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dibs Book Review

Tis a day late due to some last-minute shifts (not to get too personal, but we're in the process of small-scale moving, for those who don't subscribe to our newsletter—which you totally should, right now, at the bottom of this page), but we're kicking off February with a romance novel review!

dibs Allison Martine book review Coffee, Book, and Candle

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Category: Candy Book

Want to know more about how we categorize books? See our Glossary for details.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Pairing: Chocolate Chip Cookies + bourbon

The book kicks off nicely with action and the main character Olivia, a post-divorcee, post-attorney with a quirky sense of humor that I clicked with from page one. Although twenty-seven and well into her second career with a lot of heartbreak under her belt, there's a down-to-earth innocence and humorous self-awareness about Olivia that causes her to jump off the page.

That said, it took me a couple chapters to invest in the plot and everything going on. First chapter aside, there's a lot of "tell-not-show," and I found myself skimming for more of Olivia's inner dialogue (which flows so smoothly you could get ten pages into her thoughts and not mind, if it came to that). Once sexy Adam enters the scene, things get more interesting—due in large part to his sense of humor that plays second fiddle to Olivia's adorkableness.

Adam and Olivia are set to go on a work trip together, though—truth be told—besides the fact that they're executives and off to a two-week training camp in Texas about a "Rancher program," I couldn't say what their jobs entail. Day camps and paperwork, which I suppose is the gist of it? Those details got lost in the "tell" section for me.

Which is all beside the point, because even Olivia zones out during all the seminars to make googly eyes at hottie Adam. From his description, I don't blame her.

Adam seems to be off-limits for two reasons, though. First off, Olivia's temporary roomie Lorrie Sunkist ("like the soda," as she likes to remind people) calls "dibs" on Adam their first night at the hotel. Olivia is (rightfully) shocked at the absurdity, but agrees to stay out of Lorrie's way because (here comes Reason #2) she's not confident she wants anything to do with Adam, given her past heartbreak and lack of dating experience.

Aww, poor Olivia.

While Olivia's relatability and the initial (if small-scale) drama keeps the first few chapters interesting, the book gradually falls into a predictable routine. Breakfast, seminar (plus a little flirting—no complaints here), lunch, seminar, dinner, hot tub, bedtime (including every description of Olivia's and Lorrie's bedtime and wake-up routines . . . every single time).

There are plenty high notes to Olivia and Adam's flirting-not-flirting dance, but even that doesn't seem to go anywhere for a good chunk of the book. And the food descriptions made me so hungry (darn you, you found my bookie weakness!), but . . . every meal is described. Every meal, every shower, every tooth brushing, and practically every time the character pees.

Here, I'll note the book could've used more editing and a great deal more revising. Many of the paragraphs were clunky and didn't flow. I spotted a handful of misspellings and (my poor grammar heart) so many misplaced modifiers; improper use of sentence structure and punctuation; and words that were repeated sometimes 3-5 times on a single page alone. I like Adam—I really, truly do—but the poor man doesn't need to "rumble" 200 times in 224 pages.

The plot picks up more as their flirting progresses, but I suppose their flirting is the plot. There's no subplot. The plot seems to be will-they-won't-they "give each other a good fuck," as both characters are fond of saying.

Now, this is entirely a matter of personal taste and in no way knocking people who prefer this type of plot, but I'm not the biggest fan of a romance being reduced to "I need a good fuck." Yes, Adam and Olivia share moments of non-sensual intimacy, which I greatly appreciate, but outside swapping personal details of their past heartbreak and a taste for bourbon . . . they never get to know each other. They don't even discover, through the entire book, how old the other is. They don't know each other's likes or interests outside drink preferences.

They've only known each other a few days before Adam is declaring there's nothing "casual" about he and Olivia, and two weeks tops before he says "I love you" and suggests moving in together.

The sexual tension is on point. The author does a fantastic job slowly upping the steam factor. However, the romantic timing is a little off to me. The only conflict through the entire book (outside of Lorrie's on-and-off moods) seems to be Olivia's internal dilemma over whether she should screw Adam.

It personally wasn't my cup of plot tea, but I did genuinely enjoy how each character's personality is portrayed so well. Characterization is definitely a strong suit in this book, as even the side characters add tons of flavor and life. I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a slice-of-life, down-to-earth vibe with a hint of steaminess and tons of humor.

Thank you all for tuning in to another review (and putting up with my numerous Friends references; I swear I didn't go into this with the intent of bombarding those).

Interested in giving this book a try? You can find a linkety link to that here. It just might be your next hot Valentine's read, eh? Ehhh? *nudge, nudge, wink*

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