Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Book Review: The Silver Chain (Unbreakable, #1) by: Primula Bond
My Review: I'm going to try not to let this review turn into a full blown rant, but I can't promise anything. I really dislike giving a book anything lower than 3 stars because no matter how I feel, I try to always keep in the back of my mind that this story is someone's baby, something they poured time and effort into. But I am nothing if not honest, and sadly, there are so many things I found wrong with The Silver Chain by Primula Bond. Riddled with contradictions, awkward wording/scenarios, and a hero/heroine that were down right unappealing and unsympathetic, I'm still in shock that this book is being compared to the likes of Sylvia Day's sizzling Crossfire series. Yes, it does share the formula: a younger woman leaves behind a troubled past by moving to a big city to also attempt to make it on her own. Millionaire, dominant older man with a dark side meets said younger woman and wants total possession, ownership, etc. But that is where the similarities end and not all for the good.
Here is what I did like. Since so many erotic novels are following in the footsteps of series like 50 Shades of Grey and Crossfire, the actual setting of The Silver Chain was quite refreshing. The majority of the story takes place in London, England, on a completely different continent from which I am used to reading about. The author, Primula Bond, is also from the UK and it is quite noticeable in her writing which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it did come with some challenges, such as learning different words like "skint" which means not having much money. And not laughing when the author uses "knickers" instead of panties, etc.
I also liked that the book's hero, Gustav Levi, is the owner of an art gallery. Yes, he is an entrepreneur, but the main focus of the novel centers around the Levi gallery. It's a nice change from other book millionaire heroes that we know. The art aspect of the novel was just about the only thing I could truly relate to. I not only minored in Art History in college, but I also interned at an art gallery so it was nice to delve back into that world.
So here is what I had issues with, starting with our main characters. I didn't like Serena at all. I give her a lot of credit for rising above her horrific childhood, but that's about the only compliment I can give her. I thought she was immature, selfish, and a bit hypocritical. There are so many examples to prove my point, but the biggest one is how she treats Gustav when it is his turn to try to find closure from his troubled past. Once she makes the deal with Gustav, she travels back to her village to finish selling her childhood home that held so many troubled memories for her. She also spies on her ex-boyfriend, Jake, having sex with another woman and takes photos of the encounter. She even meets up with him later-- my point is, she went back to find some closure for herself. After spending some time with Gustav and learning that many of his control and trust issues stem from his horrible marriage, he asks Serena to travel with him to the estate he shared with his ex-wife, Margot, in Switzerland to find closure. He didn't have to do that. He could have left her. But he trusted her to go with him, needing her support. Serena is even told by people that are close to Gustav (Crystal and Dickson) that she is the first girl he has ever taken back there, that this was a huge deal for him, and to try to be patient. So you would think she would go with an open mind, right? Nope, instead she flips. The very first day they arrive, actually. Serena sees the chapel where Gustav and his ex-wife Margot got married and literally freaks out. Really??? Why??? She knew by going with him that she was going to be seeing things that Gustav shared with his ex-wife. So why is it such a shock when she sees the chapel they got married in??? Serena yells at him, runs away-- makes it about her instead of giving him a chance to even try to find closure.
Gustav Levi just didn't do it for me as a hero. This could partially be the way he is described which would be the author's doing. Primula Bond has a habit of describing things that are supposed to come across as sexy but just doesn't work. Here is an example: "...the subtle flex in his forearm as he twirls his swizzle up and down his fingers like a cheerleader's baton." Umm, okay? Like comparing him in any way to a cheerleader is supposed to make him more manly? If anything it is a turn off. Also, the majority of the novel Gustav either spends hooking Serena to him with the silver chain (which totally annoyed me, I'll get to that later) or disappearing without letting her know where he's gone off to. He is more controlling than he is dominant which are two completely different things. I think the thing that bothered me the most about Gustav is that he didn't show much concern for Serena when it was really needed. Prime example is when they are horseback riding. Serena falls off her horse and injures her ankle really bad. By the time he figures out what happened, instead of kneeling down beside her to check on her ankle, he just stands there! She's literally in tears and asks him to help bind her ankle or take her to a doctor. What does Gustav do? He asks her if she wants to go get some hot chocolate. Umm, WHAT??? Oh, it gets better. When Serena stupidly agrees (totally makes no sense if she is that hurt) instead of picking her up and carrying her, he just walks slowly next to her while she hobbles. WTF? Wow, what a freakin' gentleman.
