These books might be tropetastic, but they also handle the tropes with aplomb. And avoid ridiculous angst and miscommunication, because the characters talk to each other like adults.
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Let’s start with: these two protagonists have ignored each other for years and then decide to have a fake relationship, so the only way for them to go is up. What with court(ish) intrigue and a fake relationship, there’s plenty of room for these protagonists to jump to conclusions and have misunderstandings, but they don’t. They demonstrate trust and kindness all the way through. It’s heartwarming and steamy.
Yes, it’s a best friend’s sibling, small town romance, but Break the Rules digs deep to take us past all the standard romance noise and get the protagonists to ask the question: Is this relationship important enough to me that I stop thinking about what’s good for “me” and start thinking about what’s good for “us”? And I mean that in a healthy, relationships-take-compromise way, not in a subjugation way. Also, the sex scratches on his back are what give it all away to his brothers. Yowza.
Age gap romance is generally an Erin thing, because she likes paternalistic heroes, but Holly really enjoyed this one – mainly because the (much younger) heroine called out the (much older and also more powerful) hero on his paternalistic bullshit all the time. Especially when he thought he was “acting in her best interest.” Watching these two fight their lust for each other, and then build a true partnership among equals despite their different socio-economic and cultural statuses was deeply satisfying. And very very sexy.
These two protagonists have some not great history, but the way they get to know each other again as adults is delicious. Both protagonists have some emotional baggage, but they manage to communicate with each other and not jump to wild conclusions when the going gets tough, which was lovely to read. Also, when they finally hit the bedroom, I was DED.
Eden is extremely sheltered and has had her entire life controlled by her father. So when she trades tutoring for lessons in seduction from the steamiest guy in class, one would THINK Eden would be in for a world of trouble–and a broken heart. But no. Not from sexy, swoon-worthy, thoughtful, supportive Jake. This book is a delicate, slow burn of appreciation for unappreciated skills and open communication. You’re going to think it’s almost TOO relaxing and enjoyable, but don’t get too comfortable–these lessons will get your heart racing.
Here we have a sexy and complicated book featuring a SUPER sexy reality TV show carpenter who is also trying to figure out how to deal with PTSD after a traumatic incident, and a chef who is trying to rebuild her life after getting her hiney handed to her in a break up. Sounds like a hot mess, right? Well, yeah. Kind of. They are a mess, but they’re also human beings who are thoughtful and self-aware and who melt the walls with their chemistry.