***This is a review of an upcoming release. This title is scheduled to be released on May 26, 2022.***
I really enjoyed this book, but it was shockingly, unrepentantly dark, and that might mean that it’s not for everyone. The cover belies the seriousness with which the subject matter is treated, making this another book that I would not call a romance novel, the way that we have come to think of them. It’s romantic, sort of. But in the end, that is kind of not the point.
I’m Jules Kelly, a certified bohemian boss babe, whose hip tech company just won subsidized office space in the coolest co-working space in town. From a distance I seem poised to take over the world (or at least the travel industry), and I would be if it weren’t for two big complications:
1. A rare and seriously inconvenient disease is tanking my health by the day, and my only hope for a cure—a transplant—is moving further from my grasp.
2. A soulless database company is sharing my new office space, and its coldly gorgeous, judgmental, CEO is on a path to world dominance (at least in his mind).
Tom Davenport represents the very worst of bro culture in the start-up world. Naturally, we despise each other.
The thing is, as much as Tom's antagonism annoys me, he has an uncanny ability to conjure up my fighting spirit and vitality at a time when my illness is robbing me of both. I'm drawn to him in ways I can't (or would really rather not) understand.
A mysterious angel investor forces our companies to compete for a life-changing amount of money just when my relationship with Tom becomes infinitely more complicated. To make matters worse, things get cutthroat just as my health and time start to run out.
In order to survive, I must decide if I can truly trust my most unlikely ally of all.
So, the marketing material calls this “a high-stakes, occasionally steamy, workplace romance that will leave you feverishly turning pages,” which is about the most misleading statement that I can remember hearing. It’s not a “workplace romance”, it’s not all that steamy, and, while I did sort of feverishly turn pages, that was mostly because I was worried that our heroine would actually die.
See, Jules is critically, gravely, terminally ill. She has a very rare disease (Primary sclerosing cholangitis for those playing along at home) which is 100% fatal without a liver transplant. Unfortunately, she’s not *quite* sick enough to qualify for a cadaver donation, and she has exhausted her friends and family looking for a live donor. And when sepsis sets in and her organs begin to shut down, well, it might just be too late.
Sounds light and adorable, right?
In the end, it turns out that her frenemy-with-benefits is a match, and, of course, he saves the day. But that only brings us to the middle of the story. The rest of the book deals with Jules adjusting to her new normal, which includes pushing Mr. Right away, quitting her job, and feeling otherwise aimless. It’s explained that these reactions are normal for someone who is quite literally yanked back from the precipice of death…but that doesn’t make them easier to read.
Before you start thinking I didn’t like the book, that is not true. It’s actually really good. But it’s DARK, y’all. And I totally get that it might not be everyone’s cuppa. Jules’ journey is real, and stark and terrifying and I am every glad to have taken it with her. Bradbury writes from her own experience (she also has PSC and received a live-donor transplant) so the book is deeply personal, and the gritty, realistic details really come through.
Recommended if you don’t shy away from dark stories with happy endings, and if the medical stuff won’t be too triggering.