I couldn't put this book down, but sadly its not because I loved it. I just...couldn't look away.
Brinkley (yes...Brinkley; no this isn't set in California) is a paid "heartbreaker." Her specific department is Egos: taking a-holes down a notch after they fuck with female co-workers' careers. The opening scene of this novel was a revenge fantasy dream come true: I was HERE FOR IT.
Then, she meets her mark, Mark. Who not only doesn't seem to fit the Ego profile but also is obviously very very sexy. The takedown goes south (after he *ahem* does that for her) and shortly thereafter B's boss announces they're hiring male heartbreakers. Who's in the Ego department? None other than Mark himself. Shenanigans and (many) sexy times ensue.
Listen, the whole femme fatale using men's biases against them thing is kind of awesome. It's so rare we women get to see that! Unfortunately, the execution in H4H lacked nuance. I found the depictions of gender extremely 1D and transphobic. Mark was The Good Guy and everyone else was shit...except he also pulled a bunch of shit moves from making fun of her for mistaking who opened his door to the final twist.
I also struggled with the writing—it felt like a lot of telling and not as much showing and honestly the sex scenes left me a bit confused. I'm still wondering how they got the paint out of her vagina... Others have commented that the geography didn't make sense but I was confused by the number of Ubers she took and her giant apartment...
Ultimately, I found myself thinking of other books and media that "did it better," from Uptown Thief (women taking charge of their lives and getting revenge after being underestimated) to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (revenge fantasy) to Get a Life Chloe Brown (cranky cat) to Never Been Kissed (...I won't spoil this part), the MCU (Natasha in every movie EXCEPT Black Widow...) to name a few.
I will say, the final twist and conflict caught me by surprise which was a delight, as was the way in which Mark and B reunited. However, this book also fell into the trap of a rushed and unsatisfying conclusion and no epilogue. Even B's gallery success felt hollow and unconvincing because it felt too unrealistic...
All in all I really WANTED to like this book. Parts of it were delightful and fun (her takedown of old friends! All the sex!) and I'd give this author another chance because she hooked me in with the story.
CWs: toxic parenting, psychological and emotional abuse
Sex tags: cunnilingus fingering, PIV, dirty talk, blow jobs, public sex (ish), paint play
Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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