Those looking for an intense read will get just that with Control by Laura Marie Altom with its damaged heroine and the hero who wants to turn her life around. Keep reading to get a glimpse into this engaging first book in the Shamed series, along with my impressions of it, and learn even more by visiting the other blogs hosting this tour. Make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $25 bookstore GC and a digital copy of this book too.
Billionaire on a Budget?!
Confession time! One of the toughest—and most fun—parts of writing Control, was getting myself in the billionaire mindset. My parents were both teachers, so I grew up happy, but with sturdy stainless steel spoons instead of silver. Hubby and I are blessed to live a comfortable life, but with two kids in college and a money-pit of an old house, boatloads of cash would certainly be welcome!
To get myself in the proper billionaire mindset, I had to throw out my every monetary belief. For Liam, the phrase—I can’t afford that—doesn’t exist. Think about that for a second—there’s literally no material object or service he can’t afford. This fact proved tricky in quite a few situations—even theopening premise that his private jet was forced to make an emergency landing. What would make him choose to stay in a small town rather than just chartering a flight home to California? Why did he stay in a shabby motel when he could buy the biggest house in Rose Springs, Arkansas?
The answers to those questions could only be found within Liam, himself. I won’t give any spoilers, but like me, he also wasn’t born with a set of silver spoons.
Once I learned to think like a billionaire, the real fun began! I spent LOTS of Liam’s money. He already had a G-6 jet, but he needed a helicopter for times when traveling by car is just too monotonous. When he does need a car, he drives in style—Bentley, Jag, and Rolls Royce. I next gave him his beloved beach house at Big Sur.
Liam also needed a place to crash when he’s working out of his Palo Alto, California company headquarters. This home is stark, white and modern. Ella hates it, and finds it too cold and impersonal. Liam feels the minimalist décor allows him to think better. If his mind isn’t cluttered by bric-a-brac, then that leaves plenty of space for him to be creative. Here’s a pic:
Liam’s childhood left him with commitment issues, which is why he needs a place for his female companions to stay. But this couldn’t be just any old place—he needed something spectacular. When he first earned serious money, he spent a lot of time traveling. One of his favorite places is Marrakesh, and he worked with a designer to recreate that exotic vibe in the penthouse of his San Francisco apartment building. This pic is of one of the interior courtyards:
One of my favorite spending scenes was Ella’s makeover. Not only did Liam’s assistant find a hairdresser and stylist way after-hours, but racks of pricey clothes and dozens of boots and shoes and designer purses in brands reserved for A-List actresses and billionaire brides—only Ella’s not a bride. Just a highly paid companion. The notion makes her sad, but she enjoys once again feeling pretty.
The largest sum I spent outside of the biggees like the homes and jet, was on jewelry! I won’t say when, but at some point in the story, Liam drapes Ella in sapphires, because they remind him of her blueberry-blue eyes—oh, and he pairs those gorgeous blue stones with plenty of BIG diamonds! I can’t imagine how much of Liam’s money I spent on this scene, but why should I worry? I’m a billionaire, right? At least, when I’m in Liam’s head!
Laura Marie Altom’s heart-stirring new romance will have you believing in the power of love—and passion—to heal even the most wounded souls.
Never again. Fleeing her hometown to escape an abusive marriage, Ella Patton swears she has surrendered to a man for the last time. But while living under a new name, she meets a kind, handsome stranger who seems different—and will be moving on soon, making Ella reckless enough to break her rules. With a kiss, the stranger opens the door to desires Ella believed she would never know. Then he makes an unexpected proposal.
A dot-com billionaire from humble beginnings, Liam Stone is a man whose past has made him compassionate yet guarded—much like the beautiful, secretive woman he stumbles upon in a remote Southern town. Though he intends only a dalliance, when the time comes to return home to San Francisco, Liam cannot bear the thought of leaving her behind. But when he tries to entice her to join him, he finds the tables turning dizzingly fast. Suddenly a little seduction becomes a huge battle for one thing: control.
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MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
From the moment this book started I was excited for the promising combination of Sleeping With the Enemy/Pretty Woman that was depicted. The writing had a nice flow but unfortunately the story got lost along the way with over-the-top scenarios and characters and a main couple that was difficult to connect with.
Both of the characters in this story have issues with giving up control, but for very different reasons. For Liam, he's a rich man who's more often loved for his checkbook than anything else and who grew up feeling unloved and an afterthought. He'd rather be the one leaving instead of getting left and seeks to control every aspect of his life, especially his relationships, through contracts and coldness. When he becomes obsessed with the lost and battered Ella he gets her to sign a contract to be his whenever he wants but from there handles their relationship with cold detachment and hot sex. Theirs is a rocky relationship full of half-truths and hidden emotions until the cliffhanger ending where everything is thrown in doubt with an announcement that really didn't surprise me. Liam was too arrogant and too tightly wound for me to ever warm up to. His past was painful but not near the magnitude of what Ella suffered though he certainly gave the impression that it was which further disappointed me.
Ella never wants to give up control ever again for fear of being hurt. She was brutalized by her husband who relied on his charm and money to keep the truth hidden. With no one to turn to for help, including a family who didn't believe her, she went on the run using a fake identity. Though she's in the middle of nowhere a rich man once again enters her life and she immediately jumps at what he's offering which didn't ring true for me considering her past. It's a rollercoaster romance full of secrets and mistrust that keeps readers on the edge of their seats as the author guides us, and the still emotionally bruised Ella, towards the cliff leaving us screaming. As a heroine Ella isn't too bad. Though she threw herself right back into the fire with the troubled Liam I still admire her leaving her husband. The author's depiction of the abuse was doled out slowly until hitting us vividly in the face with it towards the end to make us even more fearful of what's to come for her with the melodramatic cliffhanger ending.
From its promising beginning to an ending that will leave readers frustrated, it's a tumultuous journey between two lost souls that runs hot and cold. The emotions, both good and bad, are intense and kick you in the gut leaving you bruised along with Ella. Ms. Altom might not have written a perfect starter story to the Shamed series, but it's a compelling one that's hard to put down.
My rating for this is a C.
*I got this book from NetGalley for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
Laura Marie Altom is the author of more than forty books in three different genres. Now that her kids are in college, Laura spends her days writing and chasing after a menagerie of pets: a mini long-haired dachshund named Cocoa, a Yorkie named Daisy, a mutt named Sweet Pea, and Domino—a black-and-white stealth cat she rarely sees. She’s happily married to her college sweetheart (go Hogs!), and when night falls, Laura steals a few romantic moments for herself with her own hunky cover stud.
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