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Released: January 11th 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published by Berkley
“This story was just adorable, wonderful, and perfect.”~ Under the Covers
Ari Abrams has always loved the weather and has been working at a local TV station with her childhood meteorological hero, Torrence Hale. Ari should be living the dream, but Torrence is more focused on battling with her ex-husband and station News Manager, Seth, than serving as a mentor towards Ari, while also creating a toxic work environment for everyone at the station. After a Holiday Party disaster between Torrence and Seth, Ari and sports reporter Russell Barringer decide to try to act on some seemingly unresolved feelings they’ve noticed between Torrence and Seth and see if nudging them back towards each other could improve things at the station for them and everyone else. While scheming and planning, Ari and Russell start to realize their own chemistry, but Ari is reluctant to let anyone see past her sunshine TV-face. As Ari starts to open up to Russell, she has to decide whether to let the mask crack or continue to face her dark days alone.
This story was just adorable, wonderful, and perfect. That’s it, right? Review over? Kidding, Kidding. But that is really the takeaway; I loved it and would recommend it to anyone and everyone. And the why is because it features really authentic and relatable characters that felt like people I’ve known my whole life. Beyond just Ari and Russell, you get to know Torrence and Seth fairly well, as well as snippets of Ari’s brother, brother-in-law and mother. None of these characters were perfect (except for maybe Ari’s niece and nephew), but they also weren’t flawed in cliché or unbelievable ways. It made it feel very natural and comforting to read and I got caught up in caring so much about the outcomes for these characters.
The reality of these characters went beyond their personalities to also include their body-types; I appreciated the intentional choice to not make Russell a washboard-abed hero. One of the quotes from the book that stuck with me was after Russell referred to himself as fat and Ari started the knee-jerk reflex to respond to him, Russell responded “It’s not a bad word. It’s just an adjective. It’s just the way I am.” He goes more in depth in talking about how his body-type has impacted him from there, but I just really found that powerful; I have trouble thinking about other romance heros I’ve come across recently portrayed this way. He’s also hilarious, sweet, nurturing and so thoughtful and conscientious, while also hiding a fiery side underneath it all.
Finally, I really found Ari’s portrayal of her depression and the way she struggled to let people see how she is truly feeling to be really honest and relatable. I think even people who don’t live with depression will find Ari’s struggle to let people see and accept all of her as something they can connect with. I’ve noticed a trend where author’s write honest and vulnerable notes at the beginning of books where sensitive and potentially triggering topics are addressed, especially when that topic in some way reflects their own life-experience, and I really like it. I would suggest everyone read Rachel’s author note at the beginning of this one, especially if you’re at all concerned about the subject matter of depression. I never find them particularly spoilery, but if you like to go in blind, definitely flip back to the front for that when you’re done!
I loved the chemistry and connection between Russell and Ari; watching them get to know each other and share secret parts of themselves was a wonderful way to watch them build emotional intimacy. And when their physical intimacy starts to build, after a very respectful but somehow still scorching hot caretaking moment? Wow. And their nicknames for each other? Just adorable.
While I own several other RLS novels, this was the first I’ve actually read and I can’t wait to dive back in to another world she’s created, but I know Ari and Russell will always hold a special place in my heart due to the amazing crafting done in this book.
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