by Andie J. Christopher
Series: One Night in South Beach #5
Also in this series: Before Daylight
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
A Romantic Dreamer
Letty Gonzalez is a true romantic. She’s spent her life waiting for flowers, poetry, the grand gesture that will finally sweep her off her feet—without any luck. After her latest dating fiasco, she’s ready to give up on the idea of Prince Charming—but not on down and dirty fantasies about her new boss—gorgeous, out-of-her-league Max Delgado.
A Restless Romeo
Max is more pragmatic than romantic—and with his looks and charisma, beautiful women usually fall at his feet. Bubbly, generously curvy Letty just isn’t for him, and maybe if he finally lets his grandmother set him up with someone new, Letty will finally believe it.
A Sultry Surprise
But the senior citizen’s matchmaking is trickier than anyone anticipated. And when Letty and Max find themselves stuck in Key West together for a seductively sexy weekend, one kiss is enough to light a fire neither of them wants to put out . . .
Trigger warnings: abusive family dynamics, fatphobia, drug addiction
Grumpy hero? Plus-size heroine? Tropetastic! This is the fifth book in the series, but I think it could be read as a standalone, as I’d only read the previous book (about Max’s sister) and I didn’t feel lost, though what I suspect are several other previous couples make appearances.
After Letty’s breakup with her ex-boyfriend left her blacklisted from the art world, landing a job as an assistant to a talented sculptor preparing for a major exhibition seems like a godsend. What Letty isn’t prepared for is her attraction to her hot new boss or the fact that he tries to fire her before she even starts working. It turns out that his scheming grandma hired her, but Max is won over by her tenacity and, frankly, the fact that she is excellent at her job – and their chemistry together. Letty and Max eventually agree to give in to their attraction – *after* her contracted period as his assistant is over. Now, I’m sure you can guess whether they managed to make it a week and change without ending up in bed… Max and Letty are both struggling with their own demons, however, so can they find their happily-ever-after without sabotaging it themselves?
While this is definitely a steamy romance – Max and Letty have some serious chemistry – there’s also a lot of angst. Max is practically a hermit – a very hot, bearded “ruggedly masculine” hermit. He avoids other people, especially women, because he thinks that because he struggles with his temper he’s destined to turn into his abusive father. Letty is plus-size (well, a size 14) and struggles with her body image due to constant childhood comparisons by her mother to her model sister. One of the nice things, though, about the book is that Letty and her sister Elena have a good relationship, despite their differences and their mother’s machinations. Regardless of that, between her mother’s constant harping on her weight (she seems to think the only way to make Letty happy is to make her thin) and her ex-boyfriend’s nasty comments that he only stayed with her to get at her parent’s money, Letty feels ugly and unloveable. With Max, however, she finally feels cherished, but the specter that he’s only using her for her connections looms over their relationship. While there are other “bad guys” in the book, in terms of conflict, they’re basically their own enemies.
At times, it felt like this book was going to give me whiplash. One second it was a sweet body positive romance, the next we were back in the angsty headspace of one of the characters. It felt like the angst almost overwhelmed the book, and it seemed to take the majority of the book before either character made any progress in addressing their negative thought patterns. In the end, I wasn’t entirely convinced by how Letty’s issues were wrapped up. Max, I think, I was more convinced by, mostly due to the “intervention” staged by his family. One of the things I loved about this book – and the previous one – was the warm, supportive family that Max, his siblings, and grandparents have cobbled together. I loved that the first person he goes to for advice is his brother. The whole “matchmaking abuela” bit, though, didn’t work as well for me in this book as it did in the last one.
Overall, though, I enjoyed this book, and I’d give it 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series, as well!