⭐️⭐️ Problematic

In case you’re wondering…. there is a LOT of cheating in this. I felt gross about the relationship from the first 10% of the book on, because our “heroine” was having dirty dreams about her sister’s guy after only a 5 minute conversation with him. I pretty much loathed her the entire time. The writing itself is actually good and the book gets a lot better in the middle, but it’s very much a story about justifying cheating. And while I like reading the occasional book about realizing you’re with the wrong girl, I definitely DO mind cheating. There’s a way to execute this story that wouldn’t feel all kinds of wrong, but that’s not how this one plays out.

The story follows Valerie, a young woman who meets a cute guy at a coffee shop. When he pays for her drink, sparks fly so Valerie asks him out. Unfortunately, Jake has just started seeing someone so he declines. Fast forward a few weeks later, and Valerie realizes that Jake is the new guy her sister’s been seeing. They both acknowledge that there’s a connection there but resist the pull. Months later, Jake helps Valerie get a new job, but it means they’ll be spending a lot more alone time together – which doesn’t seem like the best idea since they’re already fighting the attraction. When events bring them even closer together, there’s no denying it any longer.

Before I go any further, I have to say that I actually did like the writing style. I think if the beginning and end had been executed differently, I would’ve been okay with the middle. That’s going to sound vague but there’s an event midway through that SORT OF makes their actions justifiable. Unfortunately, that’s not the case at the beginning or the end. No comment about the end, but I can say that within the first 15% Valerie is dreaming about a future with Jake, getting drunk with him, touching him, holding hands, having dirty dreams… all kinds of things you should not being doing with your sister’s boyfriend. And that’s before she agrees to take a job that will bring them closer. This definitely would’ve read better with dual perspective, because left alone with Valerie’s thoughts, I mostly just thought she was a TERRIBLE sister. I went into this hoping for a complicated slow burn romance set in the workplace and got something else entirely. I would consider reading more from the author in the future because I enjoyed the writing style, but it just wasn’t enough to get past how much I disliked both of these characters. I appreciated receiving an ARC via NetGalley (and am voluntarily leaving a review), but I can’t say that this one was a winner for me.

Release Date: June 23rd

Amazon: https://amzn.to/37K1QxA


BLURB:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author S.C. Stephens comes a complex romance about finding your purpose, living your dreams, and loving your soul mate.

Valerie would never do anything to hurt her sister, but when the man of Valerie’s dreams turns out to be her sister’s new boyfriend, remaining loyal to her family becomes increasingly difficult. Valerie knows nothing can ever happen between her and Jake, but that doesn’t prevent her from growing hopelessly fond of him.

By keeping her distance, Valerie is mostly successful in pushing her feelings for Jake aside, but when she struggles to land a job after culinary school, it’s Jake who offers her the opportunity of a lifetime working with a world-renowned chef…and also, working with Jake.

Valerie’s heart twists with indecision. Does she take the job of a lifetime cooking and sailing around on a yacht, but torture herself in an isolated situation with a man who is perfectly made for her yet absolutely off limits? Or does she reject the offer that could get her so much closer to making her dreams come true?

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