The Marriage Ultimatum
We say it often: reading preferences and reviews are subjective. While The Marriage Ultimatum might be a “guilty pleasure” for some, for me it was simply uncomfortable, so much so that I could only read about 10 pages at a time.
The first few pages seemed promising. Billionaire Vladimir Grigory arrives in his corporate offices late at night after months away on international trips to find a hot woman rummaging through a refrigerator looking for her Red Bull and swearing like a sailor. Vlad comes close to kissing her, but pulls back, remembering this is his work place.
Sabrina is completely exhausted. At 23 she’s balancing the needs of her toddler “son” Alex, her online college courses, and her job as a word processor. Desperate for money, she takes as much overtime as possible. And yes, she’s attracted to the hot guy – doesn’t know he’s Vladimir, the top boss – but has too much on her plate. While waiting in the rain for the company car service to take her home, Vlad comes out and shares the car, and within minutes he’s kissing her.
The next day Sabrina’s horrible supervisor gleefully tells her to report to Vladimir’s office. Sabrina is shocked when she learns the CEO is the man she kissed the night before. She’s even more shocked when he fires her based on reports of her supervisor’s reports. As for me, I was shocked that in a huge multi-million dollar company a word processor would be fired in person by the billionaire CEO. Don’t they have an HR department?
The next morning Sabrina wakes to discover Vlad pounding on her apartment door. The tabloids are filled with a story that Alex is his and that he abandoned them. Vlad is convinced Sabrina and a conspirator sold the story to the tabloids. No matter what Sabrina says, Vlad refuses to believe her, and insists she go with him. Though she fights it initially, Sabrina caves in and in the middle of a hurricane, Vlad drives her to his “secret” house on Long Island where the power is out, and essentially keeps her hostage. And true to the title, Vlad eventually insists Sabrina marry him, even though he doesn’t trust her. It’s all to save face, because his reputation is critical.
Vlad is a sponsor of orphanages in his home country and believes he needs to prove the stories in the tabloids false by appearing to have a loving relationship with Sabrina. Of course, we learn very early on that Alex isn’t Sabrina’s son but really her young brother. Convinced social services will take him away if they find out, Sabrina continues to lie to Vlad about Alex.
I found Vlad’s threats and power over Sabrina unappealing and uncomfortable. Until nearly the end of the book Vlad continues to threaten to destroy her, and to guarantee she’ll never work in New York again unless she goes along with everything he says. Despite Vlad’s beliefs that Sabrina sold the story, they live together and go on a glorious honeymoon in the Mediterranean. And yes, Vlad has sex with Sabrina nearly continuously once they’re married, and treats her to expensive clothes.
This feels more like something published years ago than now. The setup feels dated and preposterous, including some whopping coincidences late in the book. By the time Vlad has his turnaround, after learning the truth about Alex, it was simply too late for me. I wanted Sabrina to kick him to the curb.