Contemporary romance’s love affair with billionaire heroes continues. My assertion that being a billionaire is akin to living on another planet and that the transition is not as simple as “now I can afford to buy shoes” continues. In this first book in the Billionaire Bad Boys series by M. Malone, sets up the novels that follow while bring together a big lug and a sweet young woman.
From Amazon (with comments from me): Tank Marshall has anger issues. (He has PTSD, is scary for a living, and keeps weapons in his home.) Years ago he swore off fighting but everything in his life lately is out of control. (Not good for the guy with PTSD). His mom’s cancer is back and the deadbeat dad he hasn’t seen in years is offering an inheritance in exchange for redemption. (As is the way of fiction, he managed to abandon his wife and young sons, spread his seed to others, and make billions at the same time because that last thing is apparently quite straightforward.) So he prowls the streets at night, looking for an outlet for the rage. (He is introduced to the reader while looking for victims to defend and bad guys to pummel.)
There’s only one person that keeps him anchored in the midst of the chaos. One person untouched by violence and money and lies. Emma Shaw. (Redemptive Female – Table for One!)But the one thing that Tank hasn’t learned yet is that when billions are at stake, there’s no such thing as innocent. Because the only woman he trusts is the last woman he should. (This is an overstatement.)
Money. Changes. Everything. (I hear this is true, but would love to test it personally.)
As the first book in Malone’s series, the streets are not paved with gold yet, but Tank and his brother have received some money from their father. Not being stupid and needing to pay for medical expenses (*see photo below), they accepted the money, but being honourable, they are not sure they want to take all of it, or pay the price their dad requires for it, specifically spending time with him. Dealing with his father’s machinations, Tank has been spending a lot of time at his lawyer’s office and is warm for the form of the receptionist, Emma. She, in turn, has noticed him, at 6’5″ it’s hard not to, but he seems like a bad news and she has been trying to resist his weekly dinner invitation. When their paths cross outside the office, their relationship tentatively begins.
Like Tank, Emma has a history of trauma. Her parents were murdered during a home invasion during which she was hidden and therefore spared. Trying to get herself back on track, she wants to return to university with an eye to veterinary college and really needs money for tuition. When the nice old man she brings documents to offers her a MILLION DOLLARS if she can convince Tank to visit and she agrees which is, let’s all admit, a perfectly sensible thing to do. You can imagine what happens next: They fall hard and fast, she learns he is sweet beneath his behemoth exterior – even though the author often conveniently ignores their height difference – and everything is daisies and candy floss for about 10 minutes until all of the sundry plot complications explode simultaneously.
I didn’t dislike Tank, but I didn’t particularly like it either and at some point I am going to write a diatribe about overkill in romance plotting, but not today as I was more concerned with the ongoing romance trope that violence management issues can be cured by love: “Ever since the beginning, being around you has been one of the only times I feel calm. Happy. You center me, Emma.” Is it her responsibility to keep him that way? Can his outbursts really be that selective? What happens when he doesn’t feel calm around her? Will it involve all of the guns he keeps in his closet? The reader sees him respond with disproportionate violence when defending people, so how far does “but he would never hurt me” go?
*the photo below