poorly constructed sentences, inconsistent characters details, the barely-there construction of this plot’s fantasy aspect and the unexpected rape. 

I am quite disturbed that this made no mention of that little plot detail in the summary (even perhaps as a warning?), seeing as its a widely identified trigger among readers. But what was worse was how it was gratuitously used as a plot device in the story.

This was about Ash Gilt’s attempt into conning money from favoured gubernatorial candidate Charles Appleby. She poses as his personal assistant and fuck buddy to help finance her incarcerated brother’s upcoming murder trial. Not only does Ash come from a family of con artists, she also has an ability to influence people’s emotions along with being able to compel and manipulate memories and “taste” feelings and personalities. Unfortunately, Appleby has certain proclivities in the bedroom that renders Ash’s abilities useless (because she gets scared *eyeroll*) so she had to manipulate the situation but for a price. Right in the middle of her plans, Ash finds herself inexplicably drawn to Lee Hierne, Appleby’s friend whom he hired to dig up and cover potential PR bombs threatening his campaign. 

First question, if Ash has the ability to manipulate people’s emotions to her whims: WHAT’S THE POINT OF THIS ENTIRE BOOK? Seeing as it was a major plot point, I expected a little more development on that aspect in this heroine’s character than this served. Why did she have to pretend she’s the governor’s PA, suffer through unwanted BDSM sex and rape? Why couldn’t she have just walked up to the guy, he IS on a campaign after all, and did her mental juju making him give her money? Choosing mind powers in fiction is bound to create plot holes because the scope and infallibility of that skill makes it impossible to create any equivocal conflict that the character needs to overcome. I mean, seriously.

It was difficult to sympathise with a heroine like Ash, a self-proclaimed doormat when it comes to her family with self-esteem issues in one chapter but feeling no remorse at her manipulative and scheming ways since she knows in her heart, that she’s a good person. Because she’s willing to have herself raped in order to get money to help her asshole brother in prison for no apparent reason other than he’s family. I suppose it was a sorry attempt at giving her some complexity, this skewed morality and core values, but she really only ended up contradicting herself most of the times. 

Lee is just the most unswoonable hero I’ve come across in a while, I’m not even sure this book was trying. He has strange tendencies, caressing computers and whispering at speakers (I don’t even know why that statement was put there! To creep me out further?) He hears drum music whenever he sees Ash walk away.

…the glass afforded a view and out of the corner of his eye, he saw Miss Sex on Legs walk. The ba-da-boom music played in his head as she approached the door.

He classifies women into fucks and colleagues except Ash, probably because he really likes the beat of them bongos when she walks by. But he doesn’t like rough sex, he only wants to make sweet, sweet love to these “fucks” and I guess that’s where the “reformed” in the “reformed millionaire bad boy” figures in. But stranger still, he openly admitted to “having violent Bobbitt-like thoughts about Charles’ member all night” after finding out that he raped Ash. Some may find that being alpha-adorable, but I just wanted to consult the Bro Code and what it says about a Bro thinking of another Bro’s dick at night. It was all very strange. I kinda want to send him to Anne Stuart’s Gamma Hero Boot Camp to learn how to be the kind of hero he aspires to be.

The narrative was rambling, drifting back and again to the same issues tackled in the space of three pages. The sentence construction was just so fucking painful to read that just deters me from even considering picking up the next book in this series.

Charles was divorced, he could fuck whoever he liked. He was a Democrat, for Chrissakes. He could gallivant nude in public with only a sock on his tallywhacker and still get elected. He was handsome, popular and a Democrat.

Hey, I seem to have forgotten, is Charles a Democrat?

I was hoping for an Urban Fantasy-Ides of March type of story from Gilted… clearly I’ll be needing more alcohol, cupcakes and pixie dust to convince myself that this was ALMOST that story.

Review Copy courtesy of Wyrd Publishing thru Netgalley.