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Monday, October 21, 2013

ARC Review: Connectivity by Aven Ellis


I must confess that when the first word I read in Aven Ellis’s CONNECTIVITY was ‘My’, I nearly turned tail and ran. First-person narratives still conjure up my only DNF read in recent memory involving a certain sparkly vampire and make me remember the brain cells I lost reading that train wreck trilogy starring a certain broody, supposedly-into-kinky-sex billionaire. Even after reading and having thoroughly enjoyed the The Hunger Games trilogy and the Crossfire series, both of which are told from a first-person POV. But I’m glad I soldiered on past my initial gut-level rejection, because CONNECTIVITY is a delightful lighthearted romantic comedy with a truly swoon-worthy British hero and a hilarious heroine.

As an avid reader of romantic suspense and thrillers, my major gripe with contemporaries is that NOTHING HAPPENS; the focus is solely on the hero and heroine, and they—and their relationship—makes or breaks the story. CONNECTIVITY is very much a contemporary in this respect: every page is devoted to the protagonists, British mogul William Cumberland and klutzy Midwesterner Mary-Kate (MK—indeed named after the Olsen twin) Grant, and the slow build of their relationship. And it is slow, but that makes it feel real given their personalities, their ages (particularly MK’s), and their reservations about serious relationships. As readers, we witness every step of their relationship, from MK as a single career-focussed woman to the meet-cute to the development of deeper feelings from an instantaneous attraction to the unsurprising HEA denouement. There are no dark, twisted pasts or significant angst and only just a touch of drama at the end, which makes for a sweet and fluffy read that—thankfully—will have you feeling warm and fuzzy inside but without the need to check for cavities. Sex is dealt with more directly than in other sweet contemporaries I’ve read but still happens off-page, but this fits organically with the story since the physical aspect of the relationship is only one of the many layers that are solidly built as the book progresses.

While the storyline in CONNECTIVITY isn’t particularly original in the face of all the sexy billionaire heroes that populate romance nowadays and the boss-and-assistant plot, it really works because of its delightful characters. I rather liked MK: she’s spunky, strong, sassy, and hell-bent on being a career woman and never depending on a man (unlike the women in her family). She’s klutzy, a bit of a hothead, and endearing and real, and the way she thinks she knows exactly what she wants out of life and is willing to work for it makes her incredibly relatable. Her head is a hilarious place to be, and her sharp wit and keen observations (tempered with just the right amount of new-adult immaturity) make her the perfect narrator to carry the story. Though I found some of the changes she underwent after meeting William to be a bit abrupt and was tempted to slap her upside the head a couple of times (particularly at the end), I really enjoyed watching her question everything she thought she wanted and come to the realisation that love and a career are not mutually exclusive.

And, oh, William… where to start with him? Predictable physical perfection and hot accent aside, he is truly a keeper. Given his upbringing and his status as a mega-wealthy media mogul surrounded by sycophants, he is reserved and hesitant to let people in. In the beginning, he is focussed on expanding his media empire and rising to the very top, with no time to devote to a personal life or relationships that will surely not last. One look at spunky MK stuck in the binding machine at his new Chicago office and he is sunk—despite his status as her boss and his lack of belief in lasting relationships. I really liked how William respected MK, doing his best to minimise office gossip due to their relationship (but going all sexy badass millionaire mogul when someone deliberately messed with her) and letting her set the pace for its physical progression. I also loved how he saw her as more than a pretty face, recognised that her sharp mind was wasted as an assistant (even his own), and pushed her to forward her career and take it in a direction more suited to her but that she’d never considered—writing—by opening the door and letting her choose to walk through it. In a sea of sexy, ├╝ber-alpha, controlling billionaire heroes, William stands out because he’s more beta than alpha until push comes to shove… and I have a huge soft spot for slightly-beta heroes! Watching those walls he’s built around himself start to crumble as he falls for MK and the way he shows rather than talks about his feelings—especially after his major (and inevitable) man moment near the end—is incredibly heartwarming and satisfying. I seriously wanted to take him home and keep him for my own, even when Ms. Ellis tries too hard to make him come across as quintessentially English and it feels a bit forced. He and MK make a delightful, ridiculously cute couple, and the banter between them is hilarious.

CONNECTIVITY is a great read for fans of romantic comedies and anyone looking for a lighthearted, humorous read with the right amount of sweetness and two thoroughly enjoyable characters. It reminds me of an updated, slightly new-adult Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Ms. Ellis brings a refreshing new voice to contemporary romance and to the somewhat tired sex-God-domineering-billionaire trope. Though MK and William’s story is complete, I look forward to seeing what Ms. Ellis has in store for her readers.

**ARC provided by Author**

Purchase: | Amazon |



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