Heat Factor: There are steamy scenes and it doesn’t necessarily shy away from flirtation, but I wouldn’t say it has a lot of sexual tension
Character Chemistry: The characters don’t really make sense together but that’s kind of the point of the plot
Plot: Rex will only get his inheritance if he acts as CEO at one of his family’s businesses AND if he gets married within a year. Evie needs to keep her new promotion as Rex’s assistant in order to prevent her house from going into foreclosure. Rex threatens to fire Evie unless she agrees to be his fake girlfriend in order to get his parents off his case, and sparks ensue.
Overall: I think this book has a lot of potential, especially with the messy characters, but some of the editorial choices did impact my enjoyment of the material.
This fun “bedding the boss” book by Indie author Kryssa James is packed–it’s got messy characters, playful trope use, and it’s tight from an editorial standpoint. On the other hand, from a creative standpoint, it’s almost TOO tight–I will elaborate.
The book has deliciously messy characters–I was flabbergasted to see Rex blatantly blackmail Evie and to be honest, I loved it. That kind of presumptuous, unbridled power should do two things to the reader: done well, it should stir feelings of anger, and feelings of curiosity. But in this case, Rex caves almost immediately, regrets his actions, and reverts to being kind of a bland, grumpy, rich guy. This is just one example of many where instead of pulling the tension along and letting the reader sit with the discomfort, the author cleans it up too fast. Evie is quirky, sunny, and has a huge blind spot where she sacrifices herself without thinking about the consequences to herself. Her dad loses his job, so she just buys him a house she flat out can’t afford, and as a result her home goes into foreclosure. Ideally, Evie would at some point realize that she’s buying everyone coffee and buying her dad a house, and pouring herself out and that she needs to stop and invest in herself. But that self-realization is only really half accomplished for this character–even at the end of the book, she blames the foreclosure on her bad decisions, but says she HAD to bail her dad out and that her general poor financial choices are a result of generational trauma. She is utterly passive about the choices that are meant to repair this self-inflicted damage, at best. We don’t actually see her grab her life by the horns and hold herself accountable, and that’s what’s really needed. Rex is less grumpy and seems to reach a point of clarity about what his values are, but it’s never really clear what his growth arc is–if it’s “don’t blackmail women who work for you”, that’s done and done in the first third of the book. Readers need to be able to root for both the characters AND their relationship, and in both cases these characters had more work to do.
There are similar issues plot-wise. Without spoiling things, the black moment is handled in such a way where Rex and Evie both handle it perfectly–so it feels really sudden when Evie breaks down from something they maturely discussed and she said she understood could happen. In this specific book, with the ingredients given, I felt let down because I wanted them to bump up against one another and push each other out of their comfort zones more, and that just didn’t really happen. For example, Evie does push Rex out of his comfort zone, but almost too easily–they go to a restaurant he wouldn’t normally choose, and he’s just like, oh, cool. They go to a restaurant Evie wouldn’t normally choose and she’s visibly uncomfortable and it’s never really addressed. Rex exposes Evie to a lavish life she’s both mesmerized by and uncomfortable with, but it’s a static response–there’s not really any development for her beyond that. These things just kind of happen and the plot moves on. So neither case really adds any tension to their circumstances, it’s again…passive.
I think one of the bigger things that prevented full enjoyment of this book for me personally was that the plot was over-explained. When something would happen in the plot, it would unfold and I would see what happened, then the characters would go back and forth about what happened, and then the narrator would reiterate what happened and would then discuss how it made them feel. There was a lack of trust in the reader that the author could just let the plot unfold and that the reader would be able to feel what they needed to feel in order to enjoy the book. It also got to a point where there were whole sections that I think should have been tense and weren’t simply because there was too much verbiage getting in the middle of the action. Dialogue was rarely back and forth because it was bogged down by explanations and irrelevant descriptions, and it made whole sections more difficult to follow because it slowed down the pace significantly. So even though I maintain that this book was packed full of good ideas and immense potential, it was dulled by execution.
I have to stress that this is an Indie book, so I have no knowledge of the editorial choices that went into this publication. Plus, the messy characters and bold use of unpopular choices and boundary pushing had immense potential and I’d definitely put a pin in this author and continue following. Plus, the actual writing was incredibly tight–no clunky sentences or poorly worded descriptions here. So, your mileage may vary here–for me, I wanted more focus on the creative process, but it might be just your cup of tea!
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.
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