Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review: Counsellor by Celia Aaron

Series:  Acquisition #1
Pub. Date:  Sept. 28, 2015
Publisher:  Self-Pub
Pages:  209
Source:  Kindle Unlimited

I got drawn in by the cover of this book when I recognized the Oak Alley Plantation. I was even more stoked when I saw that it was set in New Orleans, as I don't think I have ever read a dark romance set here. Unfortunately, this story didn't work for me.

First, a little peeve of mine is when a story is set in America but uses British English spellings. The only word spelled in the British fashion was Counsellor (v. Counselor), but as the title and it being mentioned several times in the story, it was noticeable. And, as an attorney myself, it just stuck in my craw a little more. Plus, we don't really use the word counselor that much when referring to attorneys/lawyers.  Anyway, I digress.  On to the review.

Sinclair Vinemont is the very definition of an anti-hero. He really seemed like more of a villain to me. He took part in the Acquisition Trials along with the other scumbag members of the "elite" society in this fictional New Orleans. The goal is to win the trial with your "chosen" Acquisition so you can become the grand pooba (I forget what they called the leader) and get to rule over this particular class of society.  So how is your Acquisition "chosen" - well basically its human trafficking.  They are stealing someone away by either force, blackmail or some other form of coercion and they will be defiled, debased, humiliated, raped, injured and scarred for life during the trials. Oh, all this is happening while a bunch of rich pompous asshats watch and engage in orgies. I didn't like Sinclair, and I didn't see any way for him to be redeemed. I am a bit surprised by all the 5 star reviews and people who loved him as a dark tortured hero. I just didn't see it. I don't feel like we had enough character development or back story to make any meaningful connection to him, so I just saw him as a rich sadistic bastard.

Then we have our "heroine" for lack of a better word, Stella Rousseau, a naive inexperienced daughter of a white collar criminal. Stella is blackmailed into the Acquisition contract, having to choose to either sign, or watch her father be killed in prison. I really felt sorry for Stella at first because, man, what a horrible situation she was put in. But then she just became one of those TSTL heroines for me. Her attraction to Sinclair felt forced and just, well, icky. I am one of those readers that puts myself in place of the heroine... and I just can't see myself being in any way willing to go there with someone who had ruined my/her life so completely. 

So while I am normally a fan of the stories that provide a good mindfeck... this one was not for me. It didn't seem like any kind of erotic romance or dark romance to me, it seems more like an erotic horror story. I am a bit curious about how things end up... but I am not sure I am curious enough to keep reading. I know this is a popular book with the other reviewers so I am sure that some people will love it for the reasons that I did not.