Mira Walker and her boyfriend, Scott, have entered a competition to win a million dollars. They are going on a reality show where they have to live like it’s 1885. That means no modern electricity, no modern plumbing, and spending each day working to do things exactly the way they did it then. Mira is hoping this experience will bring her closer to her boyfriend and inspire her to once again be excited about her job. Gabe Kincaid has also entered the competition with his twin brother Alec. He is sure they have a better shot at winning than Mira and Scott because everyone wants to knock Scott’s lights out from moment one. As the competition starts to heat up, all the contestants are thrown many unexpected twists and soon it’s unclear who will win this competition and the money. One thing is certain, the more time