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.
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*
You know when you read a book and it’s like coming up to a big hill and then wheeeeeee…it all goes crashing down. This was my experience with CONTROL. It had all the hallmarks of a good, cracky read with the Cinderella tale of a down-on-her-luck heroine called Ella, who uses a fake identity to escape from an abusive marriage and a tech billionaire, with a name to fit, called Liam Stone who is instantly intrigued by her. But other than this initial promise the book failed to live up to expectations and that is due to the tropes which was overwrought, messy and got way too angsty and really did not make any sense.
I really liked the beginning with the first meeting between Liam and Ella/Julie; it was sweet and cute and just a bit awkward and I thought this would set up the tone for their romance. I am a huge sucker for this premise. However, as the story progressed, the usual tropes with this form of romance of the tortured billionaire and equally messed up past of the heroine cropped up, and frankly it got really too wangsty and confusing for me. Instead of a patient prince-charming hero, we got a bit of an arsehole of a hero with Liam, who decides to literally throw money and credit cards (the really exclusive ones) at Ella. And it’s all to impress her. I found this scene really insulting and it was a total 180 with how he reacted and thought with the earlier scenes with Ella. And despite knowing she had deep centred issues and an abusive past, Liam felt he could sweep her off her feet by throwing money and his status when he unveils he is a billionaire to her. Liam offers her a contracted offer to pay her for her time and to take her to San Francisco to live in a paid apartment which he will provide. Ella, understandably, is reluctant to accept and is a freaked out from the sweet and tender man who helped her out when she had a panic attack (due to her memories of her abuse) to be replaced by an arrogant billionaire who assumes his money can literally buy her.
Nonetheless, her friend, Willow, who I found extremely annoying, managed to persuade her to take Liam’s offer in being his paid contracted lover. She also joins in for the ride, and then commences into an orgy of drug fueled partying, and apartment wrecking. Liam suddenly develops cold feet because he can’t handle his strong and confusing feelings for Ella, so he hides in Australia for a few weeks and ignores all contact from her.
I was actually glad that Ella finally grew a backbone and left him before he arrived back to the city and her ditzy and irritating friend, who was still living large on Liam’s money and home. I liked that Ella found a new job and an apartment, even though one of her other friends from her old town shows up–and of course he has a crush on her–and ends up sharing the apartment with him. Even though Ella found him safe and nice, it got tiring for me with this unrequited love plot because it felt a forced. I did prefer him to Liam who would blow hot and cold with Ella, which didn’t make any sense because there was no real build up to his whiplash behaviour and it was so sudden.
But I really got frustrated with the plot and the characters when Liam finally makes a move when something really tragic happens with Willow (I did not feel any sympathy for this character at this point because she was one dimensional and grating for me). This causes more forced angst and drama with this weird back and forth relationship between Ella and Liam. When you actually think there is some momentum with their romance happening, more shit happens which sets them back. I found this really exhausting to read and I got really tired and lost interest with the book and with the characters.
I was actually sad and disappointed because there is a good story somewhere with the confusing and messed up characterisation, and forced drama plot. There was a lack of growth with the characters; there was no build up towards their feelings and they would play hot and cold and then back to hot for no real reason. I was literally left confused with their behaviour and actions because it just did not make any sense. I also did not buy the reasons for Liam’s dark past to act so crazy, especially when Ella had deep rooted issues and was a victim for domestic abuse. He really came across as a spoiled immature brat, and I did not find him heroic or sexy in any way. I also found the serious issues which was raised in the book were not dealt with realistically. I especially was left confused with how Liam would behave with someone so skittish and think he could win her over, although he did give her space, but his erratic behaviour was not a good sign. I was also not comfortable with him trying or wanting to save lost or broken people. He had a history of being drawn to helping and fixing them and then leaving them because of his own past issues with mental and emotional abuse and abandonment.
Yet, when you think they actually have some movement (FINALLY) with the romance, the book ends on a cliffhanger which gives the suggestion that it will be all the fault of Ella with the clues to Liam’s response towards his question. I was at this point,left disgusted because did he not realise and fully comprehend the situation she was in, which she clearly explained. He did not look into her past, which he promised he would, but instead ran away for a month and ignored her but relished with his own angst. I prefer books which have the protagonists work their issues out together, even though they have problems or facing huge threats.
There was none of that in CONTROL. It had all the tropes which this premise, which is well known for angsty dark pasts and a billionaire hero with control issues. But the themes were handled clumsily and by the time it was covered, more forced angst was piled on top of other issues. And while I liked Ella was starting to embrace her own agency, she does a few things that takes those few steps back and I wasn’t fully keen on Liam because I found him off putting with his actions with money, and blowing hot and cold with no build up. I didn’t particularly find him heroic for most of the book.
Overall, I wished this was a book that I enjoyed but sadly it didn’t work for me, and maybe it’s partially due to the tropes because they’re getting tired. If you like a really dark angsty read then this is the book for you. But I may give the sequel a miss or wait for the reviews to see how this is all resolved because I would have liked how Ella would have faced her abusive husband and whether they really get over their issues instead of dragged out drama.
Sadly this book wasn’t for me and I give CONTROL a D+/C-