Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Tropes: friends to lovers; opposites attract; slow burn; close/forced proximity; college romance; new adult romance; contemporary romance; STEM FMC
Allie Winters’s Can’t Fight It is a bit of a revelation. There are some tropes that don’t entice me as much as others, namely friends to lovers and sometimes slow-burn (specifically when the pacing is off). However, with Winters’s newest Smartypants Romance book, I found Winters’s pacing appropriate and chemistry-inducing. I was compelled forward through Winters’s romance as her main characters, Tessa and Austin, navigate moving past first impressions (Tessa is initially frightened by Austin’s large stature), learn the complexities of each other, move through life (she’s a student researcher/future grad student and he’s a boxer turned eventual business person), and fall in love. What grounds their story is their mutual respect for each other which begins as neighbors turned friends but eventually becomes attraction due to Austin’s protection and kindness for Tessa. Winters crafts Austin to be physically overwhelming, but he has the biggest heart and shows unending kindness towards Tessa. And Tessa becomes Austin’s motivation to consider more for his life. She impresses on him to stand up for himself with his father and challenge himself to attend school. Before there is love and attraction between Tessa and Austin, they are the other’s biggest ally. And this is why I fell in love with their story.
Readers should know that this is a serious slow-burn romance. In fact, Can’t Fight It is a romance between introverts, but it felt real to me. There are several lessons to be learned from this story: overcoming fear (literal and perceived); accepting that failure is a part of the learning process; and recognizing that loving and protecting someone doesn’t make them a burden; it’s a byproduct of one’s love for the other. Smartypants Romance continues to tell compelling stories.
In love and romance,