Review: Beyond the Velvet Rope

Harlequin Kimani Press
July 2014
Jennifer Brathwaite |  RATING: D 
SYNOPSIS: Ever since the tragedy that tore through his life, Mason Foley guards his heart, never letting any woman get too close. Yet the gorgeous, independent Sabrina Crawford is perfect for a sizzling fling, even if she does seem resistant to his charms. He'll just have to turn up the heat, igniting a longing the hard-to-get wedding photographer can't resist.

Thandie Shaw, one of the best club promoters in New York City, is encouraged by a friend to apply for a job in Miami marketing the reopening of a remodelled nightclub.  After getting past her initial hesitation, Thandie applies, only to be told she will not be hired due to her gender.  Thandie, determined not to be dismissed so easily, becomes relentless in her efforts to get the position.  Eventually her tenacity is rewarded; she is offered the job and, with two of her assistants, temporarily moves to Miami.  Once she arrives in the city she comes to realize her biggest test is one she didn’t expect - dealing with business tycoon and club owner, Elliot Richards.  Although Elliot initially didn’t want to hire Thandie, once she arrives he decides to enjoy himself and makes it clear that he doesn’t just want her expertise in business but in his bed.  He aggressively pursues Thandie until he catches her but instead of seizing someone to be a bed partner he might have found the woman who is the right match for him.

Without question the setting of BEYOND THE VELVET ROPE is the strongest aspect of the book.  Miami in general and Elliot’s club, Club Babylon, in particular are well-described.  The reader is given much detail into which to sink their teeth that relays the spiciness and vibrancy of the tropical city.  Babylon is depicted as a sight to behold; a once in a lifetime experience to enjoy.  Ms. Ashley’s writing creates a lushly decadent and exciting environment worthy of everything one would imagine the hottest nightclub in town to be.

Unfortunately, beyond the setting is where anything complimentary I can say about the story ends.  The dialogue in the book is not good.  Most of what the characters have to say either has no bearing on the story, or reveals no more about the speaker than what the reader is told upon their introduction.  The same can be said for many of the characters in the book themselves.  All of Thandie’s assistants are one-dimensional which is also true of the majority of Elliot’s staff.  That might be tolerated, if not excused, if they at least served a purpose other than their title in the story, i.e., if they revealed something about the central players.  For the most part, however, that is not the case.

With regard to the main characters, they are the most glaring failures of BEYOND THE VELVET ROPE.  Never have I encountered a more repugnant hero as Elliot Richards or a more pathetic heroine as Thandie Shaw.  Elliot is preposterously misogynistic and disrespectful in both word and deed.  Thandie talks a big game about how she’s going to conduct herself with Elliot and what liberties she will allow him to take but not only does she never back up her words with action, after a while, she starts to encourage his behaviour.  There is almost nothing redeeming or endearing about either person.  As a result, it is almost impossible for the reader to become invested in their union.

I cannot remember a time when it was more of a struggle to finish reading a book. At five hundred and thirty nine pages on my e-reader this tome is overloaded with scenes and story sidebars that have almost no function in the narrative except, in some cases, for cheap titillation. On several occasions, time is spent on how Thandie’s assistant in New York, Amanda, is in way over her head but nothing is ever done about it nor does it affect the story.  The incident between Elliot and Thandie in The Tower of Club Babylon is a moment that neither reveals anything salient or interesting about the leads.

Further, BEYOND THE VELVET ROPE cannot be called a romance novel as there is no romance in the text.  Elliot never attempts to woo or romance Thandie. He never treats her with respect, never even says a kind word or shows her any caring consideration until page three hundred and eighteen, and even that is being generous.  Perhaps
, if I harboured domination and disrespect fantasies, was given to false indignation and could fall in lust and then in love with a man who in all encounters treated me as property and as a sexual amusement, I could appreciate this book.  With none of that being the case for me, this novel is an absolute pass.

20th July 2014 |