- love girls or the tv show Younger
- are interested in the book publishing or publicity industry
- want a book that's definitely in 2019 --with dating apps and influencers in book marketing plans
- want to read women in business being bosses and also super kind and supportive and generous to each other
This is a book for you.
After five or six frustrated 'Remove from Kindle' workplace romance books, juuuust as I was beginning to think that maybe I have unrealistic expectations, A Perfect Balance saved the day! The way it's written is so exactly my day to day life working in Publicity, but without the stressful, patriarchal stuff that can suck. This was so fun to read! Emma and Sage are both amazing at their jobs, and the company is run by a supercool and lovely woman who they admire.
Emma and Sage have a good thing going: No names, no details, just a regular, anonymous sex arrangement where they meet at hotels and have great sex and that's IT. When we meet them, Emma's about to go on holiday, and Sage is about to start a new job. [Dun dunn dunnn] When Emma gets back from holiday, she finds out that the new staff member is the girl she's been sleeping with. Neither of them had any idea about the other person. Total total coincidence! and it's quite tragic for Emma because it's actually a lot of admin to find someone to hook up on the regular with, especially with her kinks.
"Life was too short for random strangers from the internet to kinkshame her, to be honest."
As she so eloquently puts it, "The thought of fucking a lot of frogs before finding another super-hot, just dominant enough princess seemed liked more effort than it was worth."
And so the story unfolds; part "They could keep it professional. But, more importantly, did they want to?" and part internal worry about 'now that you know me IRL you may not be as attracted to me, but I'm still wildly attracted to you, aaaah!' panic.
It had me captivated, feeling champagne bubble elated at the storyline. But after the halfway mark it gets... predictable. In a way that feels very disappointing because it had been so sparkly and good until then. Suddenly the rest of the book is a downhill eyeroll of 'omg we had sex with no cuddling, why do I wish we cuddled, who am I, I feel USED." which doesn't make sense in the context at all. Both Sage and Emma's thoughts don't really make sense after that point. They wrestle with issues and then they do the thing anyway and never mention it again? It's... I don't know. Also, a thing that isn't ever mentioned is if Emma is out at work or not, which is weird because there's quite a few moments where that would be a factor.
There are very nice things: Emma "had dated an equal spread of men and women, and one particularly cute genderqueer person." Sage's rich life, controlling dad / family wealth crisis is pretty cliche, but I really like that she's supportive of her young stepmom and feels empathy for her while hoping that she's making money off him before he divorces her like he always does. That is extremely my brand of feminism. Emma and Sage go to the London Book Fair together, and do cute flirty things like swap well-worn copies of their favourite childhood books, and sexy 'things I would do to you if we weren't colleagues' texting. The late-nights feature extremely writerly mid-sext thoughts like "Weirdly, this was the closest Emma had come to writing anything in a long time." and a proper nerdy sext moments like "Impressed by her one handed autocorrecting skills, Emma replied" and then they go back to being daylight office people. Also, the prettiest chapter titles: 'Sun-kissed. To the Moon and Back. Whisky and Words. Music of Bones in the Caves.' In this book, we also meet the author who will star in the next book in the Romancing the Page series. She seems anxious and wonderful and I'm worried about her but I love her so much already, I just want to give her a hug and make her tea.
Before I give you content warnings, let me also give you this: there are some grammatical errors where the tense is wrong, and some where the gender pronoun in the sentence does not match the character it refers to (most often Sage) which leads me to believe this was a m/f story at some point and was not adapted with enough attention to detail. Just saying. There's logistical stuff that just doesn't make SENSE, and there's also the "the other girl" repetitive that Suzanne mentions in her review of book one.
Content warnings: BDSM, outed by a colleague, workplace HR code violation that the boss lets slide, Sage's father is a functioning alcoholic, mention of a suicide attempt, mention of a previous engagement, witnessing sexual harassment, reporting a colleague to HR for sexual harassment, mention of anti-anxiety meds and panic attacks