Review: The Accidental Purchase of Love by Amelia Thorpe

Convinced he will never love again, successful businessman Tom Fletcher has given up any hope of a relationship and, instead, pays for his weekend company. Despite his expectations, he finds himself falling for a particular man and spending more and more time with him. Already struggling to control his emotions, Tom is put forward for a promotion that causes a rival to start digging into his personal life, sending all sense of security he once had spiralling out of control. 

I really hate to lambaste a first time author but there is so much wrong with this book I fear it's unavoidable at this point. I will be using a lot of quotes, probably a gif or 8 and even a little anecdote. Spoiling is likely.

In case you're not interested in reading all the words, the long and the short of it is, I haven't hate a book this much since The Wrong Side of Right. And that's saying a lot.

Long ago I worked closely with a bunch of judges. I was just starting to get into pleasure reading and we were talking about Tom Wolfe. I was reading something or other by him and one of the judges piped up and referred to him as "an equal opportunity bigot". That pithy little remark has stuck with me and kept popping up in my head while reading this book. I'm not sure if this author took a page out of the Wolfe school of thought, but I can tell you that say what you will about Mr. Wolfe, his writing is rock solid. His characterizations are layered and unique even if they are bigots and his stories are engaging. I assure you that is not the case here. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. 

If you're going to have your characters be bigoted and generally distasteful then at least make them interesting or colorful; give them some depth. Both these characters are so shallow that combined they couldn't fill a Dixie cup. The story itself is boorish and overflowing with dull and repetitive dialogue and the entire book is heinously edited. What started off as a run of the mill tale of rent boy/client instalove quickly devolved into over the top soap opera worthy dramatics that served to remove me further and further from identifying with either of these characters. The fact that a story with a rent boy as a main character managed to contain nothing but boring sex is actually the least of my grievances. Shockingly enough.

Since I'm a character person let's start there.

He knows he's smarter than all these people, but it doesn't hurt to listen.

Tom, our lonely Prince Charming, who has at the age of 27 sworn off ever loving again after he lost his boyfriend 9 yrs ago. Tom works for a consulting firm where he's on tap to take over. He despises his job and most of his co-workers but he loves the paycheck. His peer, Samantha, is also in the running to take over and, as you can imagine, he hates her too. In short, Tom is an asshat of the highest caliber. Along with being shallow he's a snob who is condescending, catty and a narcissist. I should have known I wasn't going to like this joker when he said he didn't like champagne. Who hates champagne anyway? And p.s. I'm fully capable of remembering that he hates it. There's no need to tell me again and again and again. 

I have to say I did get the biggest chuckle out of this particular editing gaffe because... Freudian slip anyone?

"I told her that was bollocks cos you asked me to marry me."

He really should just marry himself and save everyone else the trouble of never living up to his lofty expectations or his superior rank.

Tom has been frequenting brothels since his first and only boyfriend died in a freak accident which sounds really sad, but the whole information dump of his storied history with Ryan read like something ripped off the front page of the Enquirer. If you're aiming to gut punch a reader with a tragic past then it's best to inject that past with a modicum of relatability or, at minimum, believability

There's is a classic tale wrong side of the tracks teen love. Ryan, the bad boy who terrorized many with his gang of hoodlums, smoking, drugging and rarely going to class and Tom the straight A nerd who also just happens to be beautiful. One day Tom is chin jerked to meet on the other side of the fence where Ryan promptly takes him home so they can both lose their virginity. No angst. No sweaty palms. No butterflies. No second thoughts. So I really shouldn't have been surprised when Tom in a fit of anxiety(?) word vomits his deflowering to his mother and she takes it in stride. 

*what what*

I don't know about you but my mother would've had a litter of kittens and there likely would've been some sort of intervention wherein I would've been bombarded by how disappointed she (AND THE WHOLE WORLD!) was. The events that followed in Tom and Ryan's relationship became increasingly ridiculous with the end result of Tom swearing off love FOREVER N EVER! Until he meets downtrodden Jaime.

Naturally, Jaime is the spitting image of Ryan and this is used as a flimsy platform for their instalove. Why Jaime falls into the instalove vortex can be solely attributed to the almighty dollar, I mean pound. 

Jaime's character is so utterly confounding that I deemed it the kitchen sink of characterizations. One minute he's saying he's not comfortable with talking to other people? The next he's being clever and charming with Tom's peers and family. One minute he's confident and suave and the next he's insecure and awkward? He says he doesn't know what to do when people are nice to him? I understand the end goal of making a character complex, but that complexity has to make sense and be continuous. 

I was just baffled.

