I’m writing this with a cold, and I finished it at about 2am, so I may not be fully coherent. Please bear with me! It was one of those books you have to read in one sitting, even if it won’t fit in one sitting.
From acclaimed comics writer Alex de Campi, a sexy (prose) novel about an agency that specialises in breaking up relationships, with a side hustle in the occult.
Evie Cross had big dreams of becoming an investigative journalist but at 25 and struggling to make it in New York City, she’s finally starting to admit that her dream is her side hustle and her day job is actually… her job. That is, until she signs on as a temp for a small consultancy whose principal, Misha Meserov, specializes in breaking up relationships. Misha is tall, infuriatingly handsome, and effortlessly charismatic—he can make almost anyone, man or woman, fall into bed with him. And he often does.
But the more Evie is exposed to Misha’s scandalous world, the more she becomes convinced that he’s hiding something… when a wealthy San Francisco tech CEO with a dissolving marriage starts delving into the occult and turns up dead, Evie has to decide between her journalistic desire for the truth and her growing desire for Misha.
The (somewhat spoilery) review
This was provided to me for free by Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.
I don’t know why, but I thought “side hustle in the occult” meant they were like, helping faeries break up or something. This was not the case. In fact I was surprised by how mundane the beginning was, and had to go reread the summary to make sure I’d indeed requested something supernatural. I’d have 100% read on even if it weren’t the case, though, because as skeptical as I was during the first chapter, Evie quickly grew on me.
The romance itself was a lot of fun to read, in the “cursed monster with self-hatred issues falls in love with someone who believes in him as a good person” genre. Listen, I love a good martyred hero, ok? I also normally have issues with books that deal with office romance, and especially anything with a boss/employee relationship, because it gets creepy real quick. But Misha is a gentleman, and very self-aware and respectful of Evie’s boundaries, and she’s always the one who initiates things, as much on the romance aspect as on the “let me help you with your crazy dangerous work” aspect.
I knew really quick what kind of supernatural entity we were dealing with (I mean the blurb practically tells you) but the worldbuilding around that was still very interesting and inventive.
Another thing that really stood out for me was the solidarity between the women. Even Gemma, who’s supposed to be Evie’s competition for the long term job, becomes an ally within 2 chapters. And Masha, Misha’s “sister”, was a favourite of mine too, I love her so much! The dynamics there were just really good, and at the same time you have great female villains too.
I gotta say, I also love a so-called “straight” erotica/romance book (from the marketing, the way it’s presented etc) where both leads turn out to be bi. Misha actually says it within the first 20 pages and I thought that was refreshing! There’s also some gender stuff which is kind of a major spoiler, but I thought it was well executed too.
The mystery/”occult” part of the novel, while entirely not what I was expecting, also drew me in, and now I want more of their little adventures.
TWs for the book: domestic violence, kidnapping, murder, ritual sacrifices, mild descriptions of gore