Heartbreak for Hire
Author: Sonia Hartl
Publisher: Gallery Books (July 27, 2021)
Paperback, 320 pages
Romance, Adult Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy
Brinkley Saunders has a secret.
To everyone in the academic world she left behind, she lost it all when she dropped out of grad school. Once a rising star following in her mother’s footsteps, she’s now an administrative assistant at an insurance agency—or so they think.
In reality, Brinkley works at Heartbreak for Hire, a secret service that specializes in revenge for jilted lovers, frenemies, and long-suffering coworkers with a little cash to spare and a man who needs to be taken down a notch. It might not be as prestigious as academia, but it helps Brinkley save for her dream of opening an art gallery and lets her exorcise a few demons, all while helping to empower women.
But when her boss announces she’s hiring male heartbreakers for the first time, Brinkley’s no longer so sure she’s doing the right thing—especially when her new coworker turns out to be a target she was paid to take down. Though Mark spends his days struggling up the academic ladder, he seems to be the opposite of a backstabbing adjunct: a nerd at heart in criminally sexy sweater vests who’s attentive both in and out of the bedroom. But as Brinkley finds it increasingly more difficult to focus on anything but Mark, she soon realizes that like herself, people aren’t always who they appear to be.
Is this book perhaps somewhat problematic? Yes. Does it require a large suspension of disbelief? Yes. Did I absolutely ADORE it and devour it all in one sitting anyway? Also yes! 🙂
I almost DNF’d Heartbreak for Hire in the first chapter, because the premise of Brinkley working as this undercover saboteur taking men whose egos are too big down a peg seemed weird and unbelievable and kind of gross. From chapter 1 I found myself wondering how her humiliating these men actually helps anyone… But I’m glad I stuck with it, because as soon as she meets Mark the chemistry is just *chef’s kiss*.
This book explores misogyny, sexism, emotional abuse, and toxic relationships in really interesting ways. Brinkley’s relationships with her ex (Aiden) and with her mother are clearly awful toxic relationships full of emotional abuse, manipulation, and gas-lighting, and it’s interesting how Brinkley – even with her psychology background – struggled to identify when these things are happening to her. Less obvious – but not less insidious – is her relationship with her boss, Margo. I do wish her relationship with Margo had been addressed more in the book, because I feel like that’s another toxic and abusive relationship that wasn’t as clearly spelled out at Brinkley’s history with her mom and Aiden.
I really loved Brinkley and Mark’s chemistry, from their “meet cute” to when they’re in a hate-to-love situation to when they have their inevitable third act “dark moment.” The on-page sex scenes are hot, but a mild sort of hot, if that makes sense? I give it 3 out of 5 chili peppers, lol. Their banter is really cute, and they have some really hilarious rom-com moments as well as some deep conversations about their histories and their struggles.
A digital ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.