This took awhile to hook me in, but it gets better and better as the story progresses. These two are absolute FIRE together, so the first half is scorching with some serious sexual tension and some great fan-worthy scenes. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of sex with “no feelings,” and this stayed in that zone for much longer than I’d like. I love little breadcrumbs along the way that clue the reader in on deeper feelings at play and those are largely absent. This couple truly didn’t like each other for a long, long time and I honestly wasn’t sure why they were so determined to keep it that way. Once they finally started to let down their walls, this transitioned into a deeper, more emotional read, and I loved the complex, intimate feel. So it was a 3-star start and a 5-star finish for me, with a final rating somewhere in between.
The story follows Sara and Sebastian, two surgeons who work in the same hospital, different departments. Sebastian is a moody jerk most days, so it was no surprise when he got into a shouting match with another doctor – though it’s surprising that it was with Sara. While Sara is a reformed people pleaser who is nice to most, there’s something about Sebastian that makes her want to fight back. After the incident at work, Sebastian and Sara find themselves in mandated counseling sessions. Things get heated at each session, so the two start working out that frustration in the bedroom. They may not be able to stand each other during the day, but Sebastian and Sara certainly fit together perfectly when their bodies are doing the talking. But the toxic cycle has to stop at some point, so Sebastian and Sara have to decide what they’ll be to each other by the end.
So let me address a couple of things before I go any further. One, there are a few mentions of the pandemic at the start of the book, and I know some readers are wholeheartedly against that. They’re brief, vague, and only at the beginning, so keep that in mind. Two, there are no mentions of this being part of a series, but it clearly is. There are a LOT of characters to keep track of in the friend group, and it was a little off-putting. You can certainly read this as a standalone, but it would’ve been nice to know going in. Three, disordered eating is a major part of the story. If that’s a trigger for you, know that it’s a huge part of the book.
My favorite part of the book is probably Sebastian. He’s a grump who knows when he’s putting his foot in his mouth, but can’t seem to stop once he’s started. I loved the little acts of kindness and his softer side, though the man is also a beast in the bedroom. He’s got an intensity to him that I enjoyed, and if he’d softened towards Sara sooner (or she towards him), then this could’ve been really great. There are small moments of softness, but the transition felt very abrupt. Sara, well, I liked Sara. She had a lot going on and she frustrated me, though I understood her hesitation to move forward. There’s a little bit of miscommunication but no real OW/OM drama, and I appreciated that these two stayed focused on each other throughout. They may have had a toxic, hate sex-filled relationship going on, but they knew there was something right about each other. If you love an enemies with benefits style relationship, then there’s a good chance you’ll love this one. I loved a lot of it, but there were definitely things that bugged me. I received an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this steamy romance.
Eight weeks of forced proximity is a long time to hate someone you’re trying not to love.
Sebastian Stremmel doesn’t need another headache. He has enough of his own without Sara Shapiro, the noisy new reconstructive surgeon, stomping all around his surgical wing with her chippy, chirpy cheerfulness.
But Sebastian doesn’t usually get what he wants.
No one gets under his skin like Sara – so much so a heated “debate” and an exam room left in shambles later, they land themselves in eight weeks of hospital-mandated conflict resolution counseling. Now they’re forced to fight fair…which quickly leads them to playing dirty when no one’s looking.
They know it’s a mistake.
They promise themselves it will never happen again.
They swear they got it out of their systems.
Author’s Note: Grumpy/recovering people-pleaser sunshine. Introverts attract. Enemies-to-lovers in the workplace. Banter, bicker, and button-pushing foreplay. Don’t tell the friend group, get jealous when the friend group tries to fix her up.
Heat: rip her clothes off before you get the front door open.
CW/TW: chronic illness, absent/negligent parents, history of disordered eating.
About the Author:
USA Today Bestseller Kate Canterbary writes smart, steamy contemporary romances loaded with heat, heart, and happy ever afters. Kate lives on the New England coast with her husband and daughter.
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