Cover Image: The Build Up

The Build Up

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Member Reviews

3.5 stars rounded up 

This was a cute book, and I loved that the MC (Ari) was a black plus-size woman who was not only loved but *desired* by the male MC. She was sexy as hell and it was great. Some of the plot wasn't really up my street, and Ari sometimes came across a bit 'girlboss' which isn't really my vibe, but overall this was a sweet, steamy read.
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First I have to start this off by saying I love Ari. I can relate to her in a few areas so it made me excited to finish the book, I would have liked it even if it was a bit longer. 

Thank you so much for the opportunity to review this book.
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Aw! I love Ari and Porter! And I’m a sucker for an office romance. It’s the thrill of nobody knowing 🫠🥰😂 I laughed, cried and related so well with this book! Great debut for Tati! This book was light and quick and I would recommend if you’re in need of a palette cleanser 

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i loved the premise and i loved the narcissistic and enigmatic narrator. the narrative was quick and snappy, which is exactly what makes a thriller so enticing and fast paced. i really loved the flashbacks as well, and how it built up more and more of a background for our narrator (who literally hides everything in the present day narrative). i literally could not put this book down and finished it in a day.

but i just thought the payoff was just a bit too anticlimactic and rushed at times. i feel like this could have been a five star and now i'm a tiny bit sad.
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Ari James is on a mission to design a soccer stadium in Atlanta, GA, collaborating closely with the captivating Porter. Their chemistry is electric from the get-go, culminating in undeniable passion.

This debut novel delves deep into the journey of rediscovery after an unexpected career setback. Ari grapples with self-doubt, wondering if she'll ever overcome the stain on her reputation. Additionally, the narrative shines a light on the challenges she faces as a plus-sized Black woman. Ari's character is commendable; her resilience and self-assuredness, in the face of persistent prejudice from male colleagues and some seemingly benign females, is truly inspiring. Through her sheer determination, she finds both love and professional triumph.
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What a great debut from Author Tati Richardson! Ari, a female black architects takes on colorism, sexism, and more, when dealing with the her counterparts at a all male firm. She meets Porter, whom she starts to share feels for but doesn't want a repeat of the past. The author tackles all of this and still manages to make the book fun and a light read! Loved this book!
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I went into this book not knowing what to expect, just hoping for a good love story and some positive fat representation and I totally delivered there. I loved the relationship between these two, it was based respect that then led to attraction and some good spicy scenes. The office elements played out in an interesting way too.
So over all you get good body diversity, office romance, forbidden love and forced proximity, all elements of a really enjoyable read.
TW One of the office workers is constantly saying anti-fat comments about her and often times in ear shot of her. I just wanted to say that in case you are not ready for that.
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Steamy romantic read about 2 colleagues that turn into lovers. Also touches on being a Black woman in a male dominated industry and facing barriers and discrimination.
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This was so much fun and I am so happy I was able to get this ARC. Tati really did her thing with this book and I really hope this book gets to hype it deserves! Thank you NetGalley!
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I knew this book was going to be a hit with me because it literally checked all my “Nikki boxes.” And I mean it had all the things I like: Romance, Black Romance, Plus Size main character, and it counts as Foodie Fiction. Literally all the things I love. And once I finally read it, let’s just say, I was right. I really enjoyed this!

Ok so first things first, let’s talk about the characters! Ari is a MOOD! The things she loves (Wonder Woman!) the food she eats!, all of it is me. I related to her so hard. I really felt like she could be like my bestie or at the very least we could have a real good conversation about life. And then there’s Porter. I knew I was going to like him from the moment he was a goner when he met Ari. That boy was down bad y’all lol And I loved it. They both had issues that we didn’t know about in the beginning, but they both have to confront those things by the end.

The romance was very cute! I loved seeing the two of them fall towards each other. Its like they were magnetized but they both held the opposite ends, if that makes sense. I say that because they were so attracted to each other, and they were feeling each other so hard, but they kept finding reasons to repel away from each other. It was like a slow burn torture. But at the end I did feel like it took Porter too long to realize what happened. Like be for real. This person has been grimy the whole time, you think they changed overnight? But I can admit it made for a great ending.

The writing style was also really comfortable. I felt like I was getting a big hug type comfort. It was easy to fall into Ari’s mind and her experiences, yes because it’s a contemporary romance, but also because I could fully relate to Ari’s character. The way she slid down the door in that one scene, the music she loved, just everything. This is the power of writing our own stories. Representation matters. It was refreshing to see Ari’s character being loved the way she deserved.

