Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Under His Influence by Justine Elyot

Under His InfluenceUnder His Influence by Justine Elyot

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My review is for an ARC copy I received from the publisher through NetGalley.

This review contains spoilers after the break. 

From the blurb:

Anna Rice is avoiding a coworker's advances when she encounters enigmatic John Stone at a trendy London bar. With his impeccable suits, salt-and-pepper hair and suave demeanor, John is unlike any of the boys Anna has dated in the past: he's definitely all man. It's not long before Anna is head over heels in love, and experiencing out-of-this world erotic dreams.

Reporter Mimi Leblanc is wary of her best friend's latest romance. There's just something about John... But nothing Mimi digs up about him can deter Anna. Determined to protect Anna, Mimi continues her investigations—and what she uncovers about John is the last thing she ever imagined. But perhaps even more shocking is her own growing attraction to him...

I actually really liked this story, despite expecting a contemporary romance with a bit of drama and erotica and getting a romance/drama/sci-fi/holy-cow-what-was-that instead.

From the blurb alone, you can guess at the upcoming drama. John is hinted at not being what he seems to be. There is also a suggestion of a possible love triangle between Anna, Mimi and John.

It's so much more than that. Without giving away the plot, here are the things that I liked:

- The britishisms. The story is set in London and while there was one word I had to ask my British GR friends about, the bits and pieces throughout the story were endearing and made me smile. I'm fortunate enough to have grown up in Germany and thus exposed to British English.

- The creep factor. It's misleading when you first read it, really, but while exceptionally charming and suave, John is initially portrayed as a very controlling guy used to getting what he wants who seems hell-bent on removing Anna from all contact with her friends and keeping her all to himself. Marrying her. Impregnating her. My eyebrows went up a lot as I was reading the first half of this story, because I was now expecting a story where the MC is a complete control freak. Axe murderers and cavemen came to mind. Boy, was I wrong.

- the writing itself. It's crisp in most areas, flows well, with enough forward movement to keep the story going at a pretty fast pace. In some instances, the colloquialisms are a bit too specific for a non-British audience, though. Perhaps this will be addressed in the final version.

- the surprise half-way through. There was one phrase John utters that hints at the fact that he's not human but I never expected him to be an alien from another planet in another Galaxy with a master plan to save the human race, for not altogether unselfish reasons.

What I didn't like so much:

- The dialogue felt stilted in some areas but that might be just the British way of talking, and John is obviously learning the language from bodice ripper romance novels .

- The ending. There was no real resolution which made me wonder if there'll be a sequel to this story. If so, I'll gladly read it. The romantic in me would like to see a HEA, especially since John seems to have learned how to truly emote by the end.

- Anna. She's 23, right out of University and working her first job as a sub-editor at a local paper. She meets John and he sweeps her off her feet. While her immaturity and inexperience might explain some of the lines she buys and what she lets him get away with, she does let him walk all over her in the latter parts of the story when she is no longer at the center of the story. He doesn't explain anything of what's really going on until the very last pages. I had to make a lot of excuses for her behavior to make her still sound realistic, the biggest excuse being John's "special" powers to charm all females he kisses and the fact that he has bonded Anna to himself.

- The title. While apt, it's also kind of meh. Of course, I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better one.

This is not a story for all romance lovers. There are elements of science fiction within that are not normally found in an romance novel though they gave this story that extra oomph, in my opinion. The main character is not a likable guy however his behavior is explained and then does make sense when one looks at him as not human. Which, clearly, he is not.

Please note that this book uses explicit language. This did not bother me at all.

View all my reviews

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review. I'd never have guessed that he wasn't human, and if he's learning about human behaviors and language from cheesy romance novels (lol) then that might explain away some of his odd behaviors or the dominating caveman attitude. I'm still not sure this is a book for me, but I'm glad your first NetGalley experience was a good one :)


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