Monday, October 23, 2017

Jen's Review: Strike a Match

Strike a Match by Fiona Riley
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (November 14, 2017)
Series: Perfect Match, 3
Genre: Contemporary Romance -- F/F

Every date that firefighter Sasha McCray has had in the last year has been orchestrated by matchmaker Samantha Monteiro through Perfect Match, Inc., and she still has nothing to show for it. After a series of near matches, Sasha has all but given up on finding that special spark with someone else.

Accountant by day and reluctant millionairess by night, Abby Rossmore wants nothing more than to be the normal girl she reads about in all those romance novels. But the truth is, once people find out about her family, their interest in her flares for all the wrong reasons.

When Samantha tries to help Abby and Sasha discover they have more in common than being unlucky in love, they have to decide if their shared passion will blaze on or burn out. Could they be each other’s perfect match? Or did the notorious Miss Match strike out?

Where to Buy*:
Kindle | NOOK | Publisher (BSB)
More Info:

Jen's Review:

There’s so much I enjoyed about Strike a Match, the story of a firefighter named Sasha who is tired of the one-night stands and hook-ups of her “womanizer” lifestyle.  Sasha is looking for the right woman to be her perfect match, so she signs up with a high-powered dating service, hoping to find a healthy long-term relationship.

Sasha and Abby are both clients of the same matchmaker, and they meet at a wedding. They have briefly been introduced at mixers and other social events, but this is the first time they really notice each other. Sparks fly! (There are going to be so many fire metaphors in this review. So many.) They share a dance and a sexy kiss, and it’s clear that this romance has potential.

Fiona Riley does a nice job of creating thorny internal and external conflicts for each heroine. Sasha is working multiple jobs, doing everything she can to help pay for the huge pile of medical debts from her father’s leukemia. She is close to her parents and wants the kind of stable, happy relationship they have. Her romance with Abby is firing up just as her father’s cancer is getting worse, and she finds solace and comfort in their closeness.

Growing up in happy families doesn’t mean that Abby and Sasha are perfect adults. They still struggle, like all of us, with how to build the future they want. It turns out that Abby isn’t being entirely truthful with Sasha. Abby is the millionaire heiress of a patrician Boston family; she works because she wants to, not because she has to. Abby originally hides her real identity because she wants to protect herself from gold diggers. Abby quickly realizes that Sasha is different, but now she’s painted herself into a corner and doesn’t know how to tell the truth.

I enjoyed the hot, fierce chemistry between Sasha and Abby. Abby thinks Sasha is the womanizer when they first meet; but that doesn’t mean Abby is a shy, retiring wallflower. Sasha thinks

Abby has the filthiest mouth and mind ever. She had always prided herself on being a sexual being, but Abby brought it to a whole other level.

The sex is great, but as Sasha’s father becomes more ill, it’s clear that they also respect and support each other. They spend long nights getting to know each other and both hope that they’ve finally found “the one.”

The class conflict is well-handled. Sasha inadvertently makes some judgmental comments about rich, society women. Abby is warned by several people that she has to be honest with Sasha. Even though I understood where Abby was coming from, I really wanted to kick her in the pants for her lying. I was super invested in their relationship, but also wanted it to end up in a healthy, honest place. It’s clear from the beginning that the resolution of these conflicts would be painful for both heroines. This romance displays how easily inhibitions and fears can hold people back, and that it takes bravery and sometimes groveling to make things work.

My only major complaint about this book is the pacing. Plot-wise, there was way too much exposition. The brief interlude at the wedding where they dance and kiss happens in chapter six! They don’t go out on their first date until chapter ten, which is about 35% of the way through the book. At that point, I was so ready for them to actually interact, talk, flirt and BE with each other. That chapter ends with them sitting down in the restaurant, and the beginning of their date, but chapter eleven opens with

Abby’s sides hurt from laughing. They had made it through dinner and were on to dessert.

All that build up and the details are lost in the margins! The romance between them doesn’t really heat up until probably the 50% mark. The beginning was drawn out and it didn’t develop the characters of Abby and Sasha more thoroughly; it just felt repetitive. It’s not terrible, it’s just slower than I expected, and I don’t think it does the story justice. I just wanted an editor to go in there and compress that first third, and help the author streamline or eliminate longer, contemplative passages. Once the romance torch gets lit, things moved along at a pleasing and crackling pace.

In my Borrow, Buy, Bye post from a few weeks ago, there was some interesting discussion in the comments about how more inclusive books, those without cis-het-white main characters, are higher priced. That is certainly the case for the previous two books in this series, which are $10 each. I will look for them at my library first, but I’m rethinking my hard upper limit of $8. If I truly want to support inclusive romance, then I should be willing to pay more for the authors and publishers that actually bring diverse stories to my Kindle. In this case, Bold Strokes Books specializes in “quality and diversity in LGBTQ literature.” This a publisher I want to support!

I enjoyed this book, despite the pacing issue. I was rooting for Abby and Sasha, not only to be together, but also that both of them would grow and change enough to find a true HEA. The supporting cast of family members, friends, and colleagues is charming and well-portrayed. I’m looking forward to more from Fiona Riley.


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Jen received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

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Thanks for the review, Jen! To be honest, I'm only disappointed there weren't MORE fire metaphors in your review. :) 

By the way: Kindle, etc., links will probably be up on release day, if I recall how this publisher works.

Have you read Fiona Riley?


Until Next Time,

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