Author: Francette Phal
Release Date: October 2012
Blurb ~ They created the game but eighteen year old Nicholas Grayson mastered the rules.
They are young and entitled and utterly bored with their lives, so they play games to entertain themselves. They call it the “bet” and new girl Ellie Holbrook is their latest target. Ellie is not the kind of girl Nicholas dates, but she is pretty enough to be his next conquest and so he sets out to seduce her and claim a nice little prize at the end. But her seduction proves difficult when she openly rejects his advances. In his dogged pursuit of her he slowly finds himself in her small circle of trusted friends and meets her two year old daughter, Sophie.
Life takes a startling turn for Nicholas when he realizes his happiness now lies with the young mother and her daughter. Falling in love with Ellie isn’t something Nicholas ever thought could happen to him and he’s completely frightened at how fiercely she makes him feel. But before he can further examine those emotions and clearly process them, enemies from Nicholas’s personal circle of friends conspire to tear them apart and he must now decide whether their love is worth saving or allow his friends to take away the greatest thing that’s ever happened to him.
June 9. 2014
3.5 Jaw-Dropping Stars
Copy provided by Author for Honest Review
It’s rare when I have such festering emotions about a book. Especially when those emotions lie solely with complete and utter loathing towards one of the characters. At only 8% in I knew Nicholas Grayson and I would never see eye to eye and as much as I utterly HATE him I loved this book. I’ll admit the blurb threw me. I expected a story reminiscent of a 90’s teen drama and though I got some of that this book blew me away and continued to surprise me.
Even at the bitter end I hated Nicholas Grayson, perhaps even more so than I did in the beginning. The irony is not lost on me though since even with my Hatred boiling this story was gripping and I thoroughly entrenched, so much so that I had it finished and book #2 started before the end of the day. Which reminds me, before even starting this book I suggest having the second part ready and available since the ending will leave much to be desired in a cruel way only a cliffhanger can deliver.
Francette Phal has a very unique writing style and it took me a bit to get used to it. The way the story is broken up was a bit confusing often skipping to new character POV’s from one paragraph to the next. The story is told in third person but that does not deter from the personal touch of each character. Even with all the POV’s the story flowed rather well minus a few grammar and spelling errors.
Even after finishing this book only last night, I find it very hard to rate. If I was to focus on my hatred towards Nicholas I would have to rate this very low. However, even with his incompetence and asshole tendencies the story trumps his behavior and I cannot deny how enthralled I was from start to finish. It helps that Ellie is such a likable character. It’s not every day a fifteen year old girl can crawl out of the pits of hell, raise a baby and still be a decent person with goals and no scorn.
The one big issue I had besides Nicolas and wanting him to be burned alive at the stake, was how many people were in LOVE with Nicholas. Sure I get that he was handsome but as a person he is a piece of shit, easily manipulated into doing wrong and just behaving like a child, Ellie’s three year old daughter is more well behaved than him. When we first meet Nicholas he does not hide his evilness. Hell he gets off on making others suffer, particularly girls. He uses them and tosses them aside all the while being more evil than you can imagine which just goes to show how much high school truly sucks. He doesn’t feel anything about his behavior, he thrives on ti and the more people he hurts the more he feels. How almost every girl can LOVE him made me sick. Aside from Ellie no one has any sense, but hell if they want to sleep with the devil and be burned, more to them.
I don’t want to discuss the plot too much since there is so much more to this story than the blurb lets on. For me this was a very emotional book. One minute I was happy and the next I wanted to commit felonies and more. Having read Monster by Francette Phal and loving it, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this story. Seeing as I had in on my TBR list for so long I knew I needed to read this and I sure am glad I did, even with the still present growls coming from deep inside. Each character truly took on a life of their own. Ellie most of all sticks out in my mind as being beyond expectations. She views the world with eyes wide open and expects nothing from anyone. Even as Nicholas sort of grew on me over time, Ellie continued to stand out and really impressed me with her strength and perseverance, I can’t say I’d react the same in half the situations this eighteen year old must triumph through.
Overall - read this book. I admit going into this book and expecting one thing but getting another was completely eye opening. The end had me so furious I nearly threw my beloved kindle. Then again the whole story had my emotions on a never-ending roller coaster with twists and turns. If you’re looking for something different, something to not only such you in but spit you out a bloody mess, I suggest picking up this book. (But remember I warned you to have book 2 ready and available. Even the minute it took me to open it was too long.) Well done Francette Phal, you’ve amazed me, pissed me off and left me a whimpering mess and I need more like a junkie with a fix.
***On a side note there are many serious serious issues that take place in this book. There’s mention of rape but no drawn out scenes. Drug use, drug abuse, prostitution, physical and emotional abuse, revenge, and backstabbing are only a few of the serious topics so proceed with caution.***
Nicholas Grayson wasn’t a nice person. In fact one could call him an asshole and he wouldn’t dispute it. He was as jaded as they come, eighteen years old, with a moral compass fixed permanently on diabolical. He was an emotional cripple with the personality of a cactus. He understood his faults and embraced each one with gusto.
