Alpha, by Jasinda Wilder


Grade: D+

Doing it at: 65%

Catnip: Well-intentioned Stalkers; Romantic Ownership; Kidnapping; Deep Dark Secrets; Heroines Who React To Creepy Shit Like Literally No One Ever Would; Light Bondage; Butt Stuff; Squirting

Shame Scale: High shame. Cringeworthy dialog, creepy hero. Reading this book definitely hurt my feminist street cred.

Fantasy Casting: Alexander Skarsgard and some blonde

Book Description: 

“The first time it happened, it seemed like an impossible miracle. Bills were piling up, adding up to more money than I could ever make. Mom’s hospital bills. My baby brother’s tuition. My tuition. Rent. Electricity. All of it on my shoulders. And I had just lost my job. There was no hope, no money in my account, no work to be found. And then, just when I thought all hope was lost, I found an envelope in the mail. No return address. My name on the front, my address. Inside was a check, made out to me, in the amount of ten thousand dollars. Enough to pay the bills and leave me some left over to live on until I found a job. Enough to let me focus on classes. There was no name on the check, just “VRI Inc.,” and a post office box address for somewhere in the city. No hint of identity or reason for the check or anything. No mention of repayment, interest, nothing…except a single word, on the notes line: “You.” Just those three letters. 

If you receive a mysterious check, for enough money to erase all your worries, would you cash it? 

I did. 

The next month, I received another check, again from VRI Incorporated. It too contained a single word: “belong.” 

A third check, the next month. This time, two words. Four letters. “To me.” 

The checks kept coming. The notes stopped. Ten thousand dollars, every month. A girl gets used to that, real quick. It let me pay the bills without going into debt. Let me keep my baby brother in school and Mom’s hospice care paid for. How do you turn down what seems like free money, when you’re desperate? You don’t. I didn’t. 

And then, after a year, there was a knock on my door. A sleek black limousine sat on the curb in front of my house. A driver stood in front of me, and he spoke six words: “It’s time to pay your debt.” 

Would you have gotten in?

I did. 

It turns out $120,000 doesn’t come free.”

First page:

“Have a seat, Kyrie”

He said it wrong, as always, pronouncing it Kye-ree.

“My name is Keer-ee,” I couldn’t help correcting him for what must have been the eighteen-thousandth time.

When your book immediately makes me google a Mister Mister song, we’re not off to the best start.

Now then. Jasinda Wilder is a solid B- author in my book. She’s always one to be counted on for a ridiculous plot and solid Alpha men. Her books never knock my socks off, but I find them enjoyable enough. This book tho. The concept was fun, but she didn’t sell the hero well enough to overcome the creepiness. And in terms of consent, I felt like a lot of the book was in a pretty big grey area I wasn’t able to get past.

Kyrie is a young college girl, financially responsible for her mentally ill mother and college-student brother; I never fully understood why her adult brother could not contribute at all, but so it goes in these things. When the book opens, she’s struggling to make ends meet and has just lost a crappy job with a creepy boss. She’s months behind on all of her bills and about to be evicted. She finds a $10,000 check in her mailbox, and cashes it.

I’d probably do the same.

She keeps getting the checks each month, and keeps cashing them. She does not at any point use any of the $120,000 she receives to try to figure out who is sending her this money, by hiring a detective, or even just looking up the company issuing the check with  something like, I don’t know… GOOGLE? Bing maybe? (Is Bing It still a thing?) There is a brief nod to “Oh I can’t read this messy signature,” but she’s not curious enough to use Level I Internet Stalking Skills to look into it. If you can suspend your disbelief for this, then you might enjoy this book.

A year later, a valet shows up and informs her that the debt is being collected, the payment is herself.

