Kelly Fox lulled me into a pattern of books set in Texas only to blow me out of the water with her depiction of New York City. Like it says on the tin, mobsters and billionaires are a departure from her previous works, but this author’s grasp on inherent human nature makes this book with all-new characters as compelling as anything previously released by her. I adored Joe from the beginning, of course, because who hasn’t wanted to rage-quit out of a useless work meeting? I was prepared for a much more fraught enemies-to-lovers sort of romance arc based on Rand’s portrayal in said work meeting. However, Fox immediately upends expectations with his character (and character development) from the very next chapter.
The way Rand and Joe are thrown together leans a bit into the comedy of errors side at the beginning, but the forced proximity aspect of this novel does an excellent job of increasing the tension on multiple internal and external levels for the storyline. At one point, I actually thought that the main pivotal moment of the book arrived too soon until I quickly realized that Fox attends to every point of tension in appropriately dramatic and warranted resolutions.
The relationship that develops between the two men is fascinating, adorable, and sexy AF all at the same time, each element not precluding the others. I especially enjoyed the significant emotional power exchange on both sides that starts from a place of physical attraction and slips seamlessly into affection and then outright love. There’s been lots of discourse in Fox’s social media about categorizing the dynamic between Joe and Rand, but honestly, it boils down to this: Each interaction between them, once they realize they are on the same side, stems from a place of respect and care.
Every bit of this book is fun to read, from the private moments between the main heroes to the more public moments where we meet fascinating secondary characters (for whom I’m already looking forward to meeting as the stars of their own novels). It might not be Texas, but I loved this book as much or more than everything else I’ve read by this author. This story is completely unconnected from other projects by Fox, but it still feels like the same world due to the care the author puts into her writing. This book says some important things about the function of contemporary work, which I enjoyed (#greatresignation). Overall, I hope readers join me in NYC for these delicious doses of mobsters and billionaires and their happily ever afters.
Disclaimer: I received an electronic ARC of this novel from the author.