His goals in life were to piss off his parents, break a few laws and generally screw his way through life. He was a good looking kid, born with movie star looks, a little James Dean with Brando’s swagger thrown into the mix to make the female populace of John Edgar High swoon.
He was fully aware of his power over the fairer sex and he used that knowledge for his own selfish end.
It was a game his group of friends played and Nicholas excelled at it. He’d slept with nearly every girl on campus, seduced each and every one with practiced ease that had become second nature, like breathing.
The sex was initially meant to stave off boredom; another vice to add to the growing list of evils he’d accumulated over the years. But then, like all things in his life, sex had become nauseatingly easy to obtain.
“Nicky.” The breathy call of his name had Nicholas peering over his shoulder where Maddie Tate, “Fatty Maddie,” as she was known by many in his circle, looked at him with sickening adoration.
Lounging across his king sized mattress in post-coital bliss, she looked every bit the sated lover with her tousled cinnamon red hair, flushed face, and gleaming azure eyes. She was in love with him. Had been for quite some time now and would undoubtedly do anything he asked of her.
It would take nothing to manipulate her and bend her to his will. Nicholas was sure that she would follow him. Therefore the seduction of Maddie Tate hadn’t taken much doing. The fact is Nicholas had been feeling charitable at the time. She was just another notch in this game he’s come to master; another pawn to use and discard when he was finished. He’d made a video of all their sordid acts just as he always had done and stood to win five hundred dollars for his troubles. Chump change as far as he was concerned but a win nevertheless.
“N-Nicholas…,” the voice was little hesitant this time. He heard the rustling of sheets as she rose.
“Get out.” This was the part he relished the most. Devil that he was, he caught the hitch of her breath and reveled in it.
“I…um…did I do something wrong?”
He took a moment tinkering with the camera before turning to give her his undivided attention, mouth curling into a bastardized version of a smile. “Well.” He moved with effortless grace, swagger unmatched, open and welcoming in contrast to the calculated, almost predatory look in his diamond grey eyes. “You didn’t bore me completely.”
Her face crumpled. The ensuing expression nearly heartbreaking as tears welled. If he cared he would’ve felt something other than this deep rooted annoyance and sudden need to see her out of his bedroom. “Now, please get your shit and get out.” It didn’t take long after that. Shoving him aside with surprising strength she gathered her things and was out like a shot.
Now, Nicholas figured, she’d grow to hate him like so many of the others who’d come before her.
It was what he did best. Fuck ‘em and leave ‘em. He lived by those words, using a slightly different variation out of the bedroom.
He was his father’s child after all; he had learned about screwing people from the master himself. Grabbing the half emptied bottle of whiskey from his dresser Nicholas made his way to the balcony in his bedroom. He took a mouthful, and then another, feeling decidedly better as each swig burned a warm path down his throat. Maneuvering himself over the balcony’s ledge he sat precariously over the edge, legs dangling four stories over the gleaming pool below. A deprecating smile tugged at his lips and Nicholas knew his demons were not far. He could hear the menacing gait of their hooved feet making a steady trek to the forefront of his mind, carrying with them memories he would sooner forget.
Shit, he was feeling maudlin. Why? He hadn’t the slightest idea. Only that the memories refused to be quelled, refused to be inundated by the liquor as per usual. The sudden image of his father fleeted across his vision and Nicholas gave a humorless laugh. Well wasn’t that just a kick in the teeth? Even at his lowest he continued to be haunted by the immoral bastard.
Charles Grayson, CEO and founder of one of the nation’s largest real estate firm was the devil incarnate and Nicholas could attest to that. He’d been ten years old when the first lesson had been imparted. There’d been an incident in school involving him and another student. Nicholas couldn’t remember exactly what it was he’d done, but he remembered he’d been mean and had been fittingly reprimanded for it by his teacher. Charles had somehow gotten word of it and swiftly rectified the situation. The teacher was terminated, credentials ruined and she’d been unable to find work in the state again. This action was quite extreme and cruel for something so little, but then Charles had never been the sentimental sort.
He was a ruthless man whose underhanded business tactics had gained him his empire. Therefore when it came to his son, Charles was merciless. He’d taken the ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ ideology quite seriously and the scars of those lessons were now imprinted on Nicholas’s soul.
Nicholas took another swig from the bottle while raking a hand through his long hair. He was agitated and dear old Jack wasn’t doing it for him tonight. Needing a distraction that was something quite possibly stronger, he headed back to his bedroom and finished off the last of the amber liquid before tossing it aside.
Francette lives in Massachusetts with her amazingly supportive husband of ten years and her darling two year old son. Reading amazing books has led her to writing and she’s dabbled in fan-fiction before self-publishing her own works. She’s constantly thinking up new stories to write and does her best work when music is playing in the background. Romance is where she’s most comfortable but she hopes to one day venture in mystery novels. She has a weakness for coffee ice cream, tropical fruits and a good glass of wine.