Genre: Romance, Erotica
Edition: ePub (ARC), 304 pages
Published: August 27th 2018
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks to NetGalley for the copy.
Strictly Confidential is the third book in The Boardroom series (but can also be read as a standalone) that I can’t wait to read the rest of. The premise of The Boardroom is that it is a group among businessmen and women providing a safe place to express and take part in certain sexual desires that aren’t accepted as ‘mainstream desires’. In this novel, all you need to know about it is that Kennedy uses The Boardroom because she enjoys having power, and struggles to get it in her real life. She describes her lack of power and respect in the second paragraph of the book:
“A Keller wouldn’t do such a thing. Not a female one at least. Now her father, he’d probably be admired if he did, but not her. Not when she fought every damn day to be respected in a man’s world.”
As soon as I read this sentence, I felt an instant connection to Kennedy. Not only was she clearly a feminist, but she was also a woman who had worked her absolute hardest to get to where she was in the business world, and she was comfortable with her sexuality too. She is an all-round great character. Matt, Kennedy’s love interest, was interesting, and a pretty decent character, but there were parts about him I simply wasn’t keen on. There were a few quotes that made me… well, I just wasn’t a massive fan.
There was one part where he asks himself internally: “could he control his hunger?”, which made me cringe, and also made me feel a little uncomfortable. Any reference someone maybe being unable to control themselves in a sexual situation just sets of an alarm bell. I understand that it’s a book and Matt’s character isn’t like that, but still…. no.
Despite a few little bits, I did like Matt, and I really enjoyed his and Kennedy’s relationship. Right from the start I was enjoying their banter at the bar, and I was invested the whole way through. The only problem I had with the relationship was the insta-love element. I’m not sure how time passes in the book, but it doesn’t seem to be a large extent of time, and Kennedy and Matt fall for each other very quickly, as seen in this quote:
“Matt had her rethinking her entire life after two encounters. What would happen if she continued to see him? If she let herself try?”
Insta-love is a pet peeve of mine, and while I have no issues with insta-lust (which this book started off as) it’s very easy to cross the line between the two. Unfortunately, Matt and Kennedy’s romance did cross the line a little bit. It wasn’t to a large extent though, so I wasn’t put off by the relationship at all, and instead just think that a little editing of a quote like this would help. For example, showing that it’s what Kennedy is discovering about herself from interacting with Matt that is making her rethink things and not necessarily just him would have helped to rid the story of some of the insta-love elements creeping in.
Before I wrap this up, a quick note about the side characters: none of them are too developed, as this is a romance/erotica novel and that is obviously one of the elements on the back-burner, but damn I loved Matt’s mum! She was an actual queen and we could have used a bit more of her in the story. Matt’s children are fine, but I didn’t really care: Matt loves them, one of them goes to college and does sport and the other one still lives at home, but that’s the extent we get of that. Kennedy’s relationship with her parents could have been developed a little more, and Matt’s situation with his ex-wife could have used a little more context throughout the book, but these are just minor grievances and nothing serious.
With all this in mind, I whole-heartedly recommend this book if you are looking for a new romance/erotica novel to pick up, and want something a little different with a compelling female character.