This book was so cute but had lots of more indepth themes. I really hope y’all check it out to find out more Ari and Porter. I also hope to get another book out of this one, for Ari and Porter’s besties. I’m almost positive that’s what was happening, but I don’t want to make any assumptions. But I’m not above begging. How do I make my plea?
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What a debut novel!!!!! 

Thank you to the author for delivering a book that hit the check marks on a great novel! I honestly couldn’t put it down. I loved the couple, the dialogue and the importance of tackling hot topics in todays world!
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Thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review

CW: misogeny, toxic work environment, death of a parent (past), fat shaming, sexual harassment

I would recommend if you're looking for (SPOILERS)

-m/f contemporary romance
-fat rep
-workplace romance
-insta attraction
-he falls first
-this is just a hookup

I really enjoyed this workplace romance. Ari was confident, knew her worth and just wanted to get the job done. But what she didn't plan for was Porter, who she is teaming up with at her new job for a big project and who she can't help but have immediate chemistry with. But having learned to not cross working and dating at her lat job she does everything she can to fight the attraction.

Porter respects her decision but he's also entirely gone on her immediately. These two were fun, flirty and steamy. I just enjoyed their interactions as they struggled to stay away from each other and finally said screw it and screwed each other. The steam was top notch, Porter adored every curvy inch of Ari.  A great steamy workplace romance.

Steam: 3.75
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Ari has just left her old job at a different architecture firm and it's clear that something went down there, but we're not really let into the specifics in the first third of the book. She's having a disastrous first day, but Porter, her new co-worker, is pretty great and they hit it off. The two of them are both attracted to one another, but tell each other that for a variety of reasons, they can't date one another. There's a lot of sexual tension there though. 

I really cannot explain what it is about this book that didn't work for me, but ultimately, I was just disconnected and bored. There's something about the way the plot/pacing at the beginning that had me feeling disconnected almost like I couldn't figure out how much time was passing. It felt like there was a lot of talk about work. And there is so much talk about Ari's body. She's a plus-sized/fat main character and she has a "roster" of men to rotate through and it's certainly something that's body positive, but then there were men being skeevy and also fat shamey and I think I'm also not in a place to read about that regardless of the technically positive messaging going on. Anyway, I really think that you will appreciate this book if you like reading about characters who are in their 40s (if my math is right) and you appreciate some workplace talk/scenes.
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A delightful debut with a heroine who knows who she is and isn't ashamed of it, whose confidence was fought for and well earned. Loved having this set in Atlanta; that was a refreshing change of pace.
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Tati Richardson’s dual POV debut novel The Build Up focuses on architects Ari James and Porter Harrison competing for a partnership in their firm. They are assigned to work together on a project that could help one of them land the partnership. Despite themselves, their unlikely alliance soon leads to love. Richardson’s natural dialogue, vivid description, deft character development, and insightful narrative style quickly grabbed hold of my imagination, investing me in her characters and their journey from the first scene to the very last.

Ari James shows up disheveled for her first day at a new firm—not the first impression she was going for. To make things worse, her new, hot colleague walks in on her at the absolute worst time. When she’s assigned to collaborate with him on the project she hopes will get her career back on top, she knows it will be much more challenging to stay focused on her big comeback. A partnership at his architectural firm is on the line, and Porter Harrison can’t afford anything getting in his way of excelling on his new project—including his unpredictable brother, an obnoxious work rival, and especially not his new co-worker Ari. Ari, whose stunning curves he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about since the moment he accidentally walked in on her changing her first day. Neither Ari nor Porter is looking for love. But creatively, they make a dynamic team. And the longer they work together, the more it becomes clear that the connection developing between them is more than creative. However, making a romantic relationship flourish won’t be easy. It may even jeopardize their jobs, Porter’s partnership, and the new life/fresh start that Ari is building for herself because both are focused on winning and reaching the top of their field.

It’s interesting how Richardson shows two characters, each at different ends of the spectrum, in how they allow others’ perceptions of them to control their life choices and happiness. A gorgeous, intelligent, shapely, quirky, talented, confident, and gifted architect, Ari’s making a fresh start with this job and the home she’s renovating. Betrayed by a co-worker who stole her work, lied about her, and ruined her professional reputation, Ari’s sole focus is getting her career back on track. I love Ari’s hard-won confidence. She counters the stereotypes of fat girls being lonely and needing other people to boost their esteem. I love her. Porter is a sweet, fascinating, thoughtful artist who needs to focus on his career because being an architect doesn’t come naturally to him. His life is a façade. In reality, he’s shy, nerdy, insecure, and loves painting more than architecture. It’s not what he wants to be doing or the career or life he chose for himself. 

