Reviewed by Tracey Wasinger
Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.
But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?
Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest. (Goodreads)
This is a wonderful story of two Hollywood talent agents, Evelyn “Evie” Abbey and Carter Aaron, whose burgeoning romance comes to a grinding halt when they have to compete for the same job after their companies unexpectedly merge. They meet at a Halloween party, being segregated off to the singles only booze table, where they spend hours chatting each other up and decide they really kind of like each other. Despite their reservations about dating someone in the same profession, they have a great first date which ends with a mind blowing, making it to third base sexual experience. From that promising start, it starts to go downhill when their now joint boss, Brad, a misogynistic ass, pits them against each other in the workplace with both of them competing for the same job. This is the same job Evie has been doing for years and doing it well.
“I tried nice, Carter,” she says, “and here I am, fighting to keep my job–a job I’m more qualified for if we’re being honest. You might be the one everyone likes, but I’m the one who gets the job done. So stay out of my way”
It quickly spirals down into a battle of the sexes, with neither one knowing if they want to date or hate each other. Hijinks ensue through a series of pranks and practical jokes on each other, while both of them know deep down that they still, really, really like each other.
“I might want to watch him suffer, but I don’t want him to be miserable. Because you like him, my brain teases in a sneering whisper. Really, really like him. My brain is such an asshole.”
I absolutely loved Evie. She is without a doubt one of my favorite heroines of any romance I’ve read this year. It’s one of the best books I have read this year, and it’s underlying feminist theme holds an important message in today’s world. It really evolves into a story about a woman’s place and treatment in the workforce, with the romance becoming somewhat secondary in the plot.
The boys club atmosphere at their office, which Evie’s boss, Brad, propagates does suck Carter into its nasty swirl a time or two. But, he is Evie’s smart hero, so he does manage to pull himself out before he’s in too deep.
“I think I’m only now realizing how hard it must be to be a woman. Too thin or not thin enough. Do your job flawlessly, but don’t show up any of the men. Speak up, but don’t be bitch. Smile. And then you have people like Brad totally playing into it.”
The awful working conditions that Evie keeps getting pushed into just make her frustrated and miserable, which translate into being frustrated and miserable at Carter. Knowing that she is the best at the job, the one with the most experience, but with no way to break that workplace sexism. She is a smart, funny and strong character….and you just can’t help but cheer her on throughout the book in hopes that she gets the best of her boss. The issues she is dealing with are issues that are so relevant in the world today, and they show her handling them with class and dignity. You would actually kind of like to adopt her and her group of friends and hang out with them every weekend. The group of friends surrounding Evie and Carter are very well drawn, and totally interesting in their own right.
Carter makes a great hero for Evie. He’s not your bulked up alpha guy, he’s just the kind of guy that every woman looks for when she’s looking for forever. He’s kind, smart, funny, stylish, caring….and just hot enough! The pranks between he and Evie are never mean spirited or ugly, and watching Carter go without coffee was pretty funny. There is one scene with condoms and a dog that you just need to read for yourself because it is laugh out loud funny.
The emotions are intense during the sex scenes, moving into lighthearted laughter when the mood strikes. I love it when writers show laughter in the sex scenes, because…..well, that’s how life is. The scenes are sweet and emotionally fulfilling, they are written so that you can almost feel how wonderful is for Evie and Carter.
“…and I wonder why we waited so fucking long for this, how we managed to let everything else get in the way, because this–fuck–nothing compares to this.”
While Evie falls in love with Carter, you will be falling in love with her. She does, as all heroes do, triumph in the end. The bad guy boss gets a very satisfying comeuppance at Evie and her friends’ hands. Carter finally reacts to working in such a prejudiced and woman demeaning environment just the way you want him to, and it reinforces what an exceptional man he is. Evie and Carter get their HEA without either one compromising their values and morals. This is a complete stand-alone story, told in alternating POV, and the authors did a very good job of combining the light-hearted and sexy side with darker and uglier issues. Don’t stream an iffy rom-com on TV this weekend! This book does rom-com the way it should be done. I’ve never read these two authors before, but I’m going to find their other books…fast! Overall, it’s just a really great addictive read, and I didn’t want to put it down….I didn’t put it down, I read it in one sitting.