One Night in Aberdeen by Charlotte Howard, Book Review
By Pleasure Panel reviewer Romantic Isa
One Night in Aberdeen tells the story of Lee who has been instructed by her boss to bid on him at a charity event he is hosting with his ex wife, Anna. The winner of the bid gets to spend 24 hours with the man. Lee wins, and she gets to spend a night (and day) with her boss. Anna, not happy with the outcome, threatens Lee throughout the 24 hours, trying to make Lee quit or else she will destroy Lee’s boss. What is Lee going to do?
I have to disclose right here that I am not usually a big fan of the boss-fantasy, but when done well it can be really hot. I hedged my bet on this book doing the trope well and I was unfortunately bitterly disappointed. I sat on this review for a few weeks in the hope that my rage over this book would subside a little and although it has subsided enough for me to write a coherent review, I am still very disappointed with the very many issues that this book has. Let’s break them down, shall we?
Lack of consent
There seems to be this prevailing thought among some romance writers that the boss-fantasy does not have room for consent, but that is utter nonsense. You can have a skewed power dynamic within a relationship and still have the more powerful person obtain consent. Jenny Trout, for example, does this beautifully in her The Boss series. Unfortunately, Charlotte Howard is not into consent. It starts already in the first chapter. The boss pulls Lee aside and after a few words between them, he kisses her. Now, I am not saying that I need to see a whole lot of ‘do you want me to kiss you?’ or ‘is it all right if I kiss you?’ in my books. But we are seeing this scene from Lee’s perspective and she is not even really that into him. Or at the very best she is ambivalent. Even if she was ragingly horny for her boss, he should have made sure that she was really into him before jumping on her. At the very least it would have been nice to see some flirting between them first.
It only gets worse as the book progresses. At the table, he gropes her, which – again from her point of view – she doesn’t really like. He then orders her out of the room and wants to have sex with her. When she resists, he tells her he can just command her to do as he wants. She eventually gives in as she finally gets horny, but in the middle of kissing passionately, she stops and asks ‘Is this really what you want?’ WTF? I had to do a double take to make sure I read it correctly. HE coerces HER to have sex with him, but SHE asks HIM if he is okay. Are we in the upside down now?
He is controlling
There is a difference between a man who is in control and a man who is controlling. The boss in this book is controlling and not in a good way. Let me give a few examples to show what I mean. We already covered the part where he basically threatened to command her to have sex with him. During the bidding, when Lee is at 40K, the boss shakes his head, signalling to Lee that she should stop. She doesn’t and goes to 100K in order to thwart Anna. She is understandably nervous about this, as it’s far higher than 40K, so when they get back to the table after the bid, she apologises. He shakes his head and says 100K is nothing, well worth not having been won by Anna. This is classic abuser behaviour: sending mixed signals to keep the abused person on their toes, always guessing what the reaction of the abuser might be.
Other signs of him being a controlling abuser: Lee is being blackmailed, but doesn’t want to tell the boss, because she knows how much of a temper he has. She describes an instant from earlier in her life where he smashed all the office furniture in a fit of rage. Red flag, in my opinion. When Lee finally tells the boss about the blackmail, he suggests she quit her job. She is understandably pissed. She loves her job and doesn’t want to lose it. He tells her she is too smart for it and she needs to choose between him and her career. When she is reluctant to choose, he makes the decision for her. He tells her that he knows other companies have tried to poach her: he has intercepted emails from competitors and deleted them from her inbox before she could see them, because he doesn’t want her to leave. That is not normal, nor is it acceptable. If my boss did that to me, I would be furious, let alone the man you are shagging. He then proceeds to fire her from her job as PA and promotes her to be his partner in the business. Right. First of all, that is not really credible, but even if we suspend belief in this instance, he is making decisions for her, controlling her life. Not a good sign of a healthy relationship.
And as if this book wasn’t bad enough already, there is the rivalry between the ex wife and the new girlfriend. It’s such an old cliche that I merely sighed when I saw it. Lee hates Anna because of what she has put the boss through during the divorce. She mentions Anna’s fake breasts and liposuction, so we’ve got body shaming as well. Why not? The book could hardly get any worse. Relying on female jealousy or the trope of two women fighting over one man is just lazy writing in my opinion. We can do better than that.
This book gets a big NO from me. I deliberately am not using the name for the boss as he is such a controlling asshole, I have erased his name from my head. The only one he thinks about is himself. Everything that happens to Lee, all the things she worries about, he makes about him. He firmly puts himself at the centre of everything, which is not sexy at all. I can’t even comment on the sex scenes in this book, as for me a sex scene is only really hot when you are happy the two people in the scene are having sex. I kept yelling at Lee to get the hell out of that relationship, quit her job and make a better life for herself.
Unfortunately with the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey there has been an upturn in romances featuring a controlling man, whose behaviour is bordering onto (or crossing over into) the abusive. There is enough abuse and lack of consent out there in the real world. I want my romances to be safe places, where men are not afraid to respect women and ask for their consent and allow them to make their own decisions.
– Romantic Isa
Thanks to Pleasure Panel reviewer Romantic Isa for this review of the erotic book, One Night in Aberdeen by Charlotte Howard.
This book was provided free of charge, in exchange for a fair and honest review by the Pleasure Panel, by the author. Thank you.
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