Cover Image: Can't Resist Her

Can't Resist Her

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Member Reviews

3.5/5 

This was really cute, but didn't meet the expectations I had for it unfortunately. I liked both of the characters individually but felt like we only got to scratch the surface of their attraction to each other and their relationship. I thought the conversations in the book were really important and handled really well, but did start to take away from the story as a whole, leaving it feeling kind of imbalanced.

The dialogue felt unnatural a lot of the time and I don't know if that's because we were swapping POV in the middle of chapters, but because of that I felt it hard to stay in the story and connect with the characters in the way that author was wanting. I think this book could have benefitted from maybe another round of edits to help it seem less stiff? There's a lot of potential and i think the story has a decent foundation, but when it comes to the characters and their relationship it felt very underdeveloped.
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(ARC copy provided in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my rating or review.)

dnf @ 36%

i just couldn't get into this, though i did appreciate the conversation about gentrification, and the queer-ness. i might go back to it one day, but right now i'm just not in the mood. ah well!
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DNF - The synopsis was obviously what intrigued me about this story & the cover art is warm & welcoming - with the promise of a great story within. Unfortunately, I should have known better than to request this. The genre isn't one I typically enjoy reading; I find it difficult to come across great books because of the way in which I approach reading. I really wanted to love this & was hopeful but ultimately this wasn't my cup of tea. I struggled to engage or care - no one seemed very deep so it made it difficult for me to care. I'm sure there is an audience for this book though.
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I was disappointed with this one. I appreciated the themes, the premise, and the cover is beautiful. I didn’t really have any issues with the story itself, but the lack of chemistry between the characters (all of them) and the formality in the conversations really shook me. These are black people from the south and I really didn’t get a feel of that at all.
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That was... Underwhelming. I was hoping for a cute romcom but everyone annoyed me and everything felt too robotic
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Thank you to NetGalley and Montlake for the opportunity to read this advanced reader copy. This honest review was based off my experience reading this eARC, which in no way biased me. All opinions are my own.

Tropes:
Small town romance
A dash of second chance? (They never dated in high school, but a kiss at the graduation party)
High School Crush
Rivals to lovers (One MC is trying to save the abandoned school the other MC is working with the company who is spearheading the redevelopment of the school’s plot)
Elementary School Teacher x Architect/Planner

It’s a slow start, the dialogue feels robotic. Everything is almost too open, what everyone thinks they say and problems instantly arise and then lead nowhere. 


Summer was mad that Aiko is working on the project to redevelop the abandoned school, but she “got over it” in like a blink of an eye.

Both FMCs flip flopped between forgetting/ignoring that they are on opposite sides of a situation, and then being mad at the other for either doing what she thinks is right or doing their actual job. When they were mad, the anger fizzed out VERY quickly. 

It also felt like every time Summer and Aiko went on a date, Summer was using it to tell Aiko why her project shouldn’t happen. Summer told Aiko about her grandma (first date), the school’s founder, and then how hard it is for Summer coming back and seeing all the changes (third date). It seems as if Summer isn’t even considering that this is Aiko’s job, or considering Aiko’s side, she’s only interested in bringing Aiko to her side. 

Summer’s POV is difficult for me to get into. Summer is quite selfish, and when she asked Aiko about her side she still was guilt tripping Aiko. “Tell me why you’re so invested in seeing our old school, and my grandmother’s legacy, turned into yet another corporate development.” Summer doesn’t even care that even if Aiko COULD do something, doing something could cost her her job, and it would be difficult to find another one because she was fired. Aiko provides precedent that the redevelopment would help the city rather than the abandoned school staying as is. Summer got very defensive when Aiko started questioning Summer’s job (as Summer has been doing for Aiko’s job) teaching TWO year olds at a private school, rather than teaching at a public school.

They seem to constantly ignore the fact that they are on opposing sides(at their cores) to give into the attraction/lust they feel for each other. The thing is, is that they are self aware about this. They mention it to their friends. They acknowledge it and then they keep repeating the cycle. 

Peach is literally my favorite character. The only voice of reason. 

Maybe its just me but the chemistry of Aiko and Summer feels surface level. It’s not deeper than the fact that they find each other attractive and that’s it. 

