With or Without Him by Barbara Elsborg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I rarely bother reviewing books that receive less than three stars from me - primarily because most one or two star books end up on my DNF pile. But I finished this one just so I could fairly review it after having experienced it in it’s entirety. So buckle up, this will be brief and brutal.
Reading With or Without Him was like being in a conversation with a very imaginative compulsive liar. No part of your brain lends a shred of believability to the tall tale being spun before you, but for a while the words are highly amusing. Your secret, antagonistic side eggs on the conversation in a perverse delight, but after a while boredom sets in and you are left with the decision of waiting until the storyteller runs out of material or “accidentally” spilling your drink on yourself to escape. (I wanted to add my two cents to the reviews so I just poured myself another glass and kept reading). There are multiple points in the conversation where you think Miss Compulsive Liar is about to wrap it up and you will be free to mingle about the party, but, no - she just remembered another bizarre twist in the already preposterous series of events and it looks like you will be sitting through more. (Pours another glass).
Here’s the content rundown:
1. Beware obscenely wealthy one dimensional villain throwing orgy parties featuring questionably youthful, emotionally scarred male prostitutes.
2. A 427 page study on how NOT communicating honestly and openly to your partner leads to absurd and very avoidable drama … everyone knows what they say about assuming …
3. The MC’s separate back stories that attempt to explain why these men are so emotionally scarred are so over the top.
4. The sex started out super HAWT! Good, right? But there was so much of it and it was so repetitive that I began to skim it. That’s right - I SKIMMED SEX SCENES.
5. Enter second wealthy, one dimensional villain. Yep, that’s right - these guys have no luck. (Don’t worry action with this villain is glazed over. Mainly due to the fact that not only is his character underdeveloped, but so is his part in the story arc … as if he were an after thought tossed in).
There is a positive to this book and his name is Wilson. A snarky, charismatic butler, whose character is well developed, articulate and his jests amusing. Why isn’t the rest of the book written as smartly as he?
Okay, wrapping up this diatribe. I scored this book for $1.08 on Kobo and am clearly happy I didn’t pay a cent more. Tyler, Haris - your story started out with potential, amused me some, bored me much, irritated me a bit and reminded me of a few soap operas I haven’t watched in quite some time. I will be recommending others steer clear of your acquaintance.
* Note: THIS IS NOT A BDSM BOOK. The publisher's blurb is misleading. One of the MC's mentions that he had a past penchant for BDSM, but the kink never enters into play between the two MC's. It is a very minor detail of one of the MC's and personally, I do not think it should have been included in the blurb.