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REVIEW: Exclusive by Ki Brightly & M.D. Gregory

Model Love: Exclusive – Ki Brightly & M.D. Gregory

Getting signed as an exclusive model for a new fashion line is a dream come true for Asa, but is there more to the rich Ruslan than meets the eye?

Being a model was supposed to be temporary for Asa McGogh AKA Augustine Hart. His fashion career was meant to be a stepping stone to acting, but when he gets an exclusive contract that comes with a hefty payday, he can’t say no. It would be a privilege for any model to be the face of a new fashion line built by millionaire Ruslan Kozlova, and it doesn’t hurt that Ruslan is charming, a flirt, and incredibly handsome.

Ruslan Kozlova has a lonely life. Being a mafia boss isn’t easy, and all he wants to do is find the right person to stay by his side. When he sees Asa on a billboard, he knows he must have him, and he’ll do anything to make it happen, even bankroll an entire fashion line to get him close. Ruslan doesn’t want to be like every other businessman who expects more than Asa is willing to give him, though, so he decides to woo him the old-fashioned way.

The more time Ruslan spends with Asa, the more he comes to realize how different Asa is from every other man he has met. Asa is pure and sweet, and Ruslan will do anything to keep him from the dark part of his life. But what happens when Asa finds out who Ruslan really is?

Exclusive is part of the Model Love multiauthored series. Each book can be read as a stand-alone story, in any order, but there are so many models falling in love, why not read them all?

Exclusive has a premise that immediately grabbed my attention. As someone who has dabbled in the fashion industry, a.k.a. failed attempts at designing, a person bankrolling an entire fashion line just to get his crush’s attention is peak romance to me.

This is one of the fluffier and sweeter stories from this author duo who specializes in love interests from the wrong side of the law, mafia bosses, bikers, those types. It’s also a nice little tribute to Ukraine, with Ruslan Kozlova being a son of Ukrainian immigrants. The guy took one look at a billboard of perfume model Augustine Hart, a.k.a, Asa McGogh, and was immediately smitten. He had to have him!

This kicks off the classic wine-and-dine romance because Ru is determined to woo Asa the traditional way. It was hella charming, though a tad bit too old-fashion and cheesy for me. Ru was the perfect gentleman and a romantic, wishing for true love as his parents had. At odds with his mob boss persona at which, the story was quick to clarify that the man was tired of the criminal life.

Asa is advertised as sweet and pure. Yeah, he is that, but I felt his characterization wasn’t there 100%, falling short of adorable. He came from the Midwest with a supposedly wacky family. He took Ruslan to meet his folks. The McGoghs took it as a cue to act as ridiculously as possible. I felt they were trying too hard, and Ru pretty much lost his personality, barely having any dialogues and just going along with the trainwreck.

Exclusive is a mix-bag for me. It’s my ultimate fashion fairy tale and a cheesy, light-hearted love story that almost lost the plot near the end. Luckily, it got back on track and rallied to the HEA I’ve been waiting for. All in all, this sugary sweet love at first sight romance is worth more than a passing glance.

3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

Soundtrack: One Look
Artist: The Correspondents
Album: Foolishman

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