Title: Gentleman Sinner
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas
Rating: 3 Stars
Dates read: 19 Jan 19 – 20 Jan 19
Publication date: 05 Feb 19
Publisher: Orion Publishing
Genre(s): Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
His scars run deep.
His love runs fierce.
Izzy White knows of the darkness in this world. After all, she escaped it long ago. Now, she has a built a stable life, making caring for others her mission. But one act of kindness upends her efforts when the notorious and wildly attractive Theo Kane crashes into her world.
His reputation is terrifying yet with Izzy Theo is tender-a complete gentleman-and she falls hard. As Theo’s demons come to light Izzy knows she should run, but she can’t leave, not now. Yet staying together could doom them both.
*I received an eARC of this book courtesy of Orion Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review*
Phew, OK folks, this book is everything I like to see and loathe to see in a contemporary new adult book all wrapped into one. The overall plot is one that is common to see in the genre, so I won’t bore you with any of the details other than to say that even though it was trope-y and an undoubted rehash of the same story seen over and over again, it was a good version. I’m going to start off with the good points, and then continue with the bad ones so I don’t descend into rant territory.
Let’s start off with Theo. Theo Kane is a big beast of a man who has all the notoriety and power that goes with his job (owning a semi-legal strip/fight club) and size, and has the usual sad backstory that is present with the lead men in this story: in his case a troubled childhood, an abusive father, a abhorrence to being touched. He is everything he says he is, and even though his stalking and violence is something I will address negatively later, I don’t hate the way he treats his staff and friends. He clearly cares deeply for those who care for him, and once Izzy is one the scene that instantly extends to her.
I also think that for one of these books, Izzy is a strong gal. She has been through some shit, being forced into almost sex slavery, being made to strip and being raped is not what anyone, let alone a 17yr old should be facing, so the fact that she has made her own life, forged strong unbreakable friendships around her, and has trained in caring profession (nursing) to support herself, feel safe, and give back is really admirable. I like that she lets her guard down because he gives her safety and security, and that she is wary to begin with and that what he gives her isn’t just a good sex life, but something that she has been missing.I also like that she doesn’t sacrifice her friendship with Jess, who clearly has helped her from her past to present immensely, and that Jess comes with Izzy as a packet deal and no-one doesn’t anything to dismiss that. It’s so refreshing to see, all to often books of this nature dismiss the friends quite quickly and that doesn’t happen here.
I really like the side characters as well. His Mum is great, Judy no nonsense and knows her son for who he is, there is no hiding here and she and her new husband respect that and look after him. Jess is fierce and unabashedly man-hungry. She eyes both Theo and his driver/friend/bodyguard in a frankly alarming manner, but has her friend’s back when she needs it and knows what she wants and when she needs it. Callum is Theo’s Jess equivalent and has clearly seen and helped his friend do some shady stuff, but when push comes to shove, he is like a brother to him and the bond feels like it runs deeper than anything familial. It was set up for Jess and Callum, and to be honest I was shipping that hard, but they never went there and the amusing tension between them really lifted the book.
And so we get into the bad points, which really detracted from the overall book if I am honest. Firstly, when did stalking become an attractive trope? There is nothing attractive or OK about stalking someone home, into their workplace, or on a trans-Atlantic holiday, and in this book Izzy did seem to protest and actually genuinely not like it. I’d really like for this trope to be got rid of. It’s not healthy or good to promote and encourage that sort of behaviour.
Secondly, I get that emotional trauma can lead to mental incapacity when it comes to receiving affection or personal contact. I get that this must be hard and is a real thing, but that does not make it excusable or OK for him to knock his girlfriend out and not reap and form of repercussion. She has issues with male violence and previous sexual assault, so a literal punch to the face would damage the fundamental make up of their relationship and would be something that wouldn’t be tolerated by her friends. Yet in this book he is forgiven without a measly discussion or anything.
Thirdly, and this is both a biggie and something I cannot believe I need to type. Murder is not attractive, or excusable, or something that should go unpunished. It doesn’t matter that someone hit you or treated you in an unacceptable way, beating them to death should not be covered up by the police and should not be something anyone ignores or dismisses lightly. Murder twice is something that should cause life imprisonment. Being able to kill someone with one punch shows extreme pre meditated violence in the manner the book describes (the victim was lying down defenceless) is abhorrent and again, should not be covered up in any circumstance. Yes, the victim was a rapist and all round vile human, but it is not an excuse!! I wish this sort of thing was not glorified in this kind of book.
Lastly, and probably least importantly, in the state he was in at the end of the book he wouldn’t have had the awareness to recognise her over anyone else, and he was either completely dead or he was able to be resuscitated, but the medical staff would decide this and not a hysterical girlfriend. He also wouldn’t be able to perform sexual acts if he wasn’t able to walk himself to the toilet. Sigh.
I feel like I’ve criticised this heavily, but I do want to say that I enjoyed it quite a lot. I wish these tropes weren’t present, especially as the rest of the book was actually better than many in this genre. I enjoyed it, I’d recommend to many who like the genre, but I would do it with a heavy warning.