Come As You Are by Jess K. Hardy
October 18, 2022- Self-Published
Review by Angela
Even though I’d been eyeing this author’s backlist- after reading and loving her science fiction romances earlier in the year- I hesitated to take the plunge, mainly because my ARC spreadsheet was out of control. But while compiling a deals post I noticed this book was on sale and decided it was a sign. So I hit that buy now button and finally sat down to read.
I wish I hadn’t waited for so long.
Come As You Are is labeled as a Gen X romance and that was one of the things that appealed to me the most. The FMC is 46, divorced, and desperately trying to save her family’s ski resort. The MMC is a 53-year-old former famous 90’s grunge musician and addict, currently managing Little Timber, a sober living home, and needs to find work for the men under his care. She reluctantly agrees to a contract that will enable them to work for her, while being drug tested regularly and taught new job skills.
I’m a sucker for main characters that have a wealth of life experiences under their belts- both good and bad- and have come through to the other side. Maybe battered and bruised, but trying hard to pick themselves back up and find a new normal. Ashley has been through hell with her ex-husband, mainly cheating, gaslighting, and emotional abuse. But now 8 years later she is on her own and fighting hard to keep her father’s dream alive by keeping Bluebird Basin Ski Lodge afloat and out of the hands of the corporation that her ex works for. Matthew “Mad” Madigan was once a hard-partying guitarist caught up in the wild world of grunge rock. His drug use ruined his life and sent him to prison, but thanks to his parent’s unwavering support, he’s now a sober man who wants to help other men with addictions find a way to fight their demons and reclaim their lives.
The chemistry between these two is straight-up fire, palpable from the moment they first meet. He finds her beautiful and strong and she can’t stop staring at his beautiful eyes, tattoos, and muscles. As you can imagine, with so much pain in their histories they are full of doubt and lacking in trust and confidence. Neither thinks that romance is in their future, or even a good idea with the responsibilities they both have, but they are drawn together nonetheless. And wooo boy but did I enjoy the coming together. Their journey is full of steamy moments, deep conversations, and connecting on a fundamental level.
I think the thing I appreciated most about this romance was the care given to sensitive topics such as addiction, divorce, fear, and grief. Each of the secondary characters adds important moments to the story. As much as I was rooting for the main characters, I was also rooting for the men from Little Timber to succeed.
WE NEED MORE GEN X ROMANCE BOOKS! Give me all the older protagonists with messy lives and lived experiences, and bodies that don’t quite work the way they did in their younger years. I want adult children butting into their budding romances and honest conversations about mistakes and traumas and how much hard work it takes to forgive yourself and trust others. Gimme, gimme, gimme.
Content notes- frank talk about addiction and recovery, gaslighting, mentions of death of a parent, grief