Recommended Read, Review

Review: Under Pressure by Allie Winters (2021)

Lessons Learned Book #1

Heat Factor: SOOOOO hot. So hot. 

Character Chemistry: These two. These TWO. She sees him, he brings out her shiny backbone. Love love.

Plot: Mia and Tyler end up as partners in a lab psychology lab project and while they start out rubbing each other the wrong way it doesn’t take them very long to rub each other the RIGHT way, much to Tyler’s dismay 

Overall: Just…a flurry of feelings and then really well-written whoopie, and then feelings, and then I cried, and I loved it so much. So, so much.

So Mia is like this adorable, people-pleasing psychology student who ends up paired with Tyler, who is SO GRUMPY and kind of rude. But as we soon learn, Tyler is actually really struggling with the weight of his childhood trauma and has some really unhealthy coping mechanisms that just torpedo any possibility of real intimacy. 

However–our Mia isn’t just really warm and kind, she knows psychology. She copes with her own anxiety beautifully, and she has an innate ability to see the good in people…sometimes to her detriment. When Mia and Tyler start a casual thing together, it’s no surprise that they both end up changing both for the better and triggering some really eye-opening (and uncomfortable) reactions in each other.

For example, I loved that Mia grew this shiny but respectful backbone. She was SO clear on what she wanted and what she needed to see. With her personality type she could have very easily ended up being a bit of a pushover, and it was so rewarding to see her relationships play out in such a satisfying way.

I also loved the way the author unpacked Mia and Tyler’s psychological study. The subject matter (dealing with anxiety using biofeedback and exercise) was just detailed enough to really compliment what the characters are dealing with in their personal lives. One very tiny thing I noticed is that the supporting characters were a little absent, but I think that was because the situation with Mia and Tyler was so jam-packed with necessary untangling that there wasn’t much room for the others. Perhaps since this is a series, there’s more time for that down the line–but I do love a good “next up” tease in a series.

I did notice on Goodreads that there was some grumbling about just how grumpy Tyler was, and I disagreed strongly enough that I wanted to point something out here. Tyler is dealing with some really deep emotional scarring. And yes, he’s really rude and pushes people away and it’s frustrating to see. However. I think that based on the type of trauma he has and the way it’s played out, it’s completely understandable and it makes sense. Plus, I feel like I frequently see the heroine displaying some irrational and hurtful emotional responses due to trauma so I hope that it’s also okay for a hero, especially because in this case we’re dealing with a hero who is a perfect example of what happens when a boy grows up repressing his feelings and trauma alone. I also feel like the author successfully plays out his healing process in a way that was just incredibly moving and well done. If you aren’t a huge fan of real, visceral, moving emotional development in a character, you might not love this. But I bet you’ll love the whoopie. Just try not to love it. I dare you.

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 | Bookshop

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