This book was definitely not for me.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Montlake Publishing for sending me a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. Can’t Resist Her is now available for purchase and at your local libraries.

Summer and Aiko had a Cinderella-esque meet-cute at their senior prom but quickly lost contact with each other (pretty easy when only one of them knew who the other was); over a decade later they find each other again and decide to pursue a relationship with their respective one who got away. However, in a Shakespearean turn of events, they quickly find themselves on opposite sides of the major redevelopment plan for their own alma mater. 

I absolutely adore the premise of this story and its execution; seeing how Summer and Aiko’s dual relationships with each other play out simultaneously is very entertaining to watch and incredibly well written; one minute, they’re thirsting after each other in the middle of a bar and the next they’re facing off live on the local news. These women are funny and complex and you can’t help but root for them.

One thing that didn’t sit right with me throughout the story was the overt descriptions of literally every food item that appeared in the book. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good food moment, but in this particular book it just felt so forced and out of place and I just could not look past it. Aiko does this with both food and buildings, but she works in architecture so when she has moments describing the buildings they visit and why they are the way they are it makes sense and it feels much more natural (and it happens far less frequently). This doesn’t take anything away from the story at all, but it doesn’t add much to it either; instead it just affects the reading experience.

Another moment I had an issue with was the introduction of the relationship conflict and doubt outside of the whole Romeo + Juliet-ness of the situation; it was like someone exhaled and somehow that knocked down an entire sandcastle. Come on, have a little faith in your girlfriend, she deserves better than that. However, when it was time to call people out, people were *called out* and I loved it. 

All in all, this was a fun, romantic, spicy sapphic read perfect for anytime of year (although, Summer and Aiko’s relationship could melt an igloo).
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This was enjoyable, but I found the chemistry to be lacking quite a bit in the lead characters, I think if that it improved it would definitely be a 4-5 star read for me, but without this I can’t rate higher

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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I am a little late on this one. I got it from Net Galley but I was deep in writing mode when it came out. I finally got around to reading it and it was so good! Black sapphic romances are not plentiful out here so I'm very glad I got to enjoy this one. 

Summer and Aiko's meet-cute was great. Then when they met up the second time it was just as cute. Crushes can be deep and they both had been holding onto it for so long. I loved the way their relationship progressed.

They were at odds about the old school and that was present the entire time. I wasn't even mad when things came to a head. It was expected and a very necessary part of the plot. I usually don't like that sort of drama (third act breakup) but it was done really well in this book. 

The end was super cute and super sweet which is just what I like. Definitely a five-star read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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This is amazing book I loved. I love the story of the book you feel you in the book with the characters. The writing style is amazing. It’s fast paced enjoyable read loved every paged.
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This was a great read and I have been recommending it whenever I thought of it. I loved the dual perspectives and it gave plenty of spice along with laughs and emotions. I love the build up to their relationship. I ate this book up pretty quickly. I just loved reading Black/POC Love, especially when I've been starved for it in literature.
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Thank you to Montlake and NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I got about 20% into this one, but couldn't finish. It just wasn't for me. The story just wasn't grabbing my attention. Doesn't mean it won't be great for others, I just couldn't get into it.
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A slow burn, second chance, sapphic romance between two women of color that deal with their own insecurities, estranged family and gentrification.  My only critique is that the two heroines relationship and chemistry was off. I would read more from this author in the future. 

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I started off really excited for this book but unfortunately the lack of chemistry between the characters ended with me dnf, i’m sure that many people will love it but it just wasn’t for me. i will look forward to reading more books by this author because i do enjoy the writing
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I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Shout out to Montlake Publishing and Kianna Alexander.

I’ll admit it – the cover is what got me. When I first spotted ‘Can’t Resist Her’ by Kianna Alexander on NetGalley, I was OBSESSED, and I couldn’t believe my luck when my request for it was accepted.

Skimming through the description, I was intrigued too, and I was sure this was going to be at least a four-star read… Until I actually started to, you know, read it.

The book introduces us to Summer, a teacher who just moved back to her hometown, and her high school crush Aiko, a supervisory planner at an architecture firm, who reconnect after 15 years. 

