Caine Carraway wants nothing to do with Alexa’s efforts at redemption, but it’s not so easy to push her away. Determined to make her hate him, he brings her to the edge of her patience and waits for her to walk away. But his actions only draw them together and, despite the odds, they begin an intense and explosive affair.
Only Caine knows he can never be the white knight that Alexa has always longed for. And when they’re on the precipice of danger, he finds he’ll do anything to protect either one of them from being hurt again…
Comment: This is the TBR Wednesday of June and this time the theme was Favorite Trope. I have to confess I felt rather doubtful about which book to pick, I have some favorite types of books but I don't usually get books because of that, it would be much easier to pick other themes but after having this one already set to be read this book, I realized it had one of my favorite tropes in romance which is the Enemies to Lovers (and some boss/secretary included too) and so wanted to see them change their mind about each other, get to know one another and yes, realize they were falling in love. When done right, it can be totally romantic!
This one felt better and better for me the more I thought about it and considering the author, someone whose books I've read before were generally successes with me, I was sold.
In this book we meet Alexa Holland, a young woman who works for a photographer and finds out after her return from holidays that the shoot will feature Caine Carraway, a sort of self made man who's rich and powerful (obviously) but she feels it won't go well because they're enemies. The thing is, Alexa's father had an affair with Caine's mother and she died overdosing on drugs and Alexa's father did nothing to help, causing his mother to die. Caine became an orphan and was put in the system but he grew up and got rich and now can't even stand the Holland name.
When they meet in the photo shoot, Alexa can't help herself and tells him her name and things don't go well. Eventually she is fired and she gets angry at Caine, he hates her guts, she tries to apologize, somehow he offers her a job, she accepts to prove she isn't what he thinks, they have their little fights but of course, eventually things change. But will they fall in love?
Overall, this fit all the ideas I had about a enemies to lovers story and I had previously liked the author's books, so I was quite pleased with it.
It's when I think about the extras that I feel this could have been so much better... I think my biggest problem with this book is how fast they give in to sexual attraction. they are sort of antagonist more than deadly enemies and that part is interesting, but from the "I-can't-even-hear-your-name" stage to the "I-need-you-now" one, things move too fast. I wouldn't say this is an insta-love set, because it's not but the insta-sex surely seems quick! I don't mind erotica toned stories but I confess it was slightly not good to see Caine, someone who had reasons - even if without sense - to hate Alexa, to simply ignore everything to be with her sexually. Ok, the idea behind the trope is that love and hate are close but... why do we have to see it happen so fast?
I can't help but thinking they should have struggled a bit more with their attraction, the sexual tension should happen longer while their feelings were changing. Sexually giving in to their attraction seems like an easy tactic and not as romantic or emotionally intense as it could be.
Alexa is an interesting woman and I think the author depicts well why she decides to accept Caine's job offer and why she would feel she had to do something to balance the harm her family did to Caine but I think part of her intentions and even the fight in her, something handy to battle Caine and the job challenges, is lost in the way because she is always speaking about how good looking he is and how she can't help feeling like that around him.
Alexa is the narrator of the book, so obviously we have a lot of her voice but I'll be honest and say there were more times I felt annoyed at her than dreamy because Caine was hot. I strongly suspect authors don't understand real life because it can't be that no matter how good looking someone is, there's no way professional people think about that all the time! I felt the lack of more scenes of Alexa working or dealing with Caine professionally, so the story and their initial antagonism could have more strength.
There's not much to say about Caine because we don't have his POV. Sure, he's sexy, domineering in a realistic way, has secrets, has a past which was a surprise somehow, I admit I was not expecting that...but his interactions with Alexa felt too erotic for the type of story being developed.
I think the more domestic scenes from a certain point on and the things that happen closer to the end give this a different flavor and the end was somewhat better than some middle parts. A bit more balance in the development of the story and the way the protagonists behaved would have helped.
This book rates closer to a 6.5 than a 7 but I kept thinking about how the good parts really won me over so I upped the grade. But I will also say this book didn't come closer to some of the author's other work, which was much more powerful emotionally and in terms of character's interactions and family bonds, this last item sadly lacking here too.
Still, an interesting romance that could be so much better, especially for the type of trope and the possibilities.