How To Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams
Verdict: worth it!
For a sexy ride through a romance, for that fun cliche of changing your life via list to break out of your shell, but be aware there’s some freaky moments in here with MCs past abuser
When her flailing department lands on the university’s chopping block, Professor Naya Turner’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For one night her focus will stray from her demanding job and she’ll tackle a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a charming stranger in town on business, he presents the perfect opportunity to check off the items on her list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check…almost.
Jake makes her laugh and challenges Naya to rebuild her confidence, which was left toppled by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Soon she’s flirting with the chance at a more serious romantic relationship—except nothing can be that easy. The complicated strings around her dating Jake might destroy her career.
Naya has two options. She can protect her professional reputation and return to her old life or she can flirt with the unknown and stay with the person who makes her feel like she’s finally living again.
This book started off a lot darker than I expected, as right away we’re plunged into her fear at hearing that her abuser has returned to her workplace, where they originally met. I’m grateful I don’t have any personal experience with that situation, but reading the scenes where they interacted or even where she just thought about her past with him really affected me. They were tense and haunting and one scene was so stressful I had a few tears during / after because I was really wound up by it. So an FYI that if you’re sensitive to those situations or have your own experience, those parts will not be easy to read.
HOWEVER! Moving on to the bulk of the story, the romance and sex scenes were very easy to read. It’s pretty explicit at points, but still mostly euphemisms (“my center,” “my seam,” “his bulge,” things like that). There are definitely several full pages of their ahem encounters throughout the book, though. Be prepped to maybe not read this in public. Watching them build their trust up is pretty touching, as each slowly reveals more and more of themselves and tries to accept/deny their feelings. For a one-night-stand turned something more, there’s exactly the right amount of angst to the situation.
Their maturity in difficult situations is impressive in here. I love reading books with older characters, because they often don’t have their heads up their asses and make that frustrating choice of just not talking about their issue. Even when fairly significant obstacles arrive for this maybe-couple, they do a decent job of addressing them directly and together. That to me is the most romantic thing of all. 😍 Plus there’s a lot of literally cheesy puns, so obviously it’s the pinnacle of romance overall anyway.
I read this to prepare for The Fastest Way To Fall that I’m excited to read, and it’s only cemented my thinking that I’ll enjoy it! Plus I got a kick out of seeing “Wes the sexy trainer” mentioned a few times in this book, and now I’m super curious if I’ll see some of the characters from here in the next one! Can’t wait!
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