I don't claim to be an expert on sex workers but I do have a healthy interest in some porn stars and I can attest that they may be reserved but they are not shy. They know how to carry on a conversation and they have at least an inkling of charisma. BECAUSE THEY ARE SEX WORKERS!!!!!!! Also, since when do sex workers get to choose whether or not they top or bottom? If you're going to have a sex worker as an MC then it might be prudent to have some knowledge of them. Just a thought. I'm still confounded as to how or why he doesn't consider anything about what he does to be professional. He gets paid a mint by Tom alone; that to me connotes professionalism. I will grant you that he is complete shite at managing said mint, but that's neither here nor there.

"Do you live in a mansion?" Jaime asks.  
"No," Tom laughs, "I live in a flat." 
"Oh," Jamie tries to hide his disappointment. "Is it a nice flat?"

Jaime's backstory, also told in another information dump, is even less credible than Tom's. He left home after his mother turned to the bottle subsequent to her husband's untimely death. He bounced around for some time then stumbled into a crack addict who took him back to a crack den, introduced him to the others who said they would "look out for" him. He considered these people "family". Shortly thereafter they began whoring him out. 

I cannot even articulate how disgusted this whole scenario made me. To blithely gloss over childhood abuse or abuse of any kind in such a dismissive way I found to be insulting and disrespectful. I can assure you there is zero chance of someone surviving this sort of childhood unscathed. Not only is Jaime's history treated in a flip and cavalier manner with him dismissing everything he was subjected to as no big deal, but on top of that it doesn't make any sense! I'm not sure if British crack addicts are different than American crack addicts but generally speaking they whore themselves out FOR MORE CRACK! I have a hard time believing crack addicts are organized enough to launch a child prostitution ring. And what exactly is the point of whoring out underage boys in a crack den other than blatant shock value that packs no punch because he waves it all off as inconsequential?

How someone could justify making such a history of no consequence to their character is a gross misrepresentation of child abuse and its aftereffects not to mention pointless when you divorce it from any real emotion. And if you're going to have a character come out of this sort of background of having not finished school, living on the streets, being subjected to atrocities, etc. then you need to have his speech and thought processes be reflective of that history as well. It's called credence. 

I'm not sure which I was more offended by that Jaime's characterization was completely devoid of anything substantive when there was so much potential or Tom's belittling of... everyone. To add insult to injury, Jaime's made out to be simplistic and Tom being Tom he never fails to remind him of his place. 

"We could have met in a library, reaching for the same book..." 
Tom gives him a very sarcastic look. "No. You're a friend of my sister's."

...he thought that he'd just tell Jamie to stand there and look pretty and not say anything, but really that wasn't an option. 

They won't judge Tom on his boyfriend anyway; as long as Jamie stays quiet and doesn't do anything amazingly stupid, it would probably be okay. Maybe if Jamie is there, he would make it more bearable too, and he would look very gorgeous on Tom's arm, after all.

In their fictionalized and white washed for the parents/peers relationship Jaime is a writer who's independently wealthy and all of the "relationship" building, if you can call it that, is cockamamie. They keeping seeing each other on a professional basis despite saying "I love you" every chance they get, declaring they're in a relationship, having Jaime's financial accounts forwarded to Tom's address and getting him a new passport(?) [why the hell he needed a passport to begin with if he's only ever been whored out by crack addicts or worked in skeevy brothels is beyond me. I seriously doubt they're sending him to Zurich for weekend trysts.] all in an effort to get him "ready" for a work holiday party. I found it all to be a feeble attempt at a Cinderfella tale. Why keep paying? Why keep charging him? Jaime only sees him and they spend most of their time together.

No one spends every waking moment with their partners.

...not when they're paying them they don't.

This Cinderfella story comes with an abusive Prince Charming and is not engaging; it's trite and derogatory. Both characters are loathsome, manipulative, shallow and spiteful bigots.

She isn't that pretty; he thinks her small features make her appear rodent-like, and the hair and the eyelashes-she has kids for God's sake-didn't it all reek of trying far too hard? She's going for head of the company, not Britain's Next sodding Top Model.

Every time there was an opportunity for depth or to engage the reader it was brushed aside in favor of superficiality. 

He knows he's picked the most expensive one, but really Jamie deserves nothing less than the best. And nothing says security better than a platinum band with six diamonds in it.

And the editing was non-existent. 

This relationship should be kaput inside 6 mos and Jaime will have half of Tom's assets to blow through inside a year but at least he'll have some bling to look at and maybe, just maybe his next sugar daddy will be slightly less conceited and far less abusive. Tom will probably develop a drinking problem. Not on champagne, of course, and inform all far and wide they he will never love again. For a couple years. Then fall in love with someone in rehab who he can continually remind how he pulled him from the gutter and how grateful he should be for it. Best of luck to the both of them.

I'm certain someone will love this book maybe even because of all the reasons I've listed, but there's nothing I can think of to recommend it. I wish the author good luck in her future endeavors. 

A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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  1. Oh Cupcake. A thorough review...and quite the experience. I felt like I read it with you. *gulp*

    1. No apologies necessary. It summed up your feels pretty well, IMO. :)