Wow, can it be I just starred this and went on my merry way? I was all in my feelings about this one!
The premise: Ireland heads out from the city to rural Kansas to take some photos for a KS Chamber of Commerce promo campaign. She meets Caleb and Ben, roommates who are attracted to her and want more than just to help her get some photos… Oh, and did I mention that Ireland is plus-sized?
The characters: I love Ireland! She is multifaceted, emotional, spontaneous, loves who she is (even while she is insecure about how others feel), and isn’t afraid to flaunt. As a plus-sized woman myself, she speaks to me as a woman who is comfortable in her own skin, but super aware of how she thinks others perceive her. Not all curvy women are either super-accepting, or super-insecure about their bodies. For 90% of us it’s a journey, and it’s constantly being affected by what we are taught, our environments, and our own self-acceptance. I like that we’re catching her kind of in the middle of that and that (view spoiler).
The first hero we meet is Caleb, all-American nice guy farmer with an emotional side. I absolutely loved him at first. I also kind of didn’t like Ben at first, either.
Ben’s ex-military, PTSD, somewhat of a Dom attitude (this is NOT BDSM, his tendencies just remind me of some Dom tendencies). But then Sierra Simone gave Ben his first chapter in his voice. And I fell in love with Ben more than Caleb. So even though this is not a triangle, I was #TeamBen. He’s messy and commanding, and messed up, and loveable all at the same time. That’s attractive to me. Caleb’s more of a puppy dog–cute and cuddly, and understanding. Put them together and you’ve got the perfect guy.
The Plot (aka The Sex): So, I came to this title (or was reminded about this title) after I went to a writing workshop where the presenter (author Naima Simone) mentioned that “Sierra Simone knows how to write a sex scene!” I’m always looking for someone who really knows what they’re doing when it comes to a sex scene, because I always feel like I need help in this area of my writing (I do a lot of fade-to-black, and that’s part of the reason). When I found out Sierra wrote this book, I remembered it was on my TBR list. Fate. I had to read it.
After a few chapters where I was seriously uncomfy at my desk at the office (in a very public place with a lot of dudes), I posted on Insta, “Do Not attempt to read this at work. You will burst into flames and catch your desk on fire.” It is that hot. Some people were disappointed there was no M/M sex, but I’m glad there wasn’t. I wanted everything–especially the sex–to be about affirming Ireland. And they did. A lot. Um yeah.
What I wasn’t expecting was the rest of the story being so wonderful. It wasn’t just a pause between moments of sex, it was a full story. And not just for Ireland and her weight concerns. We saw an arc for Ben, we saw the town characters, we saw how people deal with intolerance. It made you cry and laugh and feel sexy and satisfied. And I had high expectations going in. This surpassed them.
Preferences/Reservations/Overall: My one sticking point is the “throuple” but I want to make it clear, this is MY issue NOT the author or the story (hence the 5 stars). If you read the blurb, it is clear this romance is a threesome and not a love triangle. I knew that going in. I guess because I immediately identified with Ireland, I was disappointed in the fact that this is the relationship she ended up with. Why? Because it’s not a conventional coupling. I’m okay with a throuple in general, but here, I wanted to show that yes, even a plus-sized woman can have the relationship that the magazines and the TV shows talk about: the rich tall buff guy doesn’t always have to get the skinny, movie-star gorgeous girl. Sometimes that guy wants the voluptuous chick with the streak of purple hair. I got over myself for Ireland, Caleb, and Ben, because this works here. But I still think even more envelope-pushing in our society would be to have a Rebel Wilson-type end up with a Chris Hemsworth-type in a penthouse in Manhattan. A throuple would be reasoned away “as something weird, anyway.” Again, just me.
Overall– this was a scorcher romance that spoke to me on so many levels! It checks all the boxes. Made me sing some Drake afterwards.