Release Date: August 16, 2019
Received From: Review copy from the author
Sofia Flores is accustomed to only one kind of subbing: acting as a submissive. However, circumstances have thrust her into an entirely different kind of subbing—substitute teaching. While the position is far from what Sofia hoped it would be, it does bring her into contact with Noah Blackburne, a buttoned-up English teacher who happens to be a Dominant. The two of them have an undeniable chemistry that they elect to study long after the school day is over.
And Sofia is eager to engage in the sort of subbing that has nothing to do with the classroom.
GENDER: cisgender, transgender
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: biromantic
TROPES: coworkers to lovers, workplace romance
TAGS: adult, contemporary, erotica, romance, erotic romance, queer romance, queer characters, BDSM, neurodivergent character, ownvoices, Mexican character, Latinx character
WARNINGS: mental illness (ADHD, anxiety, panic attacks), sexual harassment, workplace harassment, gaslighting, sexual content, racism, anti-queer language, anti-trans language, rape/sexual assault mention, pedophilia mention, bullying, cyberbullying, toxic masculinity
This was an enjoyable little novelette!
…that I think I might’ve enjoyed more if it was longer.
The story that Seabrooke was trying to tell here was hindered due to the short nature of the format. As a result, the overall story feels lacking and rushed. The jump from introduction, between Sofia and Noah, to super supportive colleague, and then lover, is quite abrupt and really feels like there’s no actual transition time. It’s understandable, given the length, but it still results in the connection being unsatisfactory and disconnected. Also, there are moments where it is, inexplicably, redundant and repetitive. That’s not something I’d’ve really expected from a novelette since they’re so brief, but the story manages it. And this is largely brought about due to the fact that there is very little exposition or description–nearly everything is dialogue, which makes the reading experience tedious and bland at times.
Also, I truly felt that the sexual harassment scene was completely unnecessary. It was topically relevant in touching on how women and teachers are harassed and gaslit daily, but again, the scene’s execution was abrupt in all ways. It was unwieldy within the context of the story, and there was very little build up, despite the repeated mentions of how awful the middle schoolers were. It would’ve fit better, I believe, if the story was longer and there was more build up. Additionally, it appeared that this scene was essentially there merely to be used as a vehicle towards pushing along the romance, which I was uncomfortable with and further disconnected me from said romance.
One aspect that I did very much enjoy was that you could definitely tell that this story, about two teachers, was written by a teacher. Perhaps my reading of it was influenced by the fact that the author and I are Twitter mutuals, so I already knew this fact, but I believe Seabrooke’s experiences are clearly reflected in both Sofia and Noah. It brings along some added nuance and a more realistic look into teaching than most books give.
Overall, the story was enjoyable, but I would’ve preferred extra length in order to more fully develop all aspects of the story and romance.
Brynne Seabrooke is a romance novelist with a collection of anxiety disorders and a heart full of sunshine. They write queer romance that centers mentally ill characters and found family and are currently in the process of revising their first novel. Brynne currently resides in the Midwest with shelves full of books and an ever-growing family of houseplants.