This was an interesting one for me! Normally Rebekah Weatherspoon is one of my sure bets. I haven’t read anything by her I have disliked yet, but this one came close to it.
Xeni is on the East Coast, settling the will and cleaning out the house of her beloved Aunt Sable. Sable was like a mother figure to Xeni and the two were very, very close. Of course, every family has secrets, and Aunt Sable was hiding a big one from Xeni. I’ll refrain from revealing it, even though it happens two or three chapters into the book, but suffice to say Sable always thought she had Xeni’s best wishes at heart and thus forces her into marriage in order for her to claim her inheritance. She must marry Mason, a lovely, burly Scottish bloke who’s a bit down on his luck and was adored by Sable.
I fucking hate this. I hate this trope of “lol emotional and family manipulation!!!” brings about true love. I find it gross and 100% a form of abuse and I am sad this author went with this as the storyline. In certain contexts, I think this trope can work. Royal romance or historical romance are examples of marriage of convenience that can work, but in a contemporary romance taking place in roughly 2020, where female friendship is an important narrative theme, why must you introduce our protagonist in a way where she is immediately taken advantage of and manipulated by those who are supposed to love her most? I hated Sable from that point on and honestly, as the book continued I hated her whole damn family. Forced marriage and emotional manipulation are not sexy. Not to me anyway. If that floats your boat, fine, but it almost made me put down this book.
I pushed through because Rebekah Weatherspoon is an excellent writer and I love her characters. I really, really loved Xeni and honestly, I think she deserved better all around. She’s probably my favorite character in all of Weatherspoon’s books. Her humor and awkwardness were a perfect blend without getting too over the top, and her character flaws felt real and understandable. I would read a whole series about Xeni alone.
Mason was fine. He’s hot and with all of Weatherspoon’s characters, he is absolutely sexy. I really enjoyed that the author decided to make him a bisexual character, as often I find the women in couples to be written a bisexual, and I loved that they explored different sexual acts together that they were both comfortable with. I will say though I skipped basically all the pegging stuff toward the end of this book. No issue with it, it was written well, but it’s not a particular interest or kink of mine so I didn’t find it sexy. Glad to see that represented within a romance novel, however. My main issue with Mason in this book is he’s kind of…boring? Like he is the definition of a nice guy. That’s the only word I can think of to describe him. Hot and nice. Spoilers, but in the end, he ends up getting a job as a touring musician, and Weatherspoon does write him as playing music a lot in this book, but I just got a weird vibe from him. He doesn’t seem to have much drive or passion, and when he does get the job, it’s because of Xeni, or more specifically her friends and family. I don’t think books need unnecessary drama, but there wasn’t any conflict in the Mason/Xeni story. Sure he left for a while and they didn’t talk?!? But 6 months later he’s back and they’re in love like nothing happened? I don’t know, their whole insta-love relationship fell flat for me.
I don’t know how I felt about this one, to be honest. The parts I loved I LOVED. The dialog is witty and fun, Xeni is a great character and Weatherspoons writing is on point per usual, but the stuff I didn’t like I straight up HATED and almost took me out of the book. I wish Mason had more drive, I wish Xeni’s family wasn’t manipulating her even in death and I wished I liked this book a little more than I did.
Author: Rebekah Weatherspoon
Three Descriptors: Sexy, Underwhelming, Diverse