Recommended Read, Review Revisited

Review Revisited: Erin’s Take on By a Thread by Lucy Score (2020)

In addition to her review, Ingrid has recommended this book in four other discussion posts or listicles. And also she tells us to read it in the group chat even more than that. And so, finally, I did. I actually listened to the audiobook, and Dominic’s POV is voiced by Sebastian York, who has what I consider this perfect, er, asshole voice (Sorry, Sebastian! You’re really fun to listen to!), so when Dominic is all up in his feelings but still going through with his, er, bad behavior anyway, it’s just perfection. Erin Mallon voices Ally’s chapters, and she’s also a great narrator. So easy to listen to. Great audio. 

Okay but the book.

My primary takeaway from this book is that it addresses the power dynamics of an employer/employee relationship better than any such romance I have ever read. And that is a trope I enjoy, even if it’s problematic. Fiction is great, right? Anyway, Ingrid definitely touches on this, too, in her review, but I think it should be said again. 

Because he’s lived through the repercussions of his father’s actions, Dominic is so fully against a workplace romance – for all the right reasons! – that he actually fails to see the difference between what his father did to the women in his employ and Dominic’s own relationship with Ally. There were actually times when I was frustrated with Ally, who got mad at Dominic for his refusal to engage with her even though she was very clearly consenting, because Dominic was so utterly clear that consent doesn’t work the same way when their workplace power dynamics were in play. And yet, because Score included the component of Dominic’s dad’s sexual assault and harassment, the reader is still able to see the difference between what Dominic’s going through and what his dad was doing. As the numerous harassment trainings I’ve attended have told me: sexual harassment is not about sex; it’s about power. And that’s exactly what Dominic’s dad very clearly illustrates, but what Dominic fails to see in his own feelings about Ally. 

(Also, once things pull together, they go straight to HR, which is great, although HR really shouldn’t have allowed Dominic in the room with Ally while they were discussing the relationship, because if she were being pressured, she couldn’t say so in front of Dominic – but hey, FICTION! There’s a beautiful hand-holding moment that we would have otherwise missed out on.)

The other thing I really liked was that Dominic knows he’s being so bad but just can’t help himself. I like a self-aware protagonist. Makes the naughty behavior less gross. But also Dominic is a big softie. He wants Ally to eat, but he knows it’s not appropriate to buy her food, so he buys food for the whole department. Still not entirely appropriate, and not very sustainable, but definitely shows his soft underbelly while he’s being a, um, little stinker. 

Anyway, it’s a long one, but very well thought out. Read on for Ingrid’s original glowing review.

Continue reading “Review Revisited: Erin’s Take on By a Thread by Lucy Score (2020)”
Dueling Review, Recommended Read

Dueling Review: Big Bad Cowboy by Carly Bloom (2018)

Once Upon a Time in Texas, Book #1

Holly’s Take

Heat Factor: I found the sexting shockingly effective

Character Chemistry: Maggie is in lust with the Big Bad Wolf, and moving from animosity to friendship to love with Travis. Except they’re the same man—and she doesn’t know it.

Plot: Maggie and Travis have mindblowing, slightly kinky sex as anonymous strangers at a costume party. And then Travis discovers that they’re neighbors slash she thinks he’s destroying her business. Too bad the sexting is so fun.

Overall: There were a few rough patches at the beginning, but I ended up really enjoying it.

Ingrid’s Take

Heat Factor: I’d definitely say it borders on a slow burn IF you don’t take the sexting into consideration.

Character Chemistry: There are a lot of relationships going on and they all had pretty good chemistry. Maggie and Travis seemed to sync really well.

Plot: Maggie and Travis hook up in disguise at a costume party—Travis knows Maggie’s identity, but Maggie is in the dark. When they end up at odds as neighbors and work competitors, they end up finding a deeper connection.

Overall: It was a cute cowboy-to-be book that felt realistically small-town.

Erin’s Take

Heat Factor: It starts early and doesn’t really slow down if you count all the sexting, but I wanted the story to get on with it because all the character interactions were more fun

Character Chemistry: I was more invested in the all the dynamics of the small town characters than in the romantic relationship between Maggie and Travis

Plot: business competitors, antagonistic anonymous neighbors, anonymous hookup, forced to work the same contract, sexting deception, custody battles, and liens

Overall: If we hadn’t agreed to buddy read it, I probably would have DNFed by 25% simply for all the gender essentialism, BUT I think it was maybe Trying To Do Something, and, as Holly said, it turned out pretty cute in the end.

Continue reading “Dueling Review: Big Bad Cowboy by Carly Bloom (2018)”
Recommended Read, Review

Review: Night Hawk by Beverly Jenkins (2011)

Heat Factor: They definitely like the sexytimes, even if they don’t do it all the time

Character Chemistry: I was going to say he’s a tall drink of water and she’s a firecracker, but those metaphors don’t mix well. So. How about: he’s a bottle of Diet Coke, and she’s a Mento

Plot: Maggie got arrested and wound up in a reluctant Ian’s custody, but when he finally manages to leave her, he realizes he really doesn’t want to

Overall: Just when I thought things were slowing down, a new adventure cropped up

Continue reading “Review: Night Hawk by Beverly Jenkins (2011)”
Recommended Read, Review

Review: Handy for You by Adele Buck (2022)

All For You, Book #2

Review of All For You, Book #1

Heat Factor: Slow burn, medium heat

Character Chemistry: They kind of instantly connect, and then the connection weakens…and then it’s tight again. 

Plot: Rob is a single dad (to an adult daughter) who helps his newbie homeowner neighbor, Kari, with assorted household fixer-upper tasks until they’re getting fixed up themselves.

Overall: Cute story, tad slow in parts. Rob’s a little infuriating sometimes.

Continue reading “Review: Handy for You by Adele Buck (2022)”
Recommended Read, Series Review

Series Review: The Team by Tal Bauer (2021)

Heat Factor: They have a lot of sex. (A lot.) And it’s explicit but not every time.

Character Chemistry: He was meant to love the white swan!

Plot: Gay football player thinks he can spend his college career with his head down and without romantic entanglements…until he meets the love of his life during a summer study abroad in Paris

Overall: Holy angst, Batman!

Heat Factor: It’s actually not that slow a burn, but getting to that first kiss is oof

Character Chemistry: They just like each other so gosh darn much

Plot: (Best friend) and (father) of The Jock’s protagonists are third wheels so much that they find themselves pairing off, particularly after the quarterback is left behind while everyone else has summer break

Overall: It’s a sweet one. Floating hearts just coming right off it.

Continue reading “Series Review: The Team by Tal Bauer (2021)”