Ari and Porter make a fantastic team once they settle into their partnership. I love Ari and Porter’s flirty, funny, sexy banter; and steamy interactions/love scenes. Ari and Porter talk to each other about all kinds of things and hang out just watching TV. These scenes may be Richardson’s best. Porter falls fast and deeply for Ari. But because of her past, Ari holds back, trying not to make the same mistakes. Not that it keeps her from falling for him before she can keep from being hurt or hurting him. She’s drawn to him despite herself because he makes her feel safe and comfortable. 

I love Richardson’s nuanced exploration of the treatment and stereotypes plus-size women face, particularly when Black—through her heroine Ari—and how being judged by appearance affects them in their personal and work lives. She also thoughtfully explores issues of colorism and race and how it continues to impact Black men and women within their families and the workplace. Richardson examines this within the relationship between Porter and his brother and through Porter’s career. Being fair-skinned may have given Porter some advantages career-wise and positively affected his relationship with his grandparents. However, it also increased the expectations and pressures placed on him and created strife/issues between him and his brother, whose skin is darker and a problem for his color-struck grandparents.

The Build Up is a sweet, sexy, funny, emotional, steamy, and a bit angsty romance about taking risks, following your dreams, finding new dreams, letting go of the past, making fresh starts, and taking advantage of second chances. It explores themes of grief, prejudice against people based on appearance—weight, skin color—betrayal, family baggage and emotional trauma, sibling rivalry, colorism, classism, and sexism.

Advanced review copy provided by Carina Press via Netgalley for review.
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This is the debut novel for Tati Richardson and I must she did an awesome job with her writing skills, her characters were believable, awesome plot that held my interested from page to the very last page.  Way to Tati Richardson.  Hoping you’re working on your next novel.  Ari is a new architect and she has the confidence to match it in a male dominated world.  Ari has been partnered with sexy Porter who is up for partnership at the firm.  Porter has vowed that nothing will stop him from making partner even the gorgeous new architect Ari.  When Ari and Porter meet there is an instant attraction of which neither is looking for romance but fate has other plans.  These two are great together, love their chemistry and how well they fit together.  

Did Porter make partnership, how did Ari handle being in a male dominated field, is there an HEA in store for Ari and Porter.  

I received an ARC via NetGalley Carina Press & Carina Adores (Harlequin), Carina Press Romance and I am leaving my review voluntarily.
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I enjoyed this book. Hard to believe this is a debut novel. The author has some skills. The author was able to handle some serious issues like sexism, racism and fat shaming and do it well. 

This is a low-angst work-place romance between two likable characters. The romance is authentic if a little too on/off. 

This is a great read with compelling characters and interesting themes. Highly recommend 

I received an arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I loved everything about this story. Porter and Ari are officially one of my favorite couples in any book series. I really enjoyed how this one was written and the journey between Ari and Porter from the beginning. I appreciate how Ari's character is portrayed as a plus size woman and that she wasn't one of those characters that's obsessed with losing weight. She owned who she was and that's the kind of energy I love to see. Porter was a dream, as far as how he loved Ari. He was a little naive at times but I appreciated his willingness to learn when it came to navigating things with Ari. Overall, I really loved this story. It gives black professionals being successful, black love, HBCU rep, plus size rep and It was just a really fun read (with a good amount of spice). Definitely would recommend.
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This debut novel deserves a standing ovation for author Tati Richardson! I adored this book and cannot wait to get my hands on a physical copy for my home library. Reader be warned, the beginning of this story contains racism, fat phobia, and misogyny. But let me say, this story is worth being uncomfortable for. 

Meet Ari. She is a talented, beautiful, and brilliant plus sized woman. She get a new job at a prestigious architecture firm in Atlanta. Meet Porter. He is successful and gorgeous, yet in a bit of a rut. One day he gets a new co-worker chemistry sparks instantly with. Will this be the meet-cute they’ve been waiting for? 

Get ready for unexpected jealousy, an Adonis male main character, a plus size female main character, pool scenes, and spicy romance scenes that will make you weak in the knees. Can I say this book has it all? Because it does. Hats off to Richardson for this grand slam review and I cannot wait to read what comes out next! 

Thank you to NetGalley, Carina Press, and Carina Press & Carina Adores (Harlequin) for an eARC in exchange for my honest review!
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Everyone should go and do themselves a favor and read this book, the characters are amazing, the story is amazing. 

Tati did a wonderful with these characters.
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