by Georgia Beers
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Publication Date: November 13, 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:
For Addison Fairchild, success is a guarantee. Groomed since childhood to run a division of Fairchild Enterprises, she takes her birthright seriously. Maybe a little too seriously if you ask her friends. But work is so much easier than the rest of her life. Her employees hate her, her best friend is worried about her, and her last date was hide-in-the-restroom awkward. If all that wasn't bad enough, she's stuck with a new cheerful-happy-annoyingly-morning-person assistant just when the head of FE is about to choose a successor―a job Addison wants so badly, she can taste it.
For Katie Cooper, money has never been important. That is, until her father gets dementia and needs full-time care. As the bills start to pile up, Katie takes a second job as a temporary personal assistant. Two minutes and one spilled cup of coffee later, she's sure she's not ready for Addison Fairchild―her hard head, her know-it-all attitude, or her gorgeous face.
Forced to work together, Addison and Kate discover that opposites really do attract.
I’ve read several of Ms. Beers books before and I frequently recommend her to others as a reliably good and prolific f/f writer. Unfortunately, while there was plenty of the usual goodness I expect from her, there was also one particular plot point that detracted from my enjoyment of the book.
Katie has moved back in with her parents to help – financially and otherwise – her mother cope with her father’s quickly deteriorating Alzheimer’s. She’s currently nannying for two twins, but when her best friend recommends her for a job as a part-time assistant for four months – at an amazing pay rate – she can’t turn it down, even if the woman is rumored to be a complete bitch. And Addison, the oldest daughter of the founder of Fairchild Enterprises, is without a doubt not easy to get along with. She’s a workaholic control freak, and even an emergency hospital stay isn’t enough to sell her on the idea of delegating, especially with her mother retiring at the end of the year and her successor still unnamed. Katie picks away at her, however, in more ways than one, ending up with a kiss in the office. Addison’s mother is very firm about even the appearance of sexual harassment to the point of banning fraternization, however, and Addison, as the assumed heir to the company, needs to follow all the rules to a tee. Is their chance at a relationship worth sacrificing both their futures with the company?
“Would you mind if I came up with some ideas?”
“Are you kidding? I’d love it. One less thing for me to worry about.”
Katie feigned a gasp and sat forward.
“What?” Addison asked, confused worry on her face.
“I think you actually, finally just used your personal assistant. To personally assist you. There may be hope for you yet.”
I’m a pretty huge fan of the thawing-the-ice-queen trope in f/f, and Addison and Katie are adorable together. Addison is completely thrown off balance by her feelings for Katie, and Katie is such a breath of sunshine in Addison’s lie. They blatantly ignore their feelings for each other, and even after the kiss, they don’t talk about it. Their relationship, though, changes for the better, with Addison finally letting Katie help her, and her personality starts shining through. There’s a particular scene with goats (I know that sounds weird, just trust me) that had me grinning and really sold me on how good they would be together. While normally I’m not a big fan of books where the main characters don’t communicate, I found it understandable here – Katie is overwhelmed with her father’s illness, and Addison is so repressed emotionally I’m surprised she recognizes she has feelings at all. It’s sweet watching them open up to each other, and it was thoroughly enjoyable.
“Katie’s wide grin was everything. “See you on Monday. Have a great weekend.”
“You, too.” Addison watched as Katie left and felt conflicting emotions as she did so. A warmth and comfort she hadn’t felt in longer than she could remember, and a sense of abject terror, of dread.
With a hard swallow, she pushed it all down and refused to deal with it. Any of it.
After all, that’s what Addison Fairchild did best.
And she knew it.
Honestly, everything was going along quite swimmingly until almost near the end of the book. Addison’s mom, Meredith, had made several appearances earlier, and oof, she’s a piece of work. She praises Addison for her cool distance from her employees – that fact that her brother is friendly with his employees is seen as a weakness. View Spoiler »The big announcement of her successor – what Addison has been pushing herself so hard to prove that she deserves – is made at a “family” dinner that includes several non-family long-term employees, who clearly already knew about the announcement beforehand. When Addison is understandably hurt and calls in sick to work the next few days – something she’s never done before – and ignores her mom’s calls and texts, Meredith refuses to visit her own daughter in person because, in her words, “I didn’t get where I am today by kowtowing to anybody who doesn’t like my decisions.” When Addison finally gets herself together and goes to talk to her, it’s Addison who’s apologizing for running out of the dinner – which, admittedly, was less than professional, but, dear God, you just ripped her dreams away from her AND she’s still sick after being taken to the hospital in a freaking ambulance. Her mom even admits the only reason she didn’t chose her was because she works too much, along with some hints of fraternization with Katie, and Addison AGREES WITH HER! « Hide Spoiler
Ignoring the judgmental looks from others in the open office setting was something she was used to. She could hear her mother’s voice in her head. “You’re not here to be their friend. You’re here to run this company.”
Needless to say, the ending was unsatisfactory. While Addison admits and apologizes for her workaholic ways, and that she was more concerned with what her mom wanted than what she herself wanted, it happened so close to the end of the book that, while I really wanted their relationship to work out, I was left wondering if Addison would abandon Katie the next time her mom side-eyed her. I desperately wish we could’ve seen Addison stand up to her mom, instead of seemingly tacitly approving of her nonsense. The book seems to lay the blame squarely for Addison’s physically and mentally unhealthy focus on work on trying to please her emotionally distant mother, and instead of Meredith accepting her part in it, she shames Addison for it. I just honestly don’t think it’s a good idea to portray this extremely unhealthy sort of relationship without also portraying a more authentic and healthy reaction to it. Goodness knows plenty of people struggle with feeling “not good enough” and having it reinforced without directly and emphatically exposing how wrong it is and having the character stand up against it feels harmful to me. In contrast, though, we do have Katie, who’s reacting as well as could be expected to her father’s deteriorating health – accepting the bittersweetness of his lucid moments while still enjoying them, allowing herself to experience her emotions, and gently pushing her mother to accept more help, while her mother is simultaneously trying to ensure that Katie has as normal a life as possible.
Overall, while I loved the women and their relationship, the dynamic between Addison and her mother affected my enjoyment of the book. I think readers who are not sensitive to that issue will probably still enjoy the book for what it is.