Kyrie protests mildly, is told that the choice is to pay back the money or come along, and as that is not really a choice (the money is pretty much gone), she packs a bag and gets in the limo. The valet takes her to NYC, blindfolds her, and delivers her to his employer, Roth. The excuse is that he’s super private, but really, it just felt like a plot device. Anyone with Google could probably have figured out where a years worth of checks were coming from. Anyways, he assures her that he’s not going to force her to have “penetrative” sex with him, that is, until she begs him. He knows almost everything about her because he has had someone following her (and killing would-be attackers lolololol) for several years, and this is insanely creepy but she accepts it pretty easily. Roth then keeps Kyrie blindfolded for about half of the book, and since it’s a romance, her attraction to Roth becomes all-consuming till she is of course, begging him for the D.

And right from the start, there is So. Much. Anal finger-banging. And they don’t bother with any euphemisms. It’s just a straight-up asshole, with a finger in it. No digits, no puckered knot. So, points for bluntness I guess? Here is our hero discussing Kyrie’s reluctance to become emotionally involved.

“I put my finger in your asshole, Kyrie. You don’t get more vulnerable than that. You’re telling me you’d let me do that to you, but you wouldn’t let me make love to you? You’re telling me you don’t want that?”

“I can finger your butt but we can’t MAKE LOVE?”

(Also, make love: I know it’s just a phrase, and every single book uses it, but it’s… kinda cringe-y. Do real people actually say that, and not while goofing around and using silly romance voice? But I digress.)

With most standard romances, they start out with some foreplay, round out the bases, then bring in the butt stuff, but in this one there is so much F in the B before they ever get close to the P in the V, hell, before the blindfold even comes off. It actually felt kind of strange, because they were sticking things up their butts constantly, but never got around to anal sex. Seriously, a book with hilarious lines like this, doesn’t actually have any anal:

“Jesus, Valentine, I haven’t even had coffee yet.” “You don’t need coffee, babe. You just need to take this vibrator up your ass for me.”

And there was this gem, possibly the least appealing line in erotica history:

“His cock was tall and painfully hard, wet with my grool, bobbing as he moved.”

GROOL. (“Please sir, I want some more”) Grool wins the gold medal in the Gross Words For Bodily Fluids Olympics. Sorry Santorum, better luck next time.

All joking about anal fingering aside, my big issue with the book was that it felt a bit rape-y. Roth basically tells her that her choice is to live with him and do whatever he says, or go home and pay him back the money and basically go broke and fail at everything and become a stripper and live a miserable life. That’s not really a choice… And when he pushes her sexually, she frequently says “No,” and then he pushes her to give in with a bunch of “Come on, you know you want it.”

“At every step, with every new thing he asked of me, I fought him. Said no at first, acted like I didn’t want what he intended. Yet I always gave in, always realized I did want it. I did want him.”

“Why have you waited? You said it yourself: You own me. so why not take what is yours?” I watched his eyes, his expression, as he thought about his answer. “Because you deserve better than that. I’ve had a lifetime of meaningless sex. So have you. I want more for you, and from you. I can take a thousand orgasms from you. I can kiss you and touch you and tear your clothes off you, and I don’t need and won’t ask for your permission. But for that? To bring this between us to the next level? I want you to give that to me of your own will. I want to own you completely.”

Cleone and I like our pushy men, but this was too much for me. A man who thinks of you as his property, doesn’t want other men sniffing around, and who would kill anything that harmed you is hot. A man who LITERALLY thinks he owns you and breaks down your psyche until you beg him to stop fingering your asshole without permission and just fuck you already is not.  Coupled with the spidey-sense and arousal smelling, I just wasn’t terribly impressed by this book. The idea was intriguing, but I don’t think she managed to pull it off well enough to overcome the inherent creepiness of the concept. And the dialog was embarrassing and cringeworthy. I’ll leave you with this:

“I traced my fingers over his pectoral muscles, across the ridged wonderland of his abs, and found his manhood. “You have the most amazing cock. For real.”

Text from Cleone: OMG are you reading John Mayer fan fiction???