My other major issue is the slew of contradictions or inconsistencies throughout the book. I'm going to try to go through a few of the ones that stood out the most. 1) Serena accidentally left her camera after her first meeting with Gustav. We listen in on the phone call when he tells her where to meet him to pick up the camera. When she arrives, Gustav says, "You told me to guard it with my life, and that's exactly what I did...I told you I had a proposition for you, so I'll get straight to the point." What??? During their phone conversation she NEVER said to guard her camera with his life NOR does he mention anything about a proposition. 2) During their first sexual encounter, he asks her, "Please would you kneel down, Serena." Her response: "Hands and knees, you say? You want me to scrub the floor now?" What??? He told her to KNEEL, not to get on her hands and knees! 3) When Gustav arrives at the opening night of Serena's gallery exhibit, his, "...black hair is slicked back like the Godfather, making him look positively sinister and intimidating." A few pages later his, "dark hair falls against his eyebrow." So WHICH IS IT? Slicked back hair or loose in his face??? 4) The next morning after her sprained ankle incident, Serena wakes up to find that she must have been undressed in the middle of the night. She fantasizing about both Gustav and Dickson (Gustav's driver). She wonders, "Did the men undress me together?...Did they grow hard looking at me, dare the other to make a macho remark about the sleep of the innocent or did they deny the bulge in their trousers?...Did they have their way, the two of them exploring me with tongues and fingers and other parts..." Several pages later, Serena is looking through Gustav's telescope and sees Dickson kissing a woman. Her response? "Eww. Think I'll leave them to it." What??? She just fantasized about Dickson taking advantage of her in her sleep yet she is disgusted by him when she sees him kiss another woman??? It just totally doesn't make sense.
My last gripe is with the silver chain. I was first okay with it. This is obviously not my first book where the male character wants to mark his woman in some way, or to wear something that shows she belongs to him. I've read previous novels where men have made women wear collars, nipple clamps, even butt plugs all day. So I figured the silver chain between Serena and Gustav would be the same thing. At first it starts in private. He makes her wear a bracelet that is nearly impossible to get off, hooks the chain to it, and holds the other end to basically control the distance between them depending on his mood. Okay, I can deal with that. What totally turned me off and made it feel somewhat unbelievable was: 1) During opening night of her exhibit in a room full of people he hooks the chain up and tugs her around! I don't give a crap that the chain was so thin that you could barely see! It just doesn't seem realistic at all. Isn't it enough that she is wearing the bracelet? Isn't that symbolic enough? 2) Serena wakes up to find Gustav gone (yeah, like I said, he disappears all the time) and when she gets up off the bed, she notices that he had attached a longer chain on her wrist. Wait, get this. The chain is not only attached to her wrist, but to the wall and is so long that she can basically walk around the majority of the house. But essentially she is bound to the house and is unable to get dressed since she is attached to the chain. WTF! That's supposed to be a turn on??? I honestly don't blame her for breaking loose!!!
The Silver Chain is the first novel in a long time that I just wanted to stop reading, but because I had an obligation to review it, I forged ahead. It had an interesting premise and hey, any erotic romance being compared to Sylvia Day's Crossfire series is definitely worth a shot. But sadly, the story was a hot mess, filled with contradictions and characters that I honestly couldn't wait to forget. Gustav can't even light a candle next to the likes of Gideon (Crossfire series), Gabe and Jace (Breathless series), or Remington (Real, Raw, & Ripped series). These men would eat Gustav up and spit him out. And while I get the symbol of the silver chain, Primula Bond went a bit overboard with it. I don't think I will be reading any more books in this series but all I can hope is that the author hires some beta readers or finds a better editor to help point out the inconsistencies before any future novels are published.