Review: Winning Move – Skye Kilaen
by Skye Kilaen
Series: Clover Hill Romance #1
Also in this series: Visible Mending
Publication Date: September 13, 2022
Source: the author
I received an advance review copy of this book from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Marek's nerdy charm is an unstoppable force. Gina's anti-dating policy is an immovable object. Or maybe it's not so immovable? A small town bisexual romance.
No dating. That’s longtime divorcée Gina Kersey’s rule, and she’s sticking to it. Comfortably settled in her hometown of Clover Hill, she’d rather play board games than risk getting played herself. For company, she has her beloved if slightly meddlesome Great Aunt… who’s somehow made Gina promise to break her rule. She has to ask someone out. On a date. Maybe she could skip town instead?
Outgoing video game translator Marek Haas flew across the country to pick up the sports car of his teenage dreams—to celebrate getting over a breakup from the absolute worst boyfriend, not because he’s having a midlife crisis at thirty-five. In his automotive fantasies, though, the car didn’t break down in the middle of small-town nowhere.
Marek’s not a damsel in distress, but when Gina comes to his rescue on the side of the road, she can’t believe her luck. He’s handsome, charming, and most importantly, just passing through. Promise, meet loophole! When he turns out to be adorably nerdy as well, they skip drinks at the pub for a fun-filled night in Gina’s bed.
The problem? Marek’s vintage car needs parts the garage doesn’t have, so he’s stuck until they’re found. Meaning every time Gina turns around, her hot one night stand is still in her town, being all cute and friendly and sometimes taking his shirt off. Even worse, he seems to be falling for Clover Hill… and Gina might be falling for him.
Can Gina overcome her fears and take a chance on a geeky sweetheart who makes her weak at the knees, or will their unforgettable one night stand end up as nothing more than a memory?
A high heat contemporary queer M/F romance novella with two bisexual main characters and a guaranteed HEA.
Tropes: “no dating” rule, vacation fling, one night stand, seasoned romance with characters 35+, small town, nerds in love, bisexual romance.
Detailed content warnings will be available in the book's front matter and on the author's website.
I gobble up everything by Skye Kilaen, so when I saw she was writing the first book in a multi-author series set in a queer small town? Oh heck yes. And it’s exactly what I wanted – an adorably geeky and queer small town romance.
Gina has a comfortable life in Clover Hill. She splits her time between working at the front desks of the vet clinic and her uncle’s garage, she plays board games at the local library, and she visits her Great Aunt Ophelia at her retirement home. Her life is full and the last thing she wants is to introduce all the stress of dating into her life. But when Ophelia makes her promise to ask out the next likely candidate, she can’t refuse her. When Gina runs into a stranded motorist a few days later, and he’s both hot and adorable (he waves at a dog!), she decides he’s perfect. After all, he’ll be gone as soon as his car’s fixed. But after their hot night together, it turns out Marek’s stuck in town for longer than expected. It’s obvious Marek is falling for Clover Hill (and maybe even Gina) but will Gina’s fears around dating ruin their chances before they even start?
“She should have been able to run an errand on Wednesday without Monday night getting all up in her actual life again looking all adorable in a red Atari logo t-shirt with his sunglasses pushed up into his hair.”
Gina comes off as a bit abrasive. She has a lot of baggage from her divorce and she truly believes that, while she spends a lot of time alone, she’s not lonely, no matter what Great Aunt Ophelia thinks. After their one night stand, Marek is stuck waiting for the parts needed to fix his car. To her frustration, Gina keeps running into him – and he looks just as adorable and sexy, especially when he removes his shirt while helping out around town. She’s initially surprised every time she sees him and then hit over the head with her attraction to him. And it’s not like he’s doing anything wrong by going to the coffee shop or grocery store or board game night – in fact, he asks her if she wants him to leave – but it’s still…. unsettling in a way that Gina doesn’t want to contemplate.
“This man was impossible. Dating, even before you got to the relationship part, was at least forty-five percent misunderstandings, uncomfortable crossed signals, and feeling ground shift under your feet. Especially after you’d turned somebody down. Marek wasn’t doing this right.”
After recently coming out of a relationship that ended disastrously, he was already planning on moving somewhere new, and Clover Hill, with all its small town queer-friendly charm, might just be the place Marek is looking for. That Gina lives there? Just a bonus. Marek knows he wants to explore this thing between himself and Gina but he’s willing to go at her speed. And that’s the lovely thing about this book. They’re both bisexual adults in their late 30s and they know how to clearly state what they want. All the relationship drama comes not from a lack of communication but instead from their life experiences, and it’s honestly relatively angst-free. There was some extra drama dealing with Gina’s niece and while there’s a resolution to that plot line, I would’ve liked a little more time with her and Gina.
Overall, it’s cute, queer and geeky, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the stories in this series!
Content notes: Author’s content notes