I received an email regarding an ARC for Emily Goodwin’s Side Hustle. Given that I love to read romance and review it, I figured I would sign up for the ARC and introduce myself to a new author. This is clearly my first experience with Emily Goodwin, so I was excited to figure her out as a writer.
Side Hustle is the second book in Emily Goodwin’s Dawson Family series. I did not get a chance to read Quinn and Ashton’s story, but, given this story, I’m apt to read it in the future. Side Hustle follows Scarlet and Weston. Weston is the oldest son/brother in the Dawson family. And Scarlet is the oldest sister in her family. These two come from two very different backgrounds. The Dawson family is the prototypical loving family. Both parents are engaged in the family, and the brothers and sister are very involved in each other’s lives, even as adults. Weston’s story is the one of single dad. His wife and his son’s mother left him early. He is former military who returned to his hometown to work in law enforcement. He feels guilty that his son’s mother left him so early, so he overcompensates by being everything to his son. He is an amazing dad, but he also has a family who helps him raise his son.
Scarlet comes from the polar opposite situation. Her mother dies when Scarlet is a teen, and her drunk father comes back into her family as a guardian. However, Scarlet is tasked with raising her younger sister and brother, as her father is an alcoholic. Needless to say, they live in poverty, and Scarlet must do anything she can to provide for her sister and brother, even if it skirts the lines of the law. Basically, she calls herself a con artist.
As one of her cons, Scarlet signs up to become a nanny as a way to seduce a rich father and blackmail him. There is a mix-up and Scarlet ends up with Weston, who is anything but rich. However, on meeting him, she decides to try the “legitimate” profession of being a nanny. Very quickly, she falls in love with Weston’s son and eventually, Weston. However, life is never easy, and their pasts come back to cause problems for their burgeoning relationship.
I’m intrigued with Emily Goodwin’s series. I am a fan of family series, as we are given the stories of the different family members while getting updates of the characters we have read previously. This seems to be the case in Goodwin’s series. In Side Hustle, we find out more about Quinn and Asher, so we can stay invested in their story. And I imagine Wes and Scarlet will figure into the next book in the series.
As characters, Scarlet and Weston have chemistry. However, I did think their romance was rushed. She had only been in the house a week before they were already physical. For me, this oftentimes seems unbelievable, and I like to read characters who take a bit longer to fall in love. Thankfully, Goodwin slows them down a bit after their first experience, and she builds their sexual tension for later. When they finally fully consummate their relationship, you root for their success, and it seems more natural.
However, there is always trouble in paradise, and my heart ached at one point for Scarlet as she reveals her truth. I tend to love heroines like her, ones who are a bit broken and sullied by life experience. When they really find themselves after finding the love of the hero and recognize their value, they become the most important person in the story, the redemption. Scarlet embodies this type.
My biggest criticism for this story is its length. There were times when I didn’t think Goodwin needed to include every step of Weston and Scarlet’s story. It seemed like we were given every thought, feeling, and action. I think a bit more revision could help this, so the story didn’t drag along at times.
That being said, I think Side Hustle is an easy read about two people finding love after pain. Two broken parts finding a wholeness in each other makes for a feel-good read in the end.