Just Business, by Anna Zabo
Publisher: Random House/InterMix (June 16, 2015)
Page Count: 266 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Romance
Short & Sweet: Justin White doesn’t fit the corporate stereotype; his dyed-black hair, heavy eyeliner, and preference for jeans over suits makes him stand out among his piers. Eli Ovadia, the CFO for Justin’s new company, dislikes Justin’s mess and attitude, and he’s not one to hide his contempt. As Justin works to prove himself to Eli, he realizes that he can’t seem to keep his cool around the domineering Eli— and soon he finds himself taking their heat from the boardroom into the bedroom…
Warnings: Mentions of dubious consent and past abusive relationships.
* I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. *
My Thoughts: This book was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! Bam, done, end of review. (But seriously, I could ramble for hours about how much I loved this novel, so I’m going to do my best to rein it in!)
After reading Zabo’s Takeover last year, I was ecstatic to see another book in the same universe announced for this summer. Just Business is, like Takeover, about two corporate businessmen who enter into an intense BDSM relationship, but that’s where the similarities end. Justin is a brilliant MBA student who’s taken a step back professionally after fleeing from an abusive relationship, while Eli is a successful, cold, and often terrifying CFO who has his own past demons to battle with.
Right from the start, Justin and Eli’s personalities clash. Justin is everything Eli dislikes in a man– “snarky, smirking, and too full of himself,” and he takes pleasure in flirting and watching Eli’s carefully cultivated facade crumble (Kindle location 82). Eli is used to being the one people fear; he’s known around the office as being “merciless and tough”, but Justin isn’t afraid of him… rather, Justin is clearly attracted to him, and Eli returns that attraction (Kindle location 187). But neither man is willing to do more than tease and exchange witty banter, too afraid of misreading the other’s actions.
The gloves hit the table. “Sam likes you. Engineering likes you.”
“But you don’t.”
Eli ran a finger around the rim of his mug. “Assumptions, Mr. White.” (Kindle location 306.)
One of the primary themes of the novel, in my opinion, was the idea of consent. It’s one of the pillars of BDSM, and something that both Justin and Eli struggled with. In his previous relationship, Justin’s ability to consent was stripped away, and he’s struggled since then to establish himself as independent, unwilling to rely on anyone. On the flip side of that, Eli wrestles with his own desires to hurt people, and wonders what kind of person that need for causing pain makes him.
There was the search for consent. Always that question– always giving Justin a choice. Stay or go. (Kindle location 2520.)
On a personal note, I have to say that I loved seeing a main character who was Jewish and struggling with his faith. Having been raised Jewish myself, and having also left the religion, I really related to Eli in several ways. Representation matters!
Everything about this novel was fantastic. The characters were intriguing and complex, the plot was interesting but not overwhelming to the relationship, and the sex was hot, hot, hot!
This was one of my most anticipated books of 2015, and I’m thrilled to say that it lived up to my expectations!
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