Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2
This year has found us quarantining due to a pandemic. One of the highlights of my pandemic sheltering at home was falling in love with Sarina Bowen. Through much of April, May, June, and July (I believe), I pillaged my way through her Brooklyn Bruisers, True North, Ivy Years, Him & Us, WAGS, and most recently, Man Hands and Hush Note series. There is something incredibly addicting about Sarina Bowen’s brand of romance. I believe it’s a combination of sweetness, sass, and seriousness that bowls you over with each new story. Even more, her characters feel like you and me even her professional hockey players. That relatability invests you in Sarina Bowen’s storytelling, and before you know it, you’ve binge read a series or two or three, and you simply want more. Which leads us to her newest book, Loverboy.
Now, I am a huge fan of romantic suspense or stories with intrigue and suspense. Moonlighter, a crossover story between Bowen’s Brooklyn Bruisers and newest series, The Company, introduces us to the world of Loverboy. We know that The Company (not really its name…that’s a secret that only a handful of people now, and they’d have to kill you if they found out) is a top security agency headed by Max Bayer, the brother of Eric Bayer from Moonlighter. We know in that book that The Company has identified corporate espionage that seeks to undermine various industries around the world, and they believe the culprit, the villain behind all of this, is Xian Smith. When we leave that book, nothing has been settled, the case is ongoing, and The Company must bring in additional resources to work to undermine Xian Smith.
Enter Gunnar Scott, one of Max Bayer’s partners in The Company, and his West Coast leader. Gunnar has been summoned to the New York office to help with identifying the culprit behind some murders as well as working with the New York operatives to connect that terrorist to Xian Smith. Unfortunately, in order to do this, Gunnar must pose as a barista for a pie bakery in SoHo, one owned by a woman from his past who railroaded his plans for the future and forced him to change his path. Posy, the owner of Posy’s Pies, is a taskmaster, precise in all that she does. Her business is fairly successful, but her life is far from perfect. When Gunnar interviews for the job as her barista, she is not enthused with the idea, but he proves himself. As Gunnar and Posy work with each other daily, they draw closer to each other, and they realize that their perceptions of the past might have been skewed. Yet, as they begin to fall for each other, Gunnar’s real job threatens Posy’s life, and his time in New York is really meant to be temporary. Will Gunnar and Posy get their second chance? That is the big question, isn’t it?
So as she has done before, Sarina Bowen captivates you with Loverboy through the chemistry of Gunnar and Posy. I mean, Gunnar’s occupation is basically spy work, so at times it seems incredibly beyond a reasonable person’s experience. Yet, Bowen makes him relatable. To a certain degree, Gunnar has a little bit of Peter Pan syndrome. He’s living the life of a playboy, never needing to settle down and make any long-term commitments. He hates New York and loves his life in California. That is…until he reconnects with Posy. In her, Sarina Bowen crafts a heroine who is incredibly independent, strong, and sees the world with an optimism that is contrary to Gunnar’s worldview (one that is reasonable for him given his past). She cares for her sister and nephew; she’s finally past her need to please her manipulative father; and she’s moved beyond the failure of her marriage even though his new girlfriend frequents her bakery daily. At first glance, these two don’t work in theory. However, in romancelandia, they make for the best type of relationships. And this is definitely the case with Gunnar and Posy. There is a bit of a slow-burn for these two, yet that does nothing more than build another level of suspense in Bowen’s Loverboy. Therefore, as a reader, you have the suspense of Gunnar and Posy recognizing their “rightness” along with the suspense and intrigue of the case that Gunnar, Max, and their other operatives are trying to solve. Each turn of the page brings about a surprise which makes reading this story an experience.
There is comedy, there is chemistry, and there is corruption. All of these conspire to make Loverboy a compelling read. It’s meant to titillate the reader, drawing them into this new Sarina Bowen world of The Company, and for this reader, I’m intrigued and ready for more. There is a cavalcade of characters to draw from in this book. Max, Scout, Duff, and Pieter have the potential for more, and for a binge reader who fell madly in love with Sarina Bowen as a storyteller, this feels like a treasure load. Now, is everything perfect with Loverboy? No. There are a couple of spots that gave me some whiplash of confusion. Yet, they are negligible in the breadth of the story. Ultimately, Loverboy is edge-of-your-seat fun, giving you butterflies while squeezing your heart and tickling your funny bone all in one.
In love and romance,