First, thanks to Libro.fm for the ALC of this contemporary romance. (If you are into audiobooks, definitely check out their librarian/influencer program!) I was really in the need for something light and sexy (contemporary romances have become some of my favorite escapist literature over the past few years) and this was sounded like it would fit the bill exactly, so I jumped in with excitement.
Samiah Brooks is enjoying an incredibly successful career in the tech industry, having reached and attained many of the goals on her checklist, but the one that eludes her is finding “the” guy. When a live-tweeted disaster date makes her realize the most recent guy she’s been seeing is shady AF, dating multiple women at a time, the resulting viral reach of her reaction changes her life. She becomes close friends with the other two women being scammed, Taylor and London, and the three of them make a pact…they will spend the next six months focusing only on themselves, finding a hobby or chasing a dream they’d been putting off, instead of spending that time trying to find a man. They call it the “Boyfriend Project.” But right away, Samiah’s pledge is tested by the new employee at her job, Daniel Collins…
This was such a fast and fun read, exactly what I was looking for! There was a lot to love about it, especially the phenomenal representation of women, especially Black women, in “high-powered” and male-dominated fields, like tech, fitness and medicine. If this is a trend (I’m looking at you, The Right Swipe, then I am here for it.) Also, as a coach in the fitness industry (part-time/as a side gig), I don’t often, if ever, see [strong] women in these roles in literature, and I loved that here. (Samiah’s story was great, for sure, but I cannot wait to read Taylor’s story and get more of that!) To this point, I really appreciated how much time was spent on explaining how/why certain fields/jobs and careers in general are so challenging for women and, especially, Black women. The way Samiah explains how these struggles are unique to Black women is so important; it was great insight, as well as a reminder to not be that person in a workplace setting. Relatedly, the female friendships that were centered in this novel were wonderful. They were positive and supportive, while also challenging each other. It was wonderfully balanced and fleshed out. There are usually supporting female characters in these types of contemporary romances, but there was something about these three women and their friendship that took it a step farther and it was great to see.
As far as the romance itself, I thought it was paced out super well, realistically under the circumstances, with just the right amount of tension, push-and-pull, and fulfillment. On a steaminess scale, this was on the lower end of some I’ve read recently (not nearly a many, nor as “hot ” or compelling, sex scenes as in The Kiss Quotient, for example), but what it had more or less fit the story as it needed to, so it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me. The attraction between Daniel and Samiah was strong and mature, which I enjoyed. They were supportive of each other, especially Daniel to Samiah, encouraging her to reach for her personal goals always, respecting her knowledge and skills verbally and often. Just generally, despite Daniel’s job-required secrets, their connection and interactions all seemed so healthy, an important representation point for me, in reading contemporary romances. And, always a make or break, the dialogue was chock full of fun and flirty banter – I loved that. As the “drama” goes, the formulaic “major challenge” that they have the get over in order to end up together, I thought this one was original and I enjoyed it. The entire white collar/financial crimes aspect to the book was something totally new for me, from vocabulary to an understanding of how that kind of investigation might play out, and I found it really interesting to read and a unique antagonist as far as not making the romance too easy. I felt like Samiah was perhaps a little too understanding toward Daniel at the end, but they’re both adults and it was also refreshing to see them be able to think through situations and understand where the other was coming from and how sometimes, things have to be done and there maybe aren’t perfect options. I appreciated that maturity, though perhaps I’m not that mature, because I don’t think I would have forgiven quite as easily(?), fully(?) as Samiah. Haha. But who knows, with the right person…Samiah’s probably the smart one to be so understanding and not lose something that important within the bounds of what is a, truly, understandable rock and hard place situation.
This was just, overall, a great contemporary romance, complete with a boss female lead (in all senses of the word) who never once equivocated about who she was or what she’s achieved (yes) and a great central relationship showcasing equal footing from both members. The way Samiah both learns to compromise because she cannot do everything with her limited time (and shouldn’t be expected to), yet does balance (by the end) her personal, work and special-passion-project lives in a way that works for her, is inspirational and was so satisfying to read. This novel was, in equal measure, realistic to life and full of the “relationship goals” I look for in a romance. A very satisfying read.