Working It, by Christine d’Abo
Series: Ringside Romance, Book 1
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: February 6, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Nolan Carmichael is getting a fresh start—new career, new company, new life. The only problem is, he liked his old life just fine . . . until an accident robbed him of his health, his job, his self-confidence, and his ability to go out in public without having anxiety attacks.
Zack Anderson has scared away his last four administrative assistants. So when he hires Nolan on a whim, he’s not too worried, since Nolan will be gone within the week anyway. Two weeks later, Nolan has made himself indispensable, completely reforming Zack’s schedule, life . . . and libido.
But in a company already torn by internal politics, one wrong step could ruin both their careers. And not only are they working to reopen Ringside Gym, Zack’s retreat when he was a troubled teen, but they also can’t help themselves falling for each other. If only the rest of their lives could go as smoothly as things do when they’re alone together.
Office Romance (Boss/Employee)
Working It was the perfect cure for my recent reading slump and I’m so glad I decided to give this author another shot. Before this, I’d read exactly 1.5 books by Christine d’Abo – I enjoyed one book immensely, whereas I DNF another due to a M/M/F dynamic that didn’t work for me. However, both books were otherwise really well-written, so my interest was definitely piqued when I heard she had a new series out.
I’m not usually an office romance trope type of gal, especially that involving the boss and a subordinate. Even if the power dynamic isn’t particularly icky, I’m usually too stressed out about someone getting fired to enjoy the illicit love affair. WOW do I sound lame. But anyway. I was happy that I enjoyed this book and even more pleased that I have an entire series to look forward to.
Working It had solid writing and a good pace. In addition, it had well-developed MCs and a great story that drew me in from start to finish. It managed to juggle some pretty heavy elements including PTSD, anxiety, and some high stakes corporate politics while still delivering a satisfying romance. Furthermore, all these stressful elements were presented very realistically with minimal angst – a definite plus in my book.
From the get-go, the author did a superb job of getting us inside Nolan’s head. Nolan’s PTSD, along with his accompanying flashbacks and panic attacks were well-portrayed without overwhelming the entire tone of the book. His character was very multidimensional and I loved seeing the different sides to him, some of which were delightfully unexpected. He was definitely a hero who was easy to root for and love.
Zack on the other hand… Zack wasn’t just your average grumpy hero, he was actually worse because, well, he was the grumpy boss. Arrogant, controlling and bad-tempered, he didn’t care that he was a jerk to everyone, especially his past assistants, and that the entire company hated dealing with him. He was driven, focused on his personal endgame, and didn’t mind being the CEO’s sledgehammer when things needed to get done. In other words, he was a real prize. To be frank, I’m glad I caught a glimpse of Zack’s “heart of gold” when he and Nolan first met, as abusive boss-subordinate power dynamics can be a turnoff for me. Thankfully that wasn’t the case, and the dual POV, particularly when he stepped outside of the office, helped as well.
My favorite thing was how compatible they were together – the hothead boss and his nervous assistant. While their intense chemistry and slow burn was a turn-on, it was equally sexy to see them develop a well-oiled working relationship in the office. I adored the way they nurtured each other (okay it was mostly Nolan nurturing Zack) – but the way they gravitated toward each other and started depending on each other was very sweet.
Their budding office romance was hot but fraught with tension, and the author did a great job setting the scene for the eventual blowout. While the ending probably didn’t qualify as a full-blown HEA, I was more than satisfied with it and the epilogue. I should probably warn readers that this book happens to be heavy on the office politics and not so much any type of boxing, wrestling or MMA as the name of the series (Ringside Romance) might suggest. The name comes from the boxing gym and youth center that is Zack’s life dream to rebuild. I’m already looking forward to book two, which will probably – hopefully – involve Zack’s best friend Max.
A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine has over thirty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.