Author: Bronwyn Stuart
Read copy: eBook
Published: November 5, 2016
Publisher: Escape Publishing
In the game of love—and TV—you play to win or you lose your heart.
Millionaire Banjo Grahams originally signed up for She’s The One drunk as a skunk and willing to do anything to bed Australia’s most beautiful women, but when he sobers up he realises he could lose much more than his reputation if he goes through with it. Unable to back out of an ironclad contract, he makes a deal with the network boss to rig the show, picking the lucky bachelorette ahead of time and guiding the season to meet his own ends and keep the board happy.
When her father tells Eliza Peterson she isn’t going to produce She’s The One, but appear as a one of the contestants, she is livid. Competing for some guy on reality TV is no way to earn his—and the network's—respect and show them she is capable of producing shows of her own.
But for all the planning and staging, somehow the show takes on a reality of its own, and the goals of Eliza and Banjo fall away from something neither of them expected—love.
***ARC provided by publisher through NetGalley***
Banjo Grahams agreed to participate on the reality show on a whim. The way he reasoned, it would give him the image of a reformed rake, and get the board of directors of his late father's company, to let go of the reins. Now, sobriety hit, and he wants out. Unfortunately, the contract he signed is ironclad, but he might make a deal with the media house director...Choose the girl in advance, project a happy-ever-after vibe after the show, and then they'd both go their merry way.
Cue the victim: the boss's daughter, Eliza Peterson, who just got bumped from producing the show to starring in it.
Eliza has no intention of participating in the scheme, but it quickly turns out she has no choice. Well, she might have no choice in participating in the show, but she damn well has a choice of maybe trying to set up the idiot male with a suitable companion. There's no way in hell she'd fall for him. He stands for everything she despises...
Pity for them both, love doesn't pick.
I'm on the fence with this book. While I actually liked it at the beginning and up to the middle of it with its unexpected moments of quirkiness, the good feels quickly fizzled once I looked a little deeper. For problems lurked once you went past the surface.
The (main) characters were the biggest issue here, because they were both selfish. Which could be construed as a good thing, since they had that in common. But that's pretty much all they had in common (except, apparently, being lonely). So, they were both selfish, both doing the show for their own reasons, their own hangups. While it's usually the heroine that I find most annoying in such situations, it was the hero that took the cake in this one.
He was selfish, often dipping his toes in the narcissistic pool as well, but he was also all over the place. First, he was glad to be a playboy, didn't find any fault in his lifestyle, loved it to bits, the next instant he was lonely, not having any friends to speak of, the next moment he was putting on the mask of the playboy jetsetter because that was apparently the only way people noticed him...Bla bla bla. Just pick one and roll with it. Mr Consistency he was not. And there was no explanation as to why he was like that. It's not like he had a bad childhood or anything, not like the heroine whose reasons for her hangups were obvious and rather eloquently explained.
The second problem was the romance between these two selfish, self-absorbed individuals. I didn't get it. Probably because I didn't believe it. They had this attraction to one another from the start (which was the only plausible thing in their relationship), then suddenly this attraction blossomed into feelings. Where did those feelings come from? Where did those feelings stem? Why him? Why her? The reader is never shown those tender feeling blossoming, the reason for them, we're just told it happened. Just like that they were in love.
This was quite a "long" story, maybe the most of it could've been spent developing the romance instead of listing all the "fun" activities the bachelor and the contestants did, showing the vapid supporting cast (the father and his "relationship" with Eliza had potential, but he was turned into a caricature of a villain cackling on the sidelines), or spending time in the head of either of the two selfish, self-absorbed individuals.
The writing wasn't bad. I liked the voice, and I really liked the premise, but I didn't like the finished product.