Alpha by Jasinda Wilder
Overall Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sultry Scale: 4 of 5 flames
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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.
The blurb (above) offers a good teaser of what this book will be about. It pretty much summarizes the first chapter. The story is told from the POV of our female lead, Kyrie, a bit of a tortured soul, who has been having a rough go-of-it for the last 7 years. At a low point, the mysterious checks start coming in the mail. The synopsis poses a good question - would you cash the check? I have to say that I probably would - but I would probably obsess over it for a while, do as much research as I could, then let the money sit in the bank until I was absolutely desperate. Now, in real life, would the checks lead to a knight in shining armor riding in to save the day on his white steed? Not in my life, my benefactor is more likely to be a fucktard in tinfoil on a donkey. But - that's my lot in life and probably the driving force behind my reading habit.
Anyhoo, Kyrie finally meets her patron, Valentine Roth, only to learn that he has a huge secret that will change their relationship. The foreshadowing here pretty much gives away the plot (what little there was).
As far as the characters go, I did not identify much with Kyrie and I never got a clear picture of her in my head. I know that she must have amazing hair because it apparently looked great no matter whether she had been swimming in the ocean, or went to sleep with it soaking wet. As a curly girl with a head full of spirals - I had to automatically hate her for that. If I go to sleep with my hair wet, I wake up with something resembling a giant bird's nest. Hair aside, I did like that she was outspoken and seemed to put her thoughts out there (when compared to a character like Anastasia Steele who was more apt to have an inner monologue than communicate with Christian Grey).
I liked Valentine Roth as a character, and at first cast him in my head as a Jason Lewis... but later in the book he is compared to Alexander Skarsgard, so my perception altered a bit. Although I liked Roth, I didn't feel like we ever got to know him.
In fact, once Kyrie and Roth actually met, they couldn't stay out of bed long enough to let the plot develop. There were numerous sexcapades, all very detailed and lengthy. The author really got descriptive here, but wasn't overly vulgar or raunchy. <Kudos for sneaking the word "pudendum" in... and getting me to google it. Yikes!> So the steam factor was good - there was just a bit too much of it (gasp). It seems like the lengthy sex scenes hindered the plot development. I would have liked to see the relationship develop more between Kyrie and Valentine.
All-in-all, the book was okay - but it didn't leave me satisfied. I would compare it to Fifty Shades with less story and character development. Fortunately, the second book in the series is already out, and it sounds like Beta will be a much more interesting book.