Disclaimer: NetGalley provided this copy in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to NetGalley, Bold Strokes Books, and Carsen Taite.
People often seem surprised when I say I read romance. I don’t read them as often as I’d like because I’m a fairly slow reader and generally focused on sci-fi and fantasy and because there are so many romances books out there that sometimes it’s hard to dive in. I requested this on a whim from NetGalley, and I’m glad I did! I read the majority of this in the space of a day.
The setup is fairly standard (not a bad thing). Lt. Colonel Zoey Granger is a whistleblower scheduled to testify in front of Congress on a corruption scandal. Rook Daniels is a hotshot spin doctor who “fixes” scandals when they appear. Their paths cross, sparking both attraction and frustration, but neither thinks it will go very far. Then their professional lives collide, and they have to investigate a case close to Zoey’s heart while navigating their growing connection.
I liked both the main characters. Zoey is a stand-up person with a strong sense of morality. She’s also a bit lost since the army’s been her family for years and exposing the corruption scandal has partially ostracized her. Rook is charming and devoted to her job but, like the best love interests, has a painful past that she doesn’t like to talk about. Their quick attraction to one another feels real, as do the issues that initially keep them apart. Zoey, who is honorable and truthful, dislikes Rook’s profession and feels spinning stories is akin to lying. Rook has a distrust of the military that stems from her past and can’t understand Zoey’s comfort with taking orders and her devotion to the army.
Despite the military being a large part of this story, there’s pretty good gender balance. While a lot of the characters in the military are male, women hold powerful positions, too. One of the driving forces behind the plot is Rook’s friend Sarah, who is the White House Chief of Staff. In a smaller part is her girlfriend, who’s a Chief Justice. (Details might be a little off because I read this fast.) There are some cool women on Rook’s team, and Zoey is shown to be respected by her higher-ups and to know the men who don’t respect her aren’t worth it. I liked that it took place in D.C. and the military world. I don’t know much about the military, but things seemed accurate. I especially liked the climax and the phones (can't give anything away, but you'll see when you get there). The writing was nice and clean and kept the story flowing.
One area for improvement would be the diversity. On the one hand, I enjoyed that the characters didn’t have to deal with homophobia. In a sense, it would be more realistic if they did, but it’s nice to see a lesbian couple treated like any other couple. They have their issues, but they’d have the same issues regardless of sexuality. I think there’s room for telling both kinds of stories. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure most of the characters are white. If there were clues to the contrary, I missed them. Maybe I was reading too fast!
Overall, I very much enjoyed this book, and I’ll definitely read more from Taite in the future.