Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2
As I was reading Aly Stiles’s contribution to Penny Reid’s Smartypants Romance world, the words that oftentimes came to mind was “uproariously funny.” In the same vein as Max Monroe or Amy Daws or Meghan Quinn, Street Smart will leave you in stitches. I found myself laughing out loud on multiple occasions through Stiles’s wordplay and allusions. This story is so very tongue-in-cheek that you can’t help but fall in love with her characters, Marcos aka Mark-O aka Mark Oliver and Eva. This story has this sense of funny that feels necessary for the underlying story of her hero, a product of the foster system. While Stiles doesn’t divulge the gravity of Marcos’s past until much later in the story (she makes her readers work for those details just as her heroine, Eva, must), the foreplay of hilarity in her story acts as a salve to the sting of his truth. As the story progresses, Marcos must fight against making easy choices by adopting the lazy habits of wealthy businessmen in order to maintain his sense of integrity and ethics in the workforce. This isn’t a motif often explored in romance, and Stiles uses humor and romance to enlighten her readers to ethics in business, to a world where non-profit business should rule the world.
I think that’s what I liked best about Street Smart. Stiles doesn’t try too hard to make you fall in love with Marcos and Eva; it just happens naturally because they are people who hold high levels of integrity, are intelligent, and beautiful. That Eva and Marcos fall for each other isn’t a surprise or problem to be solved in Street Smart. In fact, while this is a romance, the romance seems tangential to the story of ethical business. What I love the most about Aly Stiles’s Street Smart is that it’s exactly what this community of writers inspired by Penny Reid suggests…”smartypants romance.” This book will challenge your thinking while stealing your heart, and you’ll walk away knowing that the time spent reading Marcos and Eva’s workplace romance was well worth it.
In love and romance,