All’s Fair in Love & Advertising by Lenore Black
The life of a creative genius isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, not when said genius is Max Tomlin, hotshot creative director of his own New York ad agency and slightly neurotic headcase. Still reeling after a painful divorce, he’s been taking a walk on the gay side, but that hasn’t gone much better. At least his agency is in the running for a new account—even if the prospective client is from rural, backward Montana!
Max’s big-city prejudices go by the wayside when he meets Joe Bennett, aviation innovator and self-made businessman. Joe is smart, passionate, good-looking in a Marlboro Man way, and Max is hopelessly smitten. But business comes first, and Max can’t afford any distractions, not when he has an account to win and Joe’s legacy to protect. It’s going to take all of Max’s quick thinking, fast talking and sheer determination to win the account, save Joe’s company—and keep their budding relationship from becoming a casualty of corporate warfare.
This is an easy, fast read that is predictable and kind of trite. There are very classic romance elements to the story that reminded me of formulaic romances and although I understood what the story was attempting to achieve, it didn’t quite accomplish its goal. However those readers who adore the semi-perfect but incredibly neurotic “genius” archetype may indulge in this offering. I unfortunately wouldn’t recommend this offering but reader taste differs.
Beautiful, intelligent, and successful Max Tomlin decided he was gay after his wife of almost a decade left him. However the string of twinks and one night stands is threatened when the hot owner of an aviation company comes to Tomlin for an advertising campaign designed to save his company from a hostile take over. Max decides to mix a little business and pleasure.
The story is told in third person point of view from Max’s perspective and thus he is the driving force of the book. His characterization is the most in depth while the various other characters move in and out of Max’s sphere without much to them other than a variety of humorous comments and some necessary plot progression. Max is a bit too good to be true at the beginning of the story where he is described as good looking in numerous different ways, commanding the attention and attraction of almost everyone he meets. Helping matters is his genius intelligence and gift with advertising. Thankfully Max is not entirely perfect as his completely neurotic behavior and over the top antics start to overshadow the perfect parts of his personality. Unfortunately Max is also judgmental, condescending, and rude to almost everyone all the time. Max is meant to charm the reader with his inability to act like a normal person while excusing such since he’s a creative genius.
Unfortunately Max didn’t possess enough charm and likable characteristics to overcome his ridiculous actions and bitchy personality. Not to mention Max’s sexuality is really questionable for the majority of the story. Although Max claims he is gay and certainly indulges in a lot of gay sex, his claims seem to stem from a desire to strike out at his ex-wife. There are several odd comments Max makes about his sexuality which make me question if Max isn’t using the gay claim simply as a rebound to his ex-wife leaving. This claim is strengthened somewhat by Max’s relationship with Joe though. Joe supposedly finds Max’s behavior amusing and entertaining, thus not caring that Max practically stalks the man on occasion and has no idea of a healthy relationship. Joe as a character is given very little depth and often shows no real reason for being attracted to the neurotic Max. Beyond having a love of flying and cooking, Joe exists for hot sex with Max and a potential client.
Various other elements also made little sense from the gloating ex-wife to the bevy of workers around Max. Each had a purpose in furthering the plot but the story offers very little to each character – they are often interchangeable – other than moving the story along. The plot itself is predictable with unfortunately basic, unimaginative writing to compliment. The prose choices are trite and bland with a lot of extraneous and unnecessary detail thrown in to lengthen the story. This isn’t a difficult story to read but my attention was wandering frequently.
Although I know where the story was going and what it was attempting, unfortunately I don’t think this particular offering was successful. However, opinions vary – check out goodreads, a bunch of readers LOVED Max to the depths of his soul – and if this sounds like something you’d enjoy, you can pick it up over at Dreamspinner.
Get it HERE!