When you think of a fairy tale retelling, you imagine a fantasy with probably monsters and fairies and all sorts of paranormal shenanigans. Well, at least I did. That was before I read Naima Simone’s Bachelor Auction series. Thanks to her I know that fairy tale re-tellings can worm their way into contemporary romances too. By the wayThe Millionaire Makeover, if you haven’t guessed yet, is a rendition of The Ugly Duckling.
Plain-Jane Khloe Richardson, a.k.a the ugly duckling (at least she seems to think so, I don’t know why!) is in love with her boss. Except she doesn’t know how to approach him, and he definitely doesn’t see her. So what’s a girl to do? Make him jealous of course. Now how do you go about doing that, you ask? Easy peasy, you bid on a bachelor at the Bachelor Auction. Now if that bachelor turns out to be your brother’s best friend, who slept with you and then took off? You stay far away from him. And then after a few days of him wearing you down, ask him for a makeover. Well Khloe never wanted to do all that. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And when you have a best friend like Morgan pushing you into the arms of the love of your life, there’s not much one can do.
I love the brother’s best friend trope. The genre and I are the bestest of friends. And this book is exactly that. To make things interesting, Naima Simone decides to off the brother. Now hold your horses, before you start thinking, “with the brother gone things are going to be so easy” Because they are not going to be easy at all. The brother, Michael has to give a hard time to the man who is trying to shag his sister, even if it from the grave, a la P.S. I Love You style, with a letter. Or rather a couple of them. Read on for the rest.. the story isn’t disappointing. When you’ve a brooding, alpha male with an Irish accent, things can never be boring.
For Niall Hunter, Michael Richardson is his brother, his best friend and his family. His death completely shatters Niall. Dealing with the loss of the only person who accepted him warts and all is not going to be easy. Michael’s sister Khloe has a hard time dealing with the loss of her brother. So, she goes to the only person who really knows what she is going through, her brother’s best friend Niall. Neither of them expected to end up in bed together. And Khloe definitely wasn’t prepared for Niall to disappear from her life after an amazing night together.
Fast forward three years, Khloe has moved on, or so she thinks until Niall appears in front of her. It’s like seeing a ghost from the past. For the past three years there has been no communication between Khloe and Niall, and not for her lack of trying. Niall has stayed away from Khloe for three years. She used to be one of her closest friend. But after “deflowering” her, he receives a letter from Michael. Which explicitly states that Khloe deserves a better man than him. So Niall does what any man who loves his best friend and has some decency and honor do. He leaves her in bed. Naked. Then doesn’t talk to her for three years.
Now that Niall is back in town, he wants to be Khloe’s friend. Just like old times. What Niall doesn’t know yet, is that the penance for sleeping with your best-friend’s little sister is…. transforming her into a beautiful swan from an ugly duckling. All this would be cool, if only, and only if, he could stop imagining her naked and stop touching her, and stop trying to be her everything.
I loved reading this book. Because even though the trope is clichéd, Naima Simone brings her own flavor into the novel. Her characters are quite real and very well fleshed out. Be it the guilt-ridden and heart-broken Niall or the sweet and shy Khole. You could even understand Khole’s parents and their reactions, even if you don’t agree with them. And I don’t agree with them. I wanted to slap them around for a bit, and then I realized it’ll take more than a few love-taps to make them open their eyes and see what’s in front of them.
For those of you, who are not familiar with Naima’s work, this book is as good as any to start with. I guarantee, you will not be disappointed. The Millionaire Makeover is full of good humor and great characters. The story itself won’t let you leave disappointed either.
Other books in this series:
This review was first published in The Ever Romantic Arts