Perhaps if you were not in college and attending house parties in the early aughts, this post title didn’t immediately bring to mind large sweaty gatherings full of cheap beer and questionable decisions. I am, however, in my late 30s, so I cannot hear the phrase “It’s Getting Hot in Here” without getting Nelly’s classic stuck in my head. Still, it’s an apt descriptor for this selection of books because they’re all quite steamy. Blessed be the romance novel. Shall we?
Work for It by Talia Hibbert- Olu is super depressed and casual hookups just aren’t doing it for him anymore, so he decides that he needs some time away. He’s good at running away. Soon enough he finds himself in a quaint little village in the English countryside gathering elderflower, of all things. He runs into Griffin almost immediately. Griffin, town outcast- the big burly dude who likes plants better than people. Griff has his own prodigious set of baggage, but the two are drawn together. This book starts off pretty slow, and it is A N G S T Y. The payoff is totally worth it, though. I think this is actually part of a series, but it can totally be read as a standalone. Be prepared, though, because once it heats up, it stays pretty hot.
A Lot Like Adiós by Alexis Daria- OK, let’s just start injecting second chance romances INTO MY VEINS. Whew. Gabriel and Michelle were best friends growing up, and as they prepared to go off to college, it seemed things might be blossoming into something more. Until Michelle discovered that Gabriel was secretly planning to go to school on the opposite coast. The two fall out of touch but reconnect over a marketing plan for Gabriel’s gym. This book is the follow up to You Had Me at Hola (review) which was super enjoyable, though a much slower burn than this one. This book heats up in a hurry! Michelle is one of Jasmine’s Primas of Power, and I’m hopeful that we’ll get a third book to see Ava to her Happily Ever After. This book is adorable, the family dynamics are portrayed with nuance and sensitivity and humor. The whole thing is incredibly sweet… and spicy.
Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren- I’ve read a lot of Christina Lauren at this point, but I hadn’t yet read one of this particular series. Christina Lauren has a lot of range- they can pull off a rom-com with aplomb as well as tugging mightily at one’s heartstrings. Still, I’m accustomed to a somewhat slow burn romance from them, something with a decent amount of exposition before any hanky panky goes down. Not here, my friends. Things get steamy in chapter one and do not cool off. For the entire book. There are so many clandestine hookups and so much underpants ripping that you’ll wonder how anyone could possibly have that much energy. And while it was a lot of fun, it was a workplace romance with a boss/intern relationship. The intern is in grad school and the boss is young, so it’s not an age gap problem but there is a weird power dynamic. Also, I’ve gotten super used to explicit consent in romance novels. That’s not to say anything is forced in this book, but there’s a distinct lack of protection and discussion about it before the fact. The female protagonist sort of addresses it at one point, but it’s glossed over quickly. Since I remind you all the time to wear your seatbelts, wear your masks, and get vaccinated, I’d like to remind all my readers (yes, all 5 of you, who are probably in your mid to late 30s and in committed relationships) that it is also extremely important to use protection with new partners and have open discussions about sexual health and birth control. I know a lot of STIs are easily treated with antibiotics, but the viral ones aren’t, and also, nobody wants to get syphilis even if you can cure it with Penicillin. (The first two books on this list are A+ in the protection/discussion department, just FYI.)
Alright Bookworms, I think I’ve exhausted my supply of euphemisms for sexy times, so I’m going to call it a week. Be safe, my friends!
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