We’re told (not shown*) that the spark is still there between the women, but there’s a problem – Aiko’s firm is behind the demolition of the high school they both attended, Sojourner Truth Charter Academy, which was founded by Summer’s grandmother.

Summer and her sister are hell-bent on saving the school, despite it having been abandoned a decade ago, and the themes of gentrification and community are flung into our faces with the subtlety of an avalanche.

Also touching on family acceptance and second-chance love, the premise of the book is solid and Summer and Aiko’s characters could have been compelling, but the *amateurish writing let it all down.

Right off the bat, the dialogue is clunky and awkward, and while I soldiered on in hopes the plot would save this book for me, it sadly did not.

In one scene, Summer asks a random taco truck employee “tell me about yourself”. This is not a date, this is not two people getting to know each other in a friendly manner – she’s trying to order food, and yet she’s asking the food truck employee to narrate her life story? Who does that?!

But wait, there’s more!

The food truck woman, of course, obliges and when she tells Summer about how Hurricane Harvey not only destroyed her parents’ business, but their home too, Summer responds: “Oh no, that sucks”.

THAT SUCKS?!

The conversations between Aiko and her best friend Peaches are so clunky, it makes me wonder whether the author has ever actually listened to real conversation between real humans.

The characters also do completely absurd things like tapping their chin when they’re “thinking”, and the author’s hyper-focus on descriptions that have absolutely zero bearing on the actual story is baffling. The number of times Aiko’s outfits are described in exacting detail?! Are we at a fashion show? Is this Vogue? What is happening, ma’am?

When it comes to the queer love part – which I was really excited about - the chemistry between Aiko and Summer simply does not feel believable, and given that they barely speak to each other in the beginning, it’s hard to feel this connection they're basing their choices on.

Aiko’s character is written like a typical cishet F-boy, and while I’m sure there are many lesbian women who embody those kinds of characteristics, nothing about her characterisation made her attractive. Her overfamiliarity, constantly calling Summer “baby” from the jump, was so strange, and her persistent reference to Summer’s thighs and bum made me want to burn this book. (Reader, I read a digital version on my Kindle.)

We get it! She thicky! You likey!

There are some spicy scenes, but the pacing is completely off. We go from making out on a couch one day to full on ‘bring your harness and strap up' the next, and overall, the story reads like a sapphic romance written by a middle-aged robot man who’s never interacted with human beings before.

I wanted so much for this book but, ultimately, Alexander dropped the ball in so many ways.
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Can't Resist Her has all the tropes I love - queer romance, second chance romance, childhood crushes. Those moments where the stars align? Where the universe gives us a second chance to get it right? From the beginning I was imediately intrigued. Now that Aiko and Summer are adults, they are given the chance to get to know each other. But immediately sparks fly - both good and bad. And you begin to wonder if their lives diverged too much. When these rivals - in their professional lives - see them on opposite sides of a fence, what can happen?

And while Alexander tries to make me like Aiko it was just not working for me. Summer was very clearly my favorite because of how passionate she is. How much she is devoted to the community and the legacy of her grandmother. While Summer isn't perfect - what character is - someone who is willing to fight for a cause will always hit my sweet spot. And Aiko being on the opposite side was hard for me to stomach. There were moments I liked her more - and less - plus she makes some good points about change and about hypocrisy.
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I started this book ages ago and wasn't enamoured.... unfortunately, when I eventually continued, I can't say that it got any better. The writing in this book isn't the best, too much focus on unnecessary details and the dialogue got really weirdly formal in bits? Stuff like 'that was an astute observation'. While it wasn't the worst to read, I did skim the last half.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Heat Factor: We’ve got some dildo action!

Character Chemistry: It’s pretty insta.

Plot: Summer is trying to stop gentrification; Aiko works for a developer. Even though they’re on opposite sides of a proposed building project, they can’t help wanting to date.

Overall: This book made me irrationally angry.

I must acknowledge that my response to this book was not entirely rational. It was a situation where one small thing irritated me, which then resulted in me reading more critically than was perhaps warranted, which in turn resulted in me noticing more things to be irritated about. On the other hand, there were some craft choices that the author made which I may not have picked up on if I weren’t irritated, but which I argue make this a weaker book.

