Early Book Review: Manwhore (Manwhore #1) by Katy Evans
Billionaire playboy pursues conflicted reporter. Cliffhanger ending. Awash in New Adult tropes. Did not like it.
*** WARNING: This review contains some spoilers and the story itself is a CLIFFHANGER. ***
Deep breaths. That’s what I’m taking as I’ve just finished Katy Evans’ Manwhore, a new book about billionaire playboy Malcolm Kyle Preston Logan Saint and the reporter determined to charm an exposé out of him to resurrect her dying magazine. Sounds like a story with a lot of potential, right? It is. Malcolm Saint intrigues and romances both Rachel Livingston and us, the voyeuristic readers hanging on his every word and gesture.
The first real impression we experience of Malcolm is the laser-focused shark he becomes in business, followed closely by the quiet intensity of his personal attention. For a man whose dynamic social life is splashed across every online and print media outlet in Chicago, Saint is a surprisingly private person and holds himself apart from nearly everyone, even his seemingly-best friends. This is a man everyone wants a piece of but no one really gets. Always respectful and considerate yet with ambitions firmly locked on his target, Malcolm Saint channels Real‘s Remy and Burn For Me‘s “Mad” Rogan. Saint is the essence of sophisticated potential energy and aggressive business acumen with a raging drive to succeed at all costs. Desired by all but truly liked by few, Saint holds himself apart from everything… except Rachel. All of this, this I liked. The character is smartly layered and would appeal even if he weren’t a billionaire or a playboy.
That last part—playboy—is actually where the story starts to lose me. First, the title of this book is misleading. “Manwhore,” to me, means loose morals and selfishness, a guy who cares more about getting off than making right. Malcolm might fit that image from the outside but once we start seeing him from Rachel’s perspective, he is immediately identifiable as NONE of that. In fact, in this way, Malcolm reminds me a lot of champion fighter Remy, sweet and intense and in single-minded pursuit. When he’s with Rachel, the man she likes to call “Sin” is considerate and caring, nothing like the callous manslut the city of Chicago so wants him to be.
The story loses me even further with the cast of secondary characters built around both protagonists. Where Saint’s cronies may charm and flirt, they’re much closer to the playboy he supposedly can’t help but be. Rachel’s friends and colleagues, particularly Gina, left a bitter taste in my mouth. I get that they’re all fairly young (post-college) and young adults tend to polarize themselves against hurt, protect the ones they care for in the same way. Gina, however, insults and debases Saint’s character—a man she doesn’t even know!—at every turn, based solely on her own past relationship trauma… and Rachel just takes it, ignores her own instincts! GAH! Gina’s predictably timely (and rude) interruptions into the couple’s intimate encounters also seriously put me off.
I really wanted to love this book, but the truth is I just can’t respect a weak heroine. I can’t identify with a woman (no matter her age and life experience) who will let others dictate her very personal life choices: love, career, morals. She deserves to pay the price for that mistake and learn a valuable lesson… and Rachel does learn, but ultimately it is the reader who pays the real price. I don’t normally give spoilers in reviews, but if you are a reader who depends on that guaranteed happy ending to get you through the hard parts (as I am), you will want to throw this book across the room. As much as I hate comparing anything to Fifty Shades these days, I kept thinking about that controversial elephant in the room over and over as I read Manwhore…
- Article #1: Aloof billionaire bachelor inexplicably obsessed with quirky reporter. No, Fifty‘s Anastasia isn’t actually a reporter, but she meets him that way, doesn’t she?
- Article #2: Writer with questionable self-esteem hesitantly bursts into said rich man’s life and reluctantly caves to his persistent advances.
- Article #3: A story which gleefully indulges in stringing out its inevitable conclusion, keeping readers on the hook long after they intuit how this whole situation is going to play out.
- Article #4: Straight-up cliffhanger: The book literally ends at the door. Except rather than an elevator closing on Christian Grey’s disbelieving face, it is Ms. Evan’s fans who will do the begging when the story slams to a close, enforcing an indeterminate wait for a payoff on the reading time invested.
- Article #5: Prose which shifts and stumbles, shying away from committing to a consistent style and cadence. If I didn’t know this was written by Katy Evans, an experienced and celebrated author with several successful stories in her repertoire (at least one of which I personally have loved!), I’d assume Manwhore was written by a new author still trying to find her voice.
I’m finding it very painful to write and publish this review. Even operating in staunchly New Adult territory, this story could have taken so many positive turns and celebrated youth, but instead, Ms. Evans settled for rehashing an already-tired premise. I am honestly regretful to say that I did NOT love, or even like, Manwhore and, after my bookgasm over Katy Evans’ work in Real, Manwhore was one of my more anticipated reads of the spring. Maybe it comes down to genre: this is New Adult, no denying it and no making excuses, and Manwhore comes with all the tropes and cliques you may have come to expect from a story carrying the New Adult label. If you enjoy that style and you don’t mind clilffhanger endings, are maybe even a fan of serials, Manwhore will probably be an energizing read for you. As for me, this book is just not my style.
The story does have some conversational gems though, so here are a few quotes to send you off:
Rachel, on writing…
I am in love with stories. How they shape our lives. How they mark people who don’t even know us. How they can impact us even when an event didn’t exactly occur in our own lives.
Rachel & Saint, on promises…
“Don’t make me promise.”
“Because I’ve broken every promise I’ve ever made, and promising will only make me want to break yours.”
“Why do you break your promises?”
“Because I can. Part your legs.”
Rachel, on lessons learned…
“I’ve met a powerful man and I’ve learned that just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s right. Saint could do a million things with his power. He doesn’t. He uses it to prod others into action, I’ve watched him do it. He’s not the villain here. He gives as good as he gets. He’s used in the same way he uses. That’s what I call a trade. He’s not all saint, but he’s not all sinner.”