Review: Wanting Her
Hello my bookish friends! I am back with a review of WANTING HER by Raquel de Leon. It is the first book in the Barrera series; it can be read as a standalone, but should definitely be read prior to KNOWING HER, as it does contain spoilers for the second book. It's a sapphic workplace romance between the ice-queen owner of the company and the new hire with a heart of gold but a rebellious streak a mile wide when idealism gets in her way.
Vivian Barrera, a professional woman focused on her company's success, doesn't know what to think when her sometimes-lover and long-time business partner Jack hires someone without her permission. The only thing she does know is that she doesn't like the newcomer.
April Hawkins is determined to make her new job work. Left as the sole provider for her niece, she just wants to keep her head down and collect her paycheck. That proves to be difficult when one of her bosses seems to hate her and the other seems to like her a little too much. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the one she's attracted to seems bent on making her job as excruciatingly unpleasant as possible.
When Vivian and April's personalities collide, they find their passionate dislike has an unforeseen bonus—a scintillating, consuming chemistry in the bedroom.
I listened to this one on audio (available in Scribd), and I enjoyed the narration. It took me a few chapters to really get invested in the book, but not because of the writing itself. I'm not the biggest fan of workplace romance, and grumpy/sunshine or ice-queen tropes can be really hit-or-miss for me. April is also a single parent, which is a trope that isn't necessarily my favorite. But, boy, did all of that come together and work really well for me in this series.
This book is definitely higher heat than I expected ... in a good way. Vivian kind of starts off hating April for reasons that have more to do with Vivian's history and the way April was hired, than the struggling young woman herself. So, when a work party brings them into close quarters, a rough one-night stand ensues. But of course, it doesn't end there.
Vivan is a bi Latina, and she's struggling with both her ex (and business partner) and her ongoing struggle to find the sibling who ran away from home as a teenager. Her parents are fantastic, and I'm really glad that this is a series where the Latinx family is very supportive, not only of their daughter, but of their daughter's queer community.
I really enjoyed the way the romance develops between Vivian and April. It becomes clear pretty quickly that, drama with April aside, Vivian is actually a great boss. She's understanding toward April's single-parent situation, which comes back to how important family is to her. There are a few small miscommunications, but no real third-act break-up, and there's no biphobia toward Vivian, even with her ex being so close to the situation. And did I mention how hot this is?
As much as I loved the romance, I actually liked the plot even better. It was kind of a slow build-up toward the two major external conflicts, but both were handled so well and brought a lot to this story.
This one would be great for fans of Anna Stone, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for sapphic romance with multiple open-door scenes. (Scroll down for content warnings.) This series gave me two of my favorite books for September, and I look forward to actually rereading them in a physical format, so I can annotate them.
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*Content warnings for alcoholism, runaway minors, and off-page parental death.