Review: Trouble and Strife by Lara Kinsey (2020)

Chances Limited, Book 2

Heat Factor: Lots of foreplay, minimal penetration. Still steamy. 

Character Chemistry: Elizabeth and Sidney treat each other really well and it’s very sweet. 

Plot: For a book called “Trouble and Strife”, this novella was remarkably low-key. There was very little tension or conflict or drama. 

Overall: I inhaled this book and wished it were longer.

We find ourselves in Birmingham, 1931. Sidney is the enforcer for Chance Brothers’ Limited – once a gang, now increasingly a legitimate business venture. Since he’s also a recovering alcoholic, he decides to hold a meeting with his lieutenants in the neighborhood chocolate shop, where they can sip hot chocolate and eat bonbons while plotting who to cut next with their razors. Elizabeth, chocolate maker extraordinaire, is reeling a bit – not least because of that delicious man hiding behind a terrible mustache – but she serves them their chocolate with panache. 

In short: what a great opening!

Of course, it’s desire at first sight for these two, so Sidney keeps popping by for chocolates until Elizabeth asks him out and they start dating. I loved Elizabeth and Sidney together because they are so kind to each other. Elizabeth makes sure Sidney has clothes that fit and teaches him how to make chocolates and gently bosses him around. Sidney always follows Elizabeth’s lead in the bedroom, which is especially important given that she has chronic pelvic pain and frequently finds penetration uncomfortable.

The conflict is minimal, but primarily stems from Sidney’s insecurities: he is a follower, not a leader, and he is convinced that Elizabeth is too good for him. The “she is too good for me” subplot is pretty standard Uptown Girl fare, but I thought the “I’m a follower” dynamic was pretty interesting. Elizabeth has no problem calling the shots, and Sidney has no problem submitting to a woman, and it’s frankly refreshing seeing a so-called “beta” hero who is also hyper-masculine AND needs someone to pet and take care of him a little bit. 

While I thought that the process of Elizabeth and Sidney figuring their dynamic out was really great to read, I also thought that parts of the book felt really rushed. For example, there are several meet and greets where various members of Sidney’s family scope Elizabeth out. In each meeting, there is a brief moment of intimidation (they are notorious criminals, even if they’re going straight now) followed by the bravado quickly cracking. And each time, I felt that the scene either should have been cut or needed to be drawn out much longer to really do the work it was meant to be doing (presumably illuminating the relationship between Sidney and his family). In short: this is not a tight novella, but rather one that has enough meat to be a novel.

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Buy Now: Amazon

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