Hostile Takeover

Title: Hostile Takeover
Author: EM Lynley
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
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Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel/300 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Review Summary: This book has it all: A vicious, vain woman out for revenge, a villainous hero, another hero who is gullible, a manipulative father, and sex overload.



Years ago, Chase Richards and Mathias Tobler fell in love while training for the US Olympic fencing team. Afterward, they even attended the same business school so they could be together. Then Chase left Mathias alone and heartbroken in Italy. But all of that is ancient history by the time Chase thunders back into Mathias’s safe, settled life with a business deal.

There’s no way Mathias is going to do business with Chase. He spent nine years picking up the pieces and has moved on in life—and love. But Chase won’t give up without a fight: he concocts a scheme to manipulate the market and take over the Tobler family business. If Mathias wants to save it, he’ll have to face off against Chase over crossed sabers.

Chase has a reputation as an unscrupulous corporate raider, but the Tobler business holds little interest for him. In reality, he wants Mathias. Chase must win him back—by any means necessary—before Mathias gives his heart to someone else. But how does a cold-blooded corporate raider convince the man he loves that his heart really isn’t made of stone?


I really wanted to like this story because the blurb was complex and had all the ingredients that appeal to me: fencing (a sport I love), business strategies (another area that rings my bell and something with which I’m familiar), manipulation of the financial markets (check) and a corporate raider (ditto). Why didn’t I like it more?

Several years ago our two heroes were in love and planning a holiday together. Or at least one of them was, while the other one was trying to figure out how to break the bad news that not only wasn’t he going to make it for the holiday, but their 2 year relationship was over. The way this was done didn’t make me love Chase (the one doing the breaking up) because his reason for doing so was because by dumping Mathias he could remain daddy’s pet with a huge bonus on a deal he was negotiating.

Fast forward 9 years and Chase and Mathias have had no contact with each other but all of a sudden Chase sees the light and figures out that he wants Tee (his special name for Mathias) back because he’s SO in love with him. This is where Chase’s character unravels. Chase contacts Mathias about a business deal, but Mathias wants no part of him or it and sells the assets to another company without telling Chase. Instead of trying again to get together with Mathias by contacting him to make up for the past he decides that the way to Mathias’s heart is to devalue his company which has been in his family for about a hundred years. His plan? Manipulate the share price so that the company would be worth about half its current value, which would facilitate buying the assets at a bargain rate. Stripping the company of its assets and selling them off individually, his usual strategy, could affect the livelihood of thousands of The Tobler Company employees, including Mathias who would be out of a job. Why come up with such a Machiavellian plot that didn’t make any sense, as Mathias would hate Chase and any chance of a romance would be lost?

Now for the piece de resistance that really boggled my mind. After imbibing a few drinks in a bar Mathias was approached by Chase’s chauffeur who propositioned him to have sex with his boss for money. He agreed and did have sex with a total stranger in a limo, or someone he thinks is a stranger as he was blindfolded and didn’t know it was Chase. Am I the only one who thinks this is incomprehensible? IMO this scene was humiliating for Mathias and I lost a great deal of respect for his character as I couldn’t imagine any CEO who would have placed himself in such a vulnerable position with an unknown person, no matter how desperate his situation or his mental acuity at the time.

Mathias loved Chase until he abandoned him. He fell in love with Brooke years later (he was bi) and thought that a marriage between them could work, until Brooke proved that she had no morals and in fact was worse than Chase by not only having sex with other men while engaged to Mathias, but she also helped Chase to wipe out Mathias’s company in one fell swoop. She was scheming, manipulative, money hungry, unfaithful, and then she found a way to really screw Mathias over through Chase. Could she have been a more gross misrepresentation of a woman? Why oh why do we continue to have female characters in M/M who are so vile? Brooke had no redeeming qualities except maybe she was a former beauty queen.

Chase was a very intelligent character with a lot of business acumen, yet his excuse for what went wrong in his life was his father. How could an adult blame his woes on his parent even if that parent is a scumbag? I have two words for Chase: free will. He let his love of money destroy his relationship with Mathias, then out of the blue he decides he wants him back and spares no effort or money to try and win him again. How could he think that the way to Mathias’s heart was by stealing his fiancée and getting her to betray him by using her position of trust to gain privileged information?

Although I liked Mathias I thought he was gullible and spineless with Brooke and later with Chase, and I couldn’t imagine that someone who had managed such a large corporation could be so stupid as to reveal his plans to his fiancée who all of a sudden was interested in his financing strategies to keep the company afloat, something she couldn’t have cared less about before. Why wasn’t he suspicious? It’s not as if their relationship was rock solid and he trusted her, in fact it was the reverse.

Last, a major problem with the book was the frequent use of flashbacks which took me out of it every time. Surely there was a better way to bring the two time periods together as opposed to telling almost 40% of the story through flashbacks? Maybe parts I and II? That could have worked for me.

The last quarter of the book was much better as there was a lot of effort made to clean up Chase’s image into that of a charitable benefactor and a likeable person who was very much in love – although he was morally ambiguous, given his former persona. I guess anyone can be redeemed if you work hard enough to make them over.

If you like lots and lots of sex you’ll love this book because there was enough here for at least two books, and it wasn’t to advance the plot. 🙂

I hate writing negative reviews (especially when the author is such a good writer) as they are really difficult to write, so I put this one off for awhile after I read the book, hoping that on reflection I would like it better, but that didn’t happen. I guess you realize by now that I didn’t like this book very much.

To summarize:

I thought that the execution of the plot, while imaginative, was too incredible to be believed and the characterizations didn’t work for me for the reasons mentioned.

The later changes in Chase’s character were a concerted effort to make him more likeable, as opposed to who he had been throughout most of the book, and it didn’t work for me as it seemed to be too calculated.

Brooke was not likeable, in fact she was vile and made Mathias look like a fool.

Mathias, while a better character than Chase, was gullible.

The best part was the battle at the end with the sabers. Great fencing bout!

Hostile Takeover started out with a lot of promise and the writing was good but the story became confusing and then went off the rails, therefore I could only rate it as 2.5 stars. While the last few chapters were better than the first three quarters of the book I wasn’t convinced about Chase’s turnaround or the romance, even though there was a HEA.


I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball


  • What a shame, I’d liked the sound of the blurb and I love books about fencing and the cover is pretty. Thanks for the review Wave, think I’ll skip this one. Usually I like this author’s work but sounds like it all went pear-shaped here.

    • I was really disappointed because the blurb peaked my interest and was definitely not a regular trope, many of which I’m very tired of reading. Unfortunately the execution didn’t work for me but it might for other readers so don’t dismiss it out of hand since it seems from reviews on GR that a few people like it.

  • I wanted to wack Chase over the head with the baseball bat, I kid you not. I mean that’s how we try to establish the line of communication with the lover we abandoned nine years ago. That makes sense. Not. And that scene in the car? Ugh. Just really ugh. And father blaming gets so very old if you ask me. Thanks for the review.

    • Hey Sirius

      I couldn’t warm up to Chase who was a prick, and in the end I lost all respect for Mathias after that scene in the limo which made me want to hurl. As for Brooke, the least said about her the better.

      So much wasted potential as this book could have been WAY better.


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