So Flocked by Sarah Estep
October 26, 2023
Review by Melanie
Discovering a new-to-me author always delights me especially when their authorial voice works for me. I discovered Sarah Estep’s debut, Keyed Up, earlier this year and it was a true rom-com, witty and sharp and full of sexual tension between two incredibly likable MCs. I was hooked by her writing style and when she announced the next book in her Brunch Bros series, it quickly became one of my most anticipated reads of the year. The cleverly titled So Flocked does not disappoint. Featuring two characters who make brief but memorable appearances in the first book, So Flocked uses the backdrop of a wedding – specifically the wedding of the couple in the first book – to draw us back to Crane Cove, Oregon, a small picturesque town that would be right at home in a Hallmark movie except with way more sex.
Jordy, one of the aforementioned brunch bros and best friend of the groom, is a professional football quarterback careening headlong into the twilight of his career. Well into his late 30s, he only has less than a handful of viable seasons left in his bruised and battered body and no real plan for what comes next. I’ve read my fair share of sports romances featuring athlete heroes and what I loved about Jordy (aside from the fact that the author used the actor Glen Powell in her vision board for the character) is that he’s a true softie and not even hiding it behind his gruff exterior. No, with Jordy, you pretty much get what you see, and what you see is a very attractive, kind, sweet, lovable hero who falls for the heroine basically the moment he lays eyes on her. Jordy, much to my delight, is no smooth talking Casanova when he meets Annie, despite his reputation as a ladykiller who can pretty much get it whenever he wants it.
Annie, cousin and close friend of the bride, is newly armed with a Ph.D. in ornithology (the study of birds, hence the cleverness of the title) and also recently out of a long-term relationship that went sideways long before she finally pulled the plug on it. Usually, romance novels give us contrast with their characters, grumpy/sunshine being one such example. In this book though, the author gives us two characters who are both sunny, and cheerful for the most part, even while both are struggling to answer the question of “what’s next”, in terms of their professional lives. Annie is also hell bent on moving on from her previous relationship by using the old adage that the best way to get over someone is by getting under someone new. (Never fear, she’s not pining for her ex or still harboring any romantic feelings for him, she just wants to move on).
When these two collide (literally) in a very memorable shower scene in the (only one) lighthouse they’re forced to share for three weeks, it naturally follows that these two attractive and single and horny people may as well make the most of their forced proximity with a fling that comes with a clear expiration date. No feelings, no attachments, just some good old-fashioned orgasms. And bang they do. This book is delightfully horny in the best possible way but also, every single sex scene is there to serve the story, the slow evolution of Jordy and Annie’s journey from just friends with benefits to best friends with developing feelings to I see you, I get you to the eventual oops, I am deeply in love with you.
Another thing I adore about this book that was also prevalent in the first book is the male friendships. The brunch bros, consisting of 4 long-time friends, are delightful, full of feelings and even tears as they come together to celebrate Graham’s wedding to Eloise. They truly love each other and aren’t afraid to tell each other that, There is no sign of toxic masculinity, just honest and real friendships and men being sappy and vulnerable with each other, something that is all too often missing in romance novels.
Secondly, I adore a competent heroine and Dr. Annie Price is a bona fide expert in her field. I love the passion she has for her particular area of academia and I also love the way she makes it clear how hurtful and offensive it is when people diminish her credentials by explaining that she’s “not a real doctor”. But mostly I love how much Jordy respects her brilliance and is in complete awe of her intellect even as he struggles with the notion of never quite measuring up with his own.
This is just a pure fun read, from the very first page to the last. If you’re into angst heavy books with lots of drama, this may not suit but if you, like me, just want a rollicking good time, a healthy amount of steam, and two delightful and endearing characters falling hard for each other, then this absolutely fits the bill. As with her debut, the author has also peppered this book with several easter eggs hinting at future pairings and I can’t wait to see who the couple in the next book is going to be.
Content Notes: motorcycle accident, hospitalization