Review: Chaos & the Geek by Elizabeth Stevens (2020)

Grace Grayson Security, Book #1

Heat Factor: Pretty tame for open door sexytimes

Character Chemistry: Obviously living with the person you haven’t been able to talk to for years will result in everything resolving into a HEA because forced proximity

Plot: Pretty classic best friend’s sibling

Overall: There were some really good things and some things I wished hadn’t been there

According to a blurb at the end of Chaos & the Geek, this was author Elizabeth Stevens’s first foray into adult romance. I was just going to read for funsies, but now I have thoughts, so I’m going to write a review. We have a few things going on here:

  • Amber is totally beautiful in a “sexy librarian” way but thinks she’s frumpy and has no self-confidence.
  • Kit/Chaos is a sexy-as-sin, man-slag, ex-military badass who is now CEO of his own security company and has aaaaaaaaaaaall the money.
  • Amber just dumped her boyfriend and her best friend in one go because she walked in on them having sex after an all-nighter at the library.
  • Amber’s older brother is Kit’s best friend, so now that she’s looking for a new place to live, of course he volunteers to act in loco fratris and let her live in his apartment. 
  • Amber is a virgin who’s never even given herself an orgasm, but of course Kit has no problem getting her off on the first try. TWICE. First by paying very close attention during some fancy fingering and then with her first P in V sex. 
  • Amber refers to the romance novels she reads exclusively as smutty or trashy.

There are also some misused words in the text, so if there weren’t some good chemistry between Amber and Kit the book would fall a bit flat. What made it a fun read was: 1. Best friend’s sibling is a catnip trope for me and 2. There were several quality aspects to the relationships portrayed in this book. 

For starters, while there are some assumptions about what the other would expect from a sexual relationship, Amber and Kit don’t generally make assumptions about what the other is thinking when they actually start talking to each other. They’re honest, and they don’t unnecessarily withhold information that causes problems later. They believe each other and make decisions rationally based on what the other says he/she wants or needs. 

The paternalistic aspect of the whole “we shouldn’t be doing this, it’s bad for you” mindset is directly addressed (you know, the infuriating “I’m going to stop us from making this sex mistake because you obviously don’t know what you really want” thing):

“If you’d said no when both of us wanted it, what does that tell me, Kit?” I asked him. 

He blinked. “What?” 

“What does that tell me?” 

“I…I don’t know.” 

“It tells me you think I can’t make my own decisions. It tells me you think I don’t know what’s best for me. It tells me you think you get to make my decisions for me.” 

“Amber, that’s not what I meant at all.” 

I shrugged. “Maybe not. But I can make my own decisions and it’s my birth right to either live happily with or regret those decisions later, not yours. If you hadn’t wanted to kiss me, fine. But don’t go assuming you know what I want or what’s best when I’m literally telling you what I want.”

Also, the five men who form the security company are playful and loving toward each other and those they care about. Yeah, they’re former special ops bad-ass dudes with abs that won’t quit (I can’t be sure, but I’m guessing Computer Geek man will also have a six-pack of steel). But the alpha is pretty toned down given the amount of sexy-lethal-money we’re dealing with. It’s bromancey (also alternating POV, so the quote above is Amber but this is Kit):

“You know,” I heard Tank say. “I think we really need to develop healthier coping techniques. Better dispute resolution and all that.” 

“I dunno,” said Rollie. “This has always worked for us.” 

I ducked another of Hawk’s swings. 

“An official dispute resolution policy would take forever to sort any shit out,” Nico added.

And when Chaos/Kit is finally making his case to Amber’s brother about why he shouldn’t get punched in the face (because obviously nonsense has to go down–it’s a best friend’s sibling trope), it’s a fantastic confession. I read it and honestly thought, “Wow. That was excellent. Why don’t more of these trope resolutions go this way?”

So is this gut-wrenching, tear-your-heart out, rearrange-your-insides romance? No. It definitely has some (big) flaws. But it was fun. So if those bullet points up top don’t deter you, and the trope is one you typically enjoy, it might be a fun read for you.

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop

Looking for something similar?

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