Romance Review: Moonlighter by Sarina Bowen: "There's only one bed"


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Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: October 21, 2019
Publisher: Tuxbury Publishing, LLC
Genre: romantic suspense
Format/Source: ARC, from the author
Status: book 1 of The Company companion series


Summary:
Five nights. Two adversaries. Only one bed in their hotel room.

Eric Bayer is at the height of his hockey career. He only gets six weeks of summer vacation. He’d never agree to do a favor for his brother, the head of a global security company so secretive that Eric doesn’t even know its name.

Pass, thanks. He doesn’t need a summer job.

But the jerk ambushes Eric with a damsel in distress. That damsel is Alex, the competitive, sassy girl he knew when they were kids. Now she's a drop-dead gorgeous woman in deep trouble.

So guess who's on a flight to Hawaii?

It's going to be a long week in paradise. Eric’s job is keeping Alex safe, while her job is torturing him with her tiny bikinis. It's all snark and flirting until the threat against Alex gets serious. And the hockey-playing party boy becomes her major league protector.

Moonlighter is a stand-alone novel. No cliffhangers, no prior experience necessary. Expect: a growly hero, a lady boss with no time for his attitude, and a war of wills and hormones. Bonus: a hunk wearing a baby in a sling.


Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book by the author. This does not affect the content of my review.
Review:
Sorry, not sorry for all the Sarina love over the last year. I am OBSESSED with her romance series, and Moonlighter may actually have catapulted itself into position as my favorite.

I don't read a lot of romance that isn't contemporary or rom-com-y, and most of Sarina's books fit that bill. But a couple years ago when Sarina published her Brooklyn Bruisers series, she dipped her toe into the romantic suspense pool. Hard Hitter features a yoga instructor whose ex is bad news and a hockey player whose extracurricular activities off the ice get him blackmailed by the same ex. She did so again with this summer's Superfan, starring a singer with a stalker. Moonlighter fully embraces a suspense-filled storyline as Brooklyn Bruiser player Eric Bayer steps in as pretend boyfriend and temporary bodyguard for tech billionaire Alex Engels, who is pregnant with her bad-news ex's child.

This book was absolutely delicious, and I devoured it. Eric and Alex have incredible chemistry, even for a Sarina couple, and a plot full of suspense and intrigue gave them an added edge that had me flipping digital pages as fast as I could! I love how Sarina combines tropes to make unique situations for all her couples, and Moonlighter is no different. Childhood friends, a missed connection, pretend boyfriend, only one bed, holiday hookup that "can't continue"... ohhhh, yeah. That's the good stuff. And THEN we have Business Drama including a car chase (BEST), a hacked phone, an apartment break-in, and creepy technology AND THEN there is ALSO a baby on the way? Heck yes. I was super into it.

One thing that is really cool about the addition of a suspenseful plot is that we get to see Alex and Eric interact in a variety of settings. There's the dreamy romantic showing they put on publicly at a tech conference, there's the slightly awkward private connection they share as they revisit their childhood friendship and the night Alex passed on Eric, there's their absolutely ELECTRIC sexual chemistry once they give in to the lure of the single bed (the lead up to this was super steamy and good), there's the soft, tender moments when Eric takes care of a very stressed, very hungry pregnant Alex, and so much more. The book takes place over the course of 5-6 months, and there's so much variety to witness as their relationship develops. It felt really realistic to me, even if the plot is quite fanciful.

Miscellaneous things I want to mention: 1. Sarina clearly put in a lot of effort researching the future of tech, and I appreciate that! 2. THE RETURN OF BINGLEY! If you read Sarina's book Brooklynaire, you'll already know the chivalrous AI system, and I'm happy to say he's back! 3. I love Sarina's secondary characters, like Eric's family and Alex's bodyguard Duffy. Her worlds always feel complete because they are populated by so many incredible characters. 4. Even with a lot of suspense, Sarina left plenty of room for her classic humor. There's a scene in which Alex goes a bit wild with nesting behavior, and Eric has to come save poor Duffy from being fired. I couldn't stop laughing! And the scene when Alex goes into labor! Truly spectacular!

Basically, I love Sarina Bowen's books, and I think you should read them. Although her books are all tied together in some way (they're companions), Moonlighter truly starts something new so if you want to give Sarina a try without committing to reading a lot of companions, this is a good place to start. But I will warn you: once you start Sarina, you'll be hooked! And anyway, why read just one when you can discover the joys of all her backlist?

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About the Author:
Sarina Bowen is the RITA® Award winning author of over thirty contemporary novels. She most recently hit the USA Today bestseller's list last week with Top Secret (co-written by Elle Kennedy) and in January, with Overnight Sensation. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Sarina holds a BA in economics from Yale University.

Sarina Bowen is a New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country since the 1760s. Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. On a few wooded acres, she lives with her husband, two boys, and an ungodly amount of ski and hockey gear.

Sarina's books are published in a dozen languages on four continents. In 2016, The Romance Writers of America honored Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy with a RITA award for Best Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length.

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