Hey what's up hello, dear. Fancy to see you here. Except, honestly, fancy to see me here. I haven't showed up on this blog in two months (yikes!) and before that, I only popped up periodically. I plan to change this prolonged absence of mine this summer, but for now, onto the book review.
-- Also, big thank you to Nadine for mailing this baby over to me in the nick of time :)
Exposure To A Billionaire
Published June 7, 2016 by Morgan James Publishing
Genre: Fiction, Adult
Links: Goodreads, Amazon
Other Work: --------
Anna St. James has had jet fuel in her veins since she was a little girl, lying out on blanket with her sister and her father watching planes fly by. So it was no surprise that love led her to ... It was a surprise, however, that it led her to the luxurious private plane of billionaire Stuart Manning. A crisis lands Anna the gig of her dreams - personal flight attendant to the second richest man in the world, a salary that triples that of any airline employee, and a life that leaves her jet-setting around the world. But all that glitters is not without it's price in gold, and Anna wonders if she's willing to pay it.
All of My Thoughts
It seemed fitting that our last book for Literary Ladies - we're taking a hiatus - was our first ARC (not to mention that the book club started around this time two years ago! Happy 2nd birthday, Literary Ladies!). Sadly, it wasn't the best read. Before I launch fully into all of my thoughts, let me first say this: writing is hard, ya'll. Writing in general is and writing a book is even harder. And finishing a book? Well, damn, so few of us do it, it's damn near impossible. I'm struggling through drafting my own as I type. So first and foremost, congratulations to Ann Menke for thinking up, drafting, meticulously editing and sending her book out into the world. It's no easy task. And it's knowing how hard book writing is that makes me sad and uncomfortable to report I did not enjoy Exposure To A Billionaire.
Exposure To A Billionaire had an interesting premise, but in my humble opinion it did not deliver. Within the first few pages, I knew that the writing style wasn't for me. It was a bit reminiscent to Gossip Girl, but not as strong. It suffers from a case of "show, don't tell." I'm told to love the characters because they are lovely, but I don't really see it. I'm told that all these adventures are happening, but I don't feel like I'm seeing that either. The entire book reads like that transition paragraph that writers use to move from one moment to the next, quickly brushing over the happenings. Like the montage part of the movie. I dig a good montage, a good montage will bring me to tears. But we never dip back into the story so it doesn't work. We never actually feel like we've living in it, but rather just skimming off the top layer. As a result, I felt disconnected to the characters and what was happening to them.
And, for me, the biggest downfall of this novel was the characters. I didn't like Anna. Within the first few pages, she has to deal with a terrible flyer who accidentally glues her eyes shut and Anna responds flippantly with a whole lot of annoyance. I get it, we are in Anna's head and this other woman was being a complete asshat, but I repeat: Superglue. Eyes. It is such a dangerous situation that I'd think a compassionate person could set aside her annoyance. Once I set aside my first impression of Anna, I still found that there was a lack of substance to the characters and the connections between them. Very little is fully fleshed-out. For example --- MINOR SPOILER --- there's a moment in the middle of the novel when Anna tells the reader that she and her love interest "shared their lives over the phone...", but we see none of that at all. A few pages prior, she didn't even have his number. We get a random clip during which homeboy showers her with compliments and professions, but that's it. So at this point, my thoughts (via my notes) are legit: "How Jean? How? I need to know how you build a legitimate connection on the heels of a random note left at hotel front desk and a few well-placed compliments? Also who are you again? In Anna's haste to fall in love approximately 4.5 seconds after ending a seven year relationship, I've simply forgotten that you have a personality at all. --- END MINOR SPOILER --- In fact, most of the character interaction is bizarre. Here's how it went:
- Anna and her pilot co-workers: I'm just so happy for your happiness. Soooo happy omg so happy you're like my brother and I'm so happy.
- Anna and her billionaire employer: Thank you for everything you do. Thank you for doing the job I pay you exorbitant amounts of money to do. Thank you for existing. Thank you for breathing. How amazing that you breathe! You are/will be the most amazing (insert title here), I just know it because look how you breathe.
- Anna and her love interest: I love you so much, you are just so beautiful, I've never felt this way before. I just love you so much. I want to spend the rest of my life with you because I love you soo
The story is very much brought down by these characterizations, weighing down what might have been a better plot and setting. It's not that I hate love or I don't like people who get along, but it makes the characters read unrealistic. There is no tension anywhere, like a stretched out rubberband, fully extended by all the love floating around and never snapping back into place. And towards the end, when events begin to happen, Anna conveniently blacks out so we as readers get none of the action and everything relayed to us after the fact like a breaking news report.
Also, there's a small gripe that I have to address. Perhaps, I only noticed it based on personal experiences, but Menke's novel is very white-washed. And that's fine. The lack of diversity is a industry-wide issue, not just specific to this book. However, the only characters in the novel that were of color were the bad guys, terrible guys, guys that Anna says "disgusted [her] so much [she] could spit on them". And here's the thing: why. Why, in story where everyone else is so beautiful and so lovely and so amazing just inside and out, are the only black people vile and disgusting through and through? I'm sure it wasn't purposeful or hateful or suggestive, but it was there. And honestly, it was insulting. It made me want to stop reading and had I not been nearly done already, I would have.
Menke does do a decent job of describing the surroundings, the grandeur of all these amazing cities that Anna is lucky enough to fly to. It's bogged down a bit by the "telling" writing, but it's there. Maps are peppered throughout based on travel to places as expected as Venice, London, and Paris, as well as the unexpected Geneva, Bologna, and Cairo. It added a nice touch to the chapters and made it easier to remember where in the world we were. Every now and then, I got the sensation of being whisked away which I'm sure was the intention and exactly how Anna felt. Also Menke's 25+ years in corporation aviation shows in the best possible way. She describes the planes, the mechanics of flying even the job of being a personal attendant in a manner that makes it intriguing. This aspect didn't save the story nor was it enough to overcome the other pitfalls but it gave it a bit of interest.
Getting to the Point
Did you read with us this month? What were your thoughts?
Well, we are taking a bit of a break this summer. We plan to iron out some details and return in the fall with a reading challenge. But thank you to everyone who has read along with us, participated and commented over the past 2 years. It's been damn fine time <3