Belinda shifted in the seat, the faux leather making a very unpleasant sound as she did.
Luckily, Malik didn't look up from his menu or comment in any way.
Decadent Dreams by A.C. Arthur
Conflict: (Not sure) past-baggage issues? friends-to-lovers? or *fart noise* "That wasn't me!- That was the seat!"
NOTE: I was seriously about to DNF from sheer boredom, but the quote above brought me back. I'm pretty sure this is first romance I've read with any mention/hinting of flatulence.
In a Nutshell: Belinda Drayson-Jones works at her grandmother's patisserie in Chicago, Lillian's. Belinda is a complete perfectionist. But she gets panic/anxiety attacks. Malik Anthony worked next to Belinda for years after an injury ended his professional basketball career (but we're going to pretend that this isn't odd at all, and it's totally acceptable for him to dream of going from NBA to Lillian's) and now we've reached the point where they act on their attraction.
This was "okay" but it didn't go above average for me. It's basically watching a couple finally have their HEA after some flirting and some dates - oh, and they talk about some past-baggage issues (evil exes, over-achieving, family drama, etc.). The conflict didn't really stick out to me. This had the normal plot ups and downs, and although I appreciated some "meeting-the-ex" scenes, it just felt like the story was naturally continuing. Nothing to keep me on the edge of my seat and make me wonder/hope that our couple could have their HEA. After I decided to keep reading, I was waiting for something else to pique my interest, and nothing did. We're told that they're perfect for each other and that they care, but we're not shown it.
Why do I empathize with this heroine: Nope. And I struggled with this one. I thought her and Malik were great together though, but no more so than just what I'd expect from my romances. There's a scene where Malik calls his attorney and bails Belinda out of jail/holding - but I'd expect the well-connected boyfriend-hero to do that. Even when we see her admitting to Malik on their first date that she "doesn't want to be Little Miss Perfect anymore" - okay... but she was so uptight, and I feel like I never saw her be carefree enough - or satisfied with any of her "imperfections"... Sucks reading about a heroine being so unhappy with herself.