When life gets stressful and I need reading to be a full-on escape, rather than a stimulating and educating experience, I turn to contemporary romance. It’s perfect. And Christina Lauren is a literary duo that I can always count on to deliver rock solid romantic escapism. This is a backlist title of theirs that I hadn’t had a chance to read yet, and its availability at my local library was the antidote I needed to a couple very tense weeks of work.
Carter and Evie are both Hollywood agents that meet and hit it off right away at a mutual friends Halloween party (they both dress as characters from Harry Potter, be still my nerdy heart). Anyways, they have great chemistry and things look like they’re going great until their two firms merge unexpectedly and they find themselves competing for the same position…under the world’s worst boss. The subsequent combination of steadily growing feelings and workplace sabotage (and even some espionage) lead to a pretty dramatic conclusion.
So, this is one of Christina Lauren’s earlier publications and I think I can tell. Nothing specific that I can name, also I don’t necessarily mean it in a negative way, but the flow is just a bit different than some of their most recent collaborations. I will say that the sex scenes had more awkward language than in some of their other/later books (and also maybe weren’t as prolifically sprinkled throughout…which is a bit sad, though at least the ones they did have were quite steamy). Maybe related, maybe not, it wasn’t my favorite of theirs. Though to be honest, I think I’ll say that forever after reading Love and Other Words, because that book is really almost as good as a contemporary romance can really be, in my opinion. But anyways, I still really enjoyed and got everything I was looking for out of this read. Evie was a great, strong, high-powered female lead – and I loved how realistically her own struggles and second-guessing and partial imposter syndromes were portrayed. I’m not in a any kid of similar high intensity job like hers, but I still recognize and sympathize with many of those feels and seeing them displayed so openly was fantastic to read.
On the other hand, I appreciate Carter’s reality too. He’s a good guy, at base, but just doesn’t understand (isn’t willing to see) many of the workplace inequalities Evie faces that he doesn’t, simply because he’s a man. And honestly, for a while I wanted to strangle him, just like Evie, because of how he acted (or didn’t, in some cases). Yet he showed absolute willingness to learn. And while I wish he wanted that in a greater move for equality, and not solely on the basis that he was into Evie, I still think the growth is important. Baby steps, I guess? Actually, this was very interesting because this is the first romance I can remember reading where, for part of it, I totally wasn’t rooting for the main couple to get together already. Honestly, for a portion of it, I was pretty anti-Carter for being so willfully blind and complacent. But thankfully Evie saw and was pissed about that too, so I came around to him at the same pace that she did (as Christina Lauren wrote it), and all’s well in the end since I am glad she never compromised her own job, future, or dignity over her feelings for a guy. Really a unique romance experience for me, because the stakes and tension were so much higher/greater than the normal miscommunication and will they/won’t they feels of this genre.
Another aspect of this novel that was a little different that some of the others I’ve read by this duo is the way it ended. There was a really fun little “spy” scene and some real white-collar drama that was unexpected and added a little spice and “outside forces” spectacle to the formula. It was fun and interesting. And though the ending was cheesy and a bit…easy (that rhymed, haha)…that’s why we read romance, right? So, in that respect, I finished this book in the perfect spirit of satisfaction.
Definitely this book met my expectations and I remain sure that, any time I need it, a Christina Lauren book will be there, ready to help take my mind off life’s stresses and fill me with the sexual tension and fuzzy loving feelings that do a world of good in setting me back on a path of positivity!