Let’s start with the small stuff. This book takes place in Austin. I happen to live in Austin. This book is also very detail-heavy. And not all the details are…quite right. For example. In an early chapter, Aiko is tweaking the landscape design for the project she’s working on. It involves a lot of azaleas. I have seen literally zero places landscaped with azaleas in Austin; azaleas need a lot of water and it is dry here in the summer. Like no rain from June to October dry. Now, I’m not saying that no one plants azaleas, because I’m sure they do. Rather, I’m saying that a company that’s building a green building would probably be xeriscaping. It threw me out of the scene and made me start looking for other inaccuracies.

I feel petty writing it out. It’s a small thing, but it felt wrong. And when the little details are off, it makes me question the bigger things. Especially since it wasn’t just the azaleas. 

I do not want to imply that Alexander did not do her homework. On the contrary, she includes a lot of incredibly specific details about the places the characters go, the routes they take to get there, what they order, and how it tastes. The vast majority of these places are real. (Side note: there was a scene where they are getting a “light pizza lunch” at a place known for Detroit style pizza and I rage screamed, but I later looked up the menu and the specific pie they order is actually thin crust, so mea culpa on that one. This side note should indicate the level of detail we have going on in this book. Be prepared to crave takeout.)

So let’s talk about how this snowballed. There’s a scene where Summer is buying ice cream with her dad, and gets annoyed when the young woman scooping the cones calls her “ma’am” because that word should only be used for older women. However. Summer is a 30 year old Black woman; the other woman is 20, white, and a food-service worker. Calling Summer “miss” would not be appropriate. I double-checked with a Texas native friend to see if I was missing something and she agreed with me. But because of the azalea scene I’m questioning things. Am I misunderstanding some element of the racial dynamic here? Is the author just wrong? Is Summer in denial about her age? Is Summer just looking for something to be mad about because the ice cream truck is a gentrifying invader in her old neighborhood? There aren’t a lot of context clues about how I should understand this interaction. The details are about the sensory surroundings, not about the main characters’ state of mind.

And then it snowballed again, and this is where the craft decisions come in. (Spoilers ahead.) 

Ok, so Summer moves back to Austin and discovers that her old high school (a charter school founded by her grandmother) is being demolished to build a mixed use development. Summer decides this is unacceptable and goes straight into protest mode. However. I couldn’t help but think that Summer was completely unreasonable. The school had closed ten years previously. The building was dilapidated. The time to try to save the building was, I don’t know, before the developer bought it? Five years ago? During the permitting process, which would have involved a public session? 

Part of my frustration with this fight was in the details. Like the building is 46 years old but also educated Black kids during Jim Crow, and that math doesn’t square. Part of my frustration was with Summer, who lives in a fancy apartment downtown (which as described is probably $4K a month) but also thinks all development is bad. And I also think she shouldn’t protest the architecture firm, but rather the owner of the property (who made the decision to tear down the school in the first place).

Now here is the spoiler. Summer’s growth moment is her realization that she was actually being unreasonable and that she’s acting out of a sense of guilt. But before Summer has her ah-ha moment, the text never indicates that Summer was in the wrong. Rather it seemed to insist that both Aiko and Summer needed to compromise or rethink their positions on the new development. No one that Summer talked to was like, “Let’s think about this.” (People tell both Aiko and Summer that dating while on opposing sides of the building fight will be challenging.) So I spent the whole book being annoyed with Summer only to be proven right in my opinion in the end, but honestly I felt blindsided. There had been no breadcrumbs left for me as a reader that one party was going to need to apologize for her actions throughout the whole book.

Now, how did all of this impact the romance? Well, the way it plays out is both Aiko and Summer feel an instant connection and want to keep dating despite their disagreement. So while the development drama does cause the Big Fight, for the most part the two pieces are kind of…separate? Like even though I was really annoyed with Summer, I still bought the attraction between the women. And they did go on some cute dates. And Summer’s apology does make up for her bad behavior. 

I’ll be honest. I can’t say I much enjoyed this one. But if an inaccurate detail here or there doesn’t send you into a spiral of criticism, the final stance on gentrification is pretty interesting.

