Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Sarina Bowen
Main Characters: Nate & Becca
ARC received in exchange for a honest review
I believe to speak for everyone when I say this was the most anticipated book of the series. Nate and Rebecca’s underlying chemistry has been there for a while and we all wanted to see them finally get together.
At the beginning I would have wanted things to proceed a little faster. I felt like their feelings, even with having been harbored for so long, weren’t as strong as I had expected. But then, once they got together, I loved every single moment.
“I’d like to be in charge again, Bec. And I’m not referring to the hockey team.”
“God, Nate.” She blows out a breath.
“Yeah, like that. But louder.”
Nate is exactly my kind of hero. Nerdy, kind, thoughtful. And devoted, as Rebecca points out, too. She is also a very nice heroine. Caring, independent and sassy. Her backstory speaks volume about the kind of person she is, the strong one who’s always there for others, even when her own sky is falling down.
I really liked the fact that Rebecca had been his office manager since the very beginning, because it didn’t make the whole situation sound like the usual “office romance” with the billionaire hero and the clueless, innocent heroine. They are a good match, equals. It takes her a while to see it, but the author did a marvelous job, in my opinion, at showing how great they are for each other. They are friends first, and then partners. This was a huge pro on the list.
Nate too defies the general idea of billionaire tycoon. Sure, he’s a cool, collected genius, but his social awkwardness made him more relatable and appealing. Sometimes I’m a little wary with these kinds of characters because I fear they’ll be too cold, too callous, to much of a shark. But that’s not Nate. He’s quirky. I dig quirky.
Here sits a bit cliché, ladies. I’m just another lonely nerd who’s hopelessly in lust with his assistant.
Something I also wanted to mention was that the whole situation Becca finds herself, physically, in was refreshing. It’s clear the author did some thorough research and it made the story less conventional, while also giving Nate a reason to care for her, which is never unappreciated.
The reason why it didn’t make the full stars is because of the aforementioned lukewarm initial feelings. They had both bottled them up for so long that it didn’t feel as epic at first and it took a little while to get there. Also, I got the main plot twist basically the first time a certain character was introduced and that spoiled the surprised for me. Sometimes I think romance readers already know every single trick in the book and placing even one infinitesimal clue can ruin the final surprise.
It feels wonderful to be held by Nate. When I feel his heartbeat again my cheek, I stop thinking about him as The Powerful Nate Kattenberger. Right now he’s a guy who gives great hugs.
Last, but not least, Bingley! Oh, how much I loved that bot. He provided immediate comical relief and made me definitely wish I could have one.
“Can you give Nate a message for me?” [Rebecca to Bingley]
“Voice or text?”
“Uh, text. Tell him Rebecca sends his congratulations.”
“Certainly, my dear. Are we adding any emojis?”
“No, because we’re not twelve.”
One last thing! It was sooo cool to have a book set in the same streets I live in. Just today I went to geta bagel on a street crossing Pierrpont, and I kept thinking… which of these is Nate’s townhouse?
I grab a towel off a waiting stack of them and toss it onto the edge. “You can sit and put your feet in.”
She’s wearing a short little knit dress that’s been making me crazy all evening, so it would be easy enough for her to strip off those stockings, sit on the towel, and drop both feet in.
And that’s what she does. She eases one stocking down over a smooth knee and tugs it off.
I don’t want to stand there staring like a middle-school boy. Okay, I do want to. But I don’t want to make her uncomfortable. So I go over to the sound system instead, and I set my phone on the speaker and cue up a really old playlist. One she’ll recognize.
When I turn around again, she’s seated on the towel, both legs hanging down into the churning water. “Ah. Wow.” She looks up at me, her eyes sparkling. “Nice place you got here.”
“Isn’t it?” I toe off my shoes and kick them to the side.
The first song comes on, and it’s a Macklemore tune that we used to play far too often in our first office. Rebecca laughs immediately. “You didn’t! I haven’t heard this playlist in forever. But I’ll bet I still know every transition. Lady Gaga is next.”
“She sure is.”
Rebecca kicks her feet, making a splash. “I have a little confession to make.”
“What’s that?” I loosen my tie and slide the knot out.
“Well…” She grins up at me. “I used to have a crush on you. Back in the early days.”
My hands freeze on the tie silk. “Get out of town. You did not.”
“No, I really did.” Her cheeks are pink. “That first year especially. But you were taken, and you were my boss. Those two things made it pretty easy to tamp down, when you’re a practical girl like me.”
I walk over and drop down beside her, my back to the water, though, because I’m still wearing trousers and socks. “So how does that work, exactly?”
“What?” She gives me a sidelong glance, but then looks away again and won’t meet my eyes.
“How do you stop wanting someone? I’m a practical person, but I don’t see how that makes it any easier. Nothing seems to mute the raging attraction I have for you.”
Her chin turns quickly toward me, and I seize the opportunity to kiss her. And it only takes one kiss—one slide of my lips over hers, and I’m on fire again.
We’re facing opposite directions, so it’s awkward as hell. But I don’t even care. I take greedy sip after greedy sip of her mouth, until she pulls back to stare at me. Her color is high and her eyes are bright and happy. “This is like Twister.”
“It’s better,” I correct. Lady Gaga comes on, just as Becca said she would. “Are we getting into this pool or what?”
Becca kicks a foot in the water. “I’m tempted. But I don’t have a bathing suit.”
She smiles and shakes her head. “Are you really getting in?”
“We don’t have to.” I’m never going to pressure her.
Her fingers trail across the surface of the bubbling water. “But this is an adventure, right?”
“Right.” I stand up and remove my socks. She’s watching me. And I can’t read her expression. “What?”
“Just wondering what else you’re going to take off.” She smiles.
“Come here.” The order rolls off my tongue.
But Rebecca doesn’t blink. She gets up and turns toward me, curiosity in her eyes.
“You tell me. What am I taking off?”
She puts two hands tentatively on my chest, and I make myself be patient. Everything I ever wanted is on the other side of this moment. I just need us to break through this awkwardness—the “will we or won’t we” tension.
Her fingers find the top button of my shirt. “I’m not getting in the water unless you are.”
That’s a compromise I can live with. I find my lower shirt buttons and work upwards, until we meet in the middle. She pushes the two halves of my shirt apart and runs a hand down my bare chest.
My inner caveman stands up and cheers.