As 2021 comes to a close, I’m revisiting my 20 favorite romance novels of the year, and Heartbreak for Hire is one of the more underrated books on the list. Sonia Hartl is a new-to-me author (this is her adult debut), and I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this going in. As someone who reads a romance novel nearly every day, I love tropey reads… but I live for the books that surprise me. This definitely achieved that. I loved the light, playful vibes paired with such a unique, nuanced storyline. And this is sexy! It’s one of those books where you have to look past the first impression; neither the cover nor the start of the book completely reflect the overall tone. This just got deeper and more complex as the story progressed, and the romance built along the way. As I gathered quotes for this post, I was reminded how much I loved the book – and here’s hoping we get more unexpected romances like this in 2022!
Read on for my original review and plenty of quotes to give you a feel for the vibe!
This was unexpected in the BEST of ways. The nuanced storyline had me hooked from start to finish – I absolutely LOVED it! I loved how distinctive and unique it felt, with a story that gets richer and more complex as it progresses. It’s funny and sexy, lighthearted and subtle – while still packing an emotional punch that makes an impact. The contrasts and shifting perspective make for such a rich, intricate read. And the romance? Is my favorite kind of “enemies” to lovers scenario, with a side of instant attraction and plenty of sexual tension. Our sweet, cinnamon roll of a hero is a hot professor who wears sweater vests, blushes at compliments, and growls during a few seriously steamy scenes. This slow emotional burn is one of the more unique romances that I’ve read this year, and I devoured it in one sitting.
The story follows Brinkley, a woman who started an unconventional job after a breakup left her raw and hurting. At Heartbreak for Hire, Brinkley is paid to take men’s egos down a notch, at the request (and compensation) of those they’ve hurt along the way. But when Brinkley feels an immediate attraction to one of her targets – who seems to be a genuinely sweet, interesting guy – she’s forced to readjust her perspective on the job. Is she really helping others, or just adding more hate into the world? And when Brinkley’s former target, Mark, becomes her new co-worker, the friction between them sparks into something that has the potential to be a whole lot more.
So this definitely wasn’t the book that I was expecting from the somber cover and interesting blurb – it was better. Lighter, steamier, funnier, richer. Brinkley doesn’t make the most reliable narrator, and her skewed perspective allows the story to unwind in such an interesting way. This starts out sexy and focused on H4H, but the romance and personal growth are front and center throughout. I loved that Mark is such a major part of Brinkley’s journey, but she also finds strength and confidence within herself. Difficult subjects like gaslighting, sexual harassment, and more play a big role in the story, but this somehow doesn’t feel heavy. Brinkley is jaded and hurting when the book begins, so her thoughts and feelings evolve as the book progresses. There’s an intentional shift and that was great to see. I also loved Mark and Brinkley together – their chemistry is pretty powerful, and there are a few fan-worthy scenes here. The steam is sprinkled throughout the book, and every situation is important to their development as a couple. That first intimate moment reveals SO MUCH about both characters, and the subtlety is so well done. All in all, this is a refreshing, fascinating read – and I couldn’t put it down.
A smart, sexy, and witty romantic comedy—perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne—about a twentysomething who lives out every woman’s fantasy: getting paid to give men who do us wrong a taste of their own medicine. But when a previous target unexpectedly shows up at her office, she’s forced to rethink her life as a professional heartbreaker.
Brinkley Saunders has a secret.
To everyone in the academic world she left behind, she lost it all when she dropped out of grad school. Once a rising star following in her mother’s footsteps, she’s now an administrative assistant at an insurance agency—or so they think.
In reality, Brinkley works at Heartbreak for Hire, a secret service that specializes in revenge for jilted lovers, frenemies, and long-suffering coworkers with a little cash to spare and a man who needs to be taken down a notch. It might not be as prestigious as academia, but it helps Brinkley save for her dream of opening an art gallery and lets her exorcise a few demons, all while helping to empower women.
But when her boss announces she’s hiring male heartbreakers for the first time, Brinkley’s no longer so sure she’s doing the right thing—especially when her new coworker turns out to be a target she was paid to take down. Though Mark spends his days struggling up the academic ladder, he seems to be the opposite of a backstabbing adjunct: a nerd at heart in criminally sexy sweater vests who’s attentive both in and out of the bedroom. But as Brinkley finds it increasingly more difficult to focus on anything but Mark, she soon realizes that like herself, people aren’t always who they appear to be.
About the Author:
Sonia Hartl is the author of Heartbreak for Hire, as well as YA novels The Lost Girls, Not Your #Lovestory, and Have a Little Faith in Me. When she’s not writing or reading, she enjoys playing board games with her family, attempting to keep her garden alive, or looking up craft projects on Pinterest she’ll never get around to completing. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband and two daughters. Follow her on Twitter @SoniaHartl1.
More of the Best of 2021!
Top 20 of 2021: The Complete List – here
Best of 2021: Top Picks by Trope can be found here!
Best of 2021: My 10 Favorite Romance Series can be found here!
Every 5-Star Romance Novel I Read in 2021 can be found here!
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