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

This review is also available at The Smut Report.
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This book disappointed me on so many levels! This book was Read Now on NetGalley, and while I hadn't heard anything about it, I decided to pick this book up anyways after reading the synopsis. Unfortunately, soon after I noticed that it had an extremely low rating on Goodreads. Something in the 2.98 range, I believe. Despite that, I continued to hold out hope that I would still enjoy it. Unfortunately, after reading it, I'm sad to say that I wish I had skipped this one.

But what was the premise that hooked me? Well, this book follows Summer, as she moves back to her hometown after many years to start a job as a teacher in a private school. When she arrives back home, she learns that the charter school her grandmother founded is being torn down and turned into a multi-use center. Complicating the matter is the fact that one of the women working for the development company on this project is her high school crush, Aiko. Summer then has to balance trying to save her grandmother's legacy with falling in love with the woman of her dreams.

I have three main gripes with the way this story unfolded, but before I get to those, I want to mention that I think this story could have worked really well as a novella. The fact that it was 300 pages made the issues I had with this book glaringly obvious, and when I saw there was no real resolution or payoff for all my frustration after all those pages, that cemented the fact that this book was just way too long.

I'm going to start by talking about my aggravation with the plot. The whole conflict of the story centers around the school Summer's grandmother founded. The currently abandoned, unused school that Summer's grandmother founded. Summer is very upset at all the changes and gentrification that she sees when she moves back home, and she takes out those feelings on trying to stop the demolition and eventual development of her grandmother's school. However, I was never able to connect to her concerns.

From a purely familial perspective, I understood that she didn't want the building destroyed, but on a communal level, getting rid of an abandoned building to turn it into anything else, is a net neutral, or even positive thing. I understood her concerns about gentrification, but that was why I wondered why she didn't focus on what would be built, rather than just trying to keep a dusty old building standing. No one's rent was being raised, no one was getting kicked out of the building, the gentrification would only come if the building was turned into something that didn't benefit the community. Which is also why it made no sense that Summer was upset at Aiko the entire book. Aiko was not the one managing who moved into the space. Yet, Summer blamed her for the changes going on.

Honestly, I think that the setup may have been an attempt to add a tinge of tension between the two characters, but even if that were the case, that attempt would have been immediately overshadowed by the insta-lust. These two apparently shared one kiss in high school that was so mind-blowing that both of them have been thinking about it for years. Then when they meet each other again all these years later, they instantly are attracted towards one another and want to get to know the other person more.

That sounds great, except that there was no chemistry between the two, yet when reading from each of their perspectives it became clear that the main reason they're interested in one another is sexual. Which would be fine, except that they each claimed that wasn't the case while sexualizing the other person every time they were in eyesight. So you were told that there was something interesting and worthy about each woman, but when you actually try to see what that something is, the character is only talking about the love interest's body. The amount of times I read about a character's chest, butt, and mouth was excessive and unnecessary. It only made the lack of actual chemistry and compatibility more evident.

But that brings me to my third and final point, which is the writing itself. Maybe I should have started with this one, since the writing ended up doing a major disservice to the entire book. Not only was every little scene fully described and explained, there were countless moments that should have been cut from the book because they were only included for very specific, obvious reasons that didn't mesh with the overall themes and direction of the plot. Beyond that though, my main gripe with the book is that it was kind of pointless. Summer and Aiko never had any real tension. They had no reason to be together and no reason not to be together. Any drama in this book was fabricated by the characters making dumb choices that none of their many friends and relatives ever tried talking them out of until they were facing repercussions. By the end of the book I just wanted it to be over because I couldn't care less what happened. Anything that I thought might be interesting in the beginning was never given a chance to shine, and by the end of the book I gave up on hoping that anything compelling might happen.

I realize that this review is very harsh, but I just did not enjoy myself. Despite wanting to love it, I just could not, for the aforementioned reasons. I had to push through the very end to finish this book, but I managed, and decided to give this book 2 stars in the end.
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I am not giving it a star rating on Goodreads because I am a white woman and I do not think it is my place. Regardless, I struggled with this one. I was very excited for the premise of this book and really appreciated the gentrification elements of the story. However, I really struggled with this one. The writing was hard to follow at times. It almost felt like the story was there but it needed more editing. 

I do not post bad reviews on my page so I will not be posting this one on my instagram but wanted to provide feedback here on netgalley to the publisher. Thank you for the advanced copy!
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