What would you do if you received a $10,000 check in the mail? It’s addressed to you, yet the signature is illegible. There’s just one word written in the memo line: “You”. So, what would you do? Cash it? I feel like I’d harass someone at the bank for more info, even if they couldn’t give it to me. Ask around a bit!
What’s it About?
The first time it happened, it seemed like an impossible miracle. Bills were piling up, adding up to more money than I could ever make. Mom’s hospital bills. My baby brother’s tuition. My tuition. Rent. Electricity. All of it on my shoulders. And I had just lost my job. There was no hope, no money in my account, no work to be found. And then, just when I thought all hope was lost, I found an envelope in the mail. No return address. My name on the front, my address. Inside was a check, made out to me, in the amount of ten thousand dollars. Enough to pay the bills and leave me some left over to live on until I found a job. Enough to let me focus on classes. There was no name on the check, just “VRI Inc.,” and a post office box address for somewhere in the city. No hint of identity or reason for the check or anything. No mention of repayment, interest, nothing…except a single word, on the notes line: “You.” Just those three letters.
If you receive a mysterious check, for enough money to erase all your worries, would you cash it? I did. The next month, I received another check, again from VRI Incorporated. It too contained a single word: “belong.” A third check, the next month. This time, two words. Four letters. “To me.” The checks kept coming. The notes stopped. Ten thousand dollars, every month. A girl gets used to that, real quick. It let me pay the bills without going into debt. Let me keep my baby brother in school and Mom’s hospice care paid for. How do you turn down what seems like free money, when you’re desperate? You don’t. I didn’t. And then, after a year, there was a knock on my door. A sleek black limousine sat on the curb in front of my house. A driver stood in front of me, and he spoke six words: “It’s time to pay your debt.” Would you have gotten in? I did. It turns out $120,000 doesn’t come free.
When our main female lead receives this mysterious $10,00 check she decides to cash it. She just got fired from her job, her mom is in an assisted living facility, her brother is in college, she’s in college, and her rent is past due. I think I’ve got all her bills covered! Although she debates over it for a while, she seemingly has no choice but to cash it. I must say, I did admire that one of the first things she did was give some of the money to her best friend to help with rent payments. Pretty selfless if you ask me. She made sure to take care of her own responsibilities rather than, say, go on a shopping spree. Kyrie also has the sense to admit to herself that there’s no way this money is being given absolutely free. Eventually, someone will come to collect. And after one year of receiving a $10,000 check every month, that collector comes a knockin’!
10k Here and There
Now, you’re probably asking yourself the same question I did whilst reading this one: why the hell would you continue cashing these checks, and racking up even more debt to this unbeknown benefactor? Especially considering the first 3 checks spelled out “you belong to me” in the memo lines. Creeeeepy! However, I gotta give it to Kyrie, she had a pretty logical answer to this conundrum. She was desperate to cash that first check to take care of herself and her family, and she knew there was no way she could have paid back that initial $10,000. When the others started coming she figured, what the hell? I’ll never be able to repay any of it, might as well keep cashing ’em. It kind of makes sense.
The set-up to the novel was interesting, but the first year of cashing checks did drag on for a while. Then when the collector finally comes along things get pretty weird. Her benefactor’s personal driver comes to “collect” Kyrie, and when he brings her to Mr. Rich Guy he insists she wear a blindfold whenever she’s in his presence. He also refuses to tell her his name. Dude, you’re basically kidnapping this chica, maybe try and make her feel a bit more at ease rather than making it seem like she’s trapped in a horror film.
A Billionaire Beast
In a way, this novel reminded me of a blend between Beauty and the Beast and Pretty Woman. Our mysterious benefactor is rather moody at first, he has his own personal quarters which are off-limits to Kyrie, and they manage to bond over his ginormous library. As for Pretty Woman, well, he provides her with her first ever opera experience!! The only difference here is that she had to remain blindfolded the entire time, and he makes her come during the “climax” of the performance.
And this brings me to the discussion of their sexual relationship. Gotta say, not a fan. I’m sorry, but I feel like there is a big difference between pushing your lover to try new things, and making them do things they legitimately don’t want to do. Prime example was when the blindfold was eventually removed, and Roth is feeling up Kyrie in his car. They quickly catch the attention of the driver in the car next to them. Kyrie repeatedly tells him to stop, that she’s embarrassed, and she keeps trying to push his hand away. But he ignores her, and keeps shoving his hand up her skirt. Personally, I found that to be disturbing rather than hot.
Now for the other annoying feature of the story. Roth admits right off the bat upon first meeting Kyrie that he has a big secret he’s keeping from her. Eventually he’ll tell her what it is, but he admits it will cause her to run from him, so he’s going to keep it to himself for now. Kyrie is initially concerned, but then basically just focuses on her burgeoning sexual relationship with Roth, and all the pretty things he keeps buying for her. I thought this secret was ridiculously obvious, but what really irked me was that Roth didn’t tell her what it was upfront. Yeah, she would have withdrawn from him, but then he could have tried to win her over through his actions. Instead, Roth tries to get close to her, make her fall for him, and then try to bring honesty to the discussion. Seems pretty manipulative to me.
I listened to this one as an audio-book. Overall I would say the narrator was just ok. Although she does a good job with Kyrie, she seemed to have a more difficult time with Roth. He’s supposed to have a slight British accent, and I felt she focused so much on trying to get that right that his voice came across as much older, and lacking any real emotion. When it came to Roth’s Mexican housekeeper, Eliza, and his Italian restaurant owner friend, both came across sounding Russian. The accents were definitely a problem. The last chapter of the novel was told from Roth’s point of view, and we suddenly get a male narrator, who actually did a great job. However, it was kind of jarring to suddenly have this deep and rumbling voice for just a few pages at the very end.
Series: Alpha, book 1. I wasn’t a huge fan of the decisions some of these characters made in book one. Not sure I’ll want to carry on with book 2. Stranger things have happened though!!
Should you read it? Upon first collecting Kyrie, Roth was pretty insistent that this wasn’t all about sex, and if they do eventually have sex it wouldn’t be prostitution even though he gave her $$. Umm, sure, whatever you say. I have to call slight B.S.though considering it’s not long before he’s making her moan.
Smut Level: Funny how these billionaires always have a friend who owns an Italian restaurant. In this novel, Roth makes Kyrie secretly come by fingering her under the table as his friend presents their dinner of lasagna and chicken parmigiana. Who needs to worry about awkward dinner conversation when you have that going on under the table?
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE. Self-Published. 450 Pages.