Rating: 2.75 stars
Billionaire Garrett Shiffler glances up from the craps table to see good looking young man watching him as he played. The young stranger brings Garrett luck at the tables as well as turns him on. Garrett is determined to take him to bed, and what Garrett wants, Garrett gets.
Randal Jones of Memphis, Tennessee is in Las Vegas for the weekend when he spies a gorgeous and obviously wealthy man at the craps table. Their eyes meet and Randy is unable to move from his spot, frozen by instant desire. When hunger causes his stomach to rumble, the man laughs, introduces himself as Garrett and hauls him off for food and sex. After a weekend of intense sex, both men start to wonder at the deeper feelings they have for one another. Randy can’t believe someone like Garrett could fall for an average guy like him and runs home to Memphis without so much as a note or goodbye. Garrett believes Randy is the one for him but where does Randy live and what is his full name? Is it true love that binds them both? Between Cupid and romance lies the answer for Randy and Garrett.
Priceless is the first book for author M. A. Church and has some lovely qualities that make it a nice read at 99 pages. However, that said, Priceless contains quite a few problems that I would contribute to an author just beginning their craft. The plot is one that anyone familiar with generic love stories will recognize. The very rich man, scornful of those who would love him for his money and status, meets someone who argues with him. The younger person/man/girl of lower status doesn’t care about money, and runs from him. Then the rich man has to chase the person down, woo them and live happily ever after. It takes an author of skill to elevate this common plot line, but Church needs more experience to deliver it here.
The characters of Garrett and Randy are pretty generic and the author has not given them her own twist to make them more interesting. Randy seems to spend an inordinate amount of time weeping over a lost weekend after he has left Las Vegas. Garrett is too much the stock arrogant persona. We never get a real basis for their actions in the story because we lack a foundation upon which we can build a belief in these characters. We are told they fall in love but only get an abundance of sex scenes, not ordinarily a bad thing but when used in place of plot and depth, then it is no substitute. Garrett tells us everyone wants him for his money and yes, he can act like an arrogant ass (that we do believe) but why does Randy see anything different in him?
Instantaneous love rears its head here, although Church uses poor Cupid as the supposed basis for Garrett and Randy’s “instalove”. The author has Cupid appearing throughout the story and then promptly dispels his participation as the cause of the love at first sight. Cupid and his arrow is one of those “deus ex machina” that tells me the story is in trouble from the beginning. It’s too “cute” and not needed if you have a good plot to begin with.
The dialog between the men becomes an issue too. One character tells Garrett to “cool your jets”, an older phrase that seemed out of place. Then Randy tells Garrett to “I can’t wait to have your dick stretching my channel”, more than once. Such odd terminology in the heat of passion was just perplexing. Try shouting it out like you mean it and you will understand my reaction. The author seemed to be trying too hard in searching for terms and descriptions. This sentence is the perfect example. “Their shirts hit the floor like discarded scratch tickets.” Scratch tickets? In another scene perhaps, but not when conveying clothes flying off due to crazed lust.
The first book can be a hard book for an author in many ways. Inexperience, lack of critique partners, structure and editing issues are often apparent. When they do pop up, I always hope that the author’s love of writing shines through as well. It does here. M. A. Church has talent so I will be looking forward to her next book. And as for Priceless? Not a bad way to spend some time if you happen upon it as a free read but I wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.
Cover: Catt Ford has done a great job with the hot Las Vegas cover.