Book Review: What Money Can’t Buy by Liz Borino (@LizBorino)

When I first discovered author Liz Borino’s books, they were tagged as romance novels, and I had never really considered myself a fan of the genre. Not that there’s anything wrong with the romance genre, mind you, but those books often deal with plots that are based more in fantasy than reality. I tend to prefer the gritty, sometimes gut-wrenching, tales of real love—love that must sometimes endure hardship, and that requires work in order to be sustained. After doing a little research into the Taylor Twins series, I was delighted to find that this is precisely what Ms. Borino writes about. At just .99 cents, there was no risk in stepping out from beyond my comfort zone, and purchasing her first book, Expectations. I came away from it as a fan of her work, making the decision to purchase her second book, What Money Can’t Buy, an easy one.

The Taylor Twins series is centered on the lives of three main characters: brothers Matt and Chris, and Chris’s husband, Aiden. What Money Can’t Buy picks up soon after the events of Expectations, and their lives are quickly moving forward in different directions. Matt and Chris have successfully gained access to their individual trust funds and are now filthy rich. However, neither of them had intended to simply cash in and retire. Each still has a plan for what they’d like to accomplish in their lives. Matt has proceeded in leading the company he’d formed in the first book, and continues to indulge his love of business. Chris and Aiden have moved into a bigger house, and are preparing for the arrival of their twin babies being carried by surrogate, and sister to Aiden, Meghan O’Boyle.

As the title of the book suggests, the characters soon discover that money is not the answer to all of life’s struggles. While Matt overcame his addiction to alcohol in the first book, the stress caused from a pregnant girlfriend on bed rest has now led him to face new temptations, such as painkillers and other women. Chris, who was savagely assaulted by his father, must now relive that horror daily, as he has been entrusted with the medical care of his invalid patriarch. Aiden, who teaches at a successful dance studio, succumbs to a torn MCL and is told that he may never dance again. These new predicaments are tough, but they only scratch the surface of a very dark road ahead for everyone.

For only a second book, Ms. Borino displays a substantial amount of growth as a storyteller. Her pacing is vastly improved, and there are no wasted words. Every section of this book has a purpose and comes together full circle without the reader ever missing a beat. Traditional fans of romance will likely shudder at the dreadful scenarios that the characters are occasionally placed within, but there is no arguing that the author has captured a slice of life that can be related to in one way or another.

As average everyday people, we tend to believe that money would solve all of our problems, but Ms. Borino comes bearing a strong message, and warns us that such thoughts are not always true. However, What Money Can’t Buy is not without a silver lining. For every misfortune that the characters must bear, a new opportunity of hope is presented for them. Ms. Borino has quite successfully created characters that you can cheer for and care about—a fact that is no more easily proven than by my words of praise, speaking as someone who is not from her target audience.

Q & A with What Money Can’t Buy author, Liz Borino

[DAVID K. HULEGAARD]: You were able to write a sequel to your debut novel, Expectations, very quickly. At what point did you actually start working on the events of What Money Can’t Buy?

[LIZ BORINO]: They were in my head as I edited Expectations and as my release day approached, I found myself asking, ‘Well, okay great, what happens now?’ What Money Can’t Buy is part of the answer. Books three and four (coming soon) are the continuation.

[DKH]: Most writers will tell you that writing the first novel is the hardest part. Did you find that writing your second was much easier? How was the process different for you?

[LB]: Not at all. Actually, just the opposite. With What Money Can’t Buy, I had obligations, a deadline to start, and Expectations received such good response. I was struck with a fear I couldn’t duplicate the success. As a matter of fact, I almost pulled What Money Can’t Buy from publication because I was so scared.

[DKH]: Character development is crucial in any story–especially in a series. Were there any characters in particular that you wanted to focus more on this time around?

[LB]: Again, the opposite. In What Money Can’t Buy, I made a conscious effort to spread the focus more equally between the two couples. Matt wasn’t very well represented in Expectations and his story probably shows the most growth.

[DKH]: You have been vocal in interviews about how attached to your characters that you have become. Does that make it harder for you to put them in difficult situations?

[LB]: I love my boys, but the story must go on and without conflict, there is no story. My attachment to them does make it easy to get them out of said situations. Sometimes they get out, otherwise, their circumstances are changed. And that’s not always bad either, is it?

[DKH]: You have also said in interviews that even if you approach your books with a planned story in mind, that your characters wind up guiding you in completely different directions. How does that happen?

[LB]: How does it not happen? Sometimes, I’ll be writing and see their most logical reaction to a given situation and realize, ‘Well, that changes everything, now doesn’t it?’ You just need to go with it.

[DKH]: Were there any plot lines that you wound up cutting from this book?

[LB]: Yes. Matt almost died in a car crash on his way to the hospital to see his baby born. But in the end, I couldn’t do that to Chris and that would have left Dorothea alone with Carley. Not a great situation.

[DKH]: Even though Expectations was far from light, What Money Can’t Buy seems to explores even darker areas of humanity. Do you find that current events can sometimes play a role in the shaping of your books?

[LB]: Well sure. Writers take in EVERYTHING around them. Anything can make it into a story. Yes, even you.

[DKH]: Note to self: stay on Liz’s good side. 🙂 So, what’s next for Liz Borino?

[LB]: Book three and four and hopefully many sales. Please? Thank you. I don’t do well living out of a box.

Buy What Money Can’t Buy for: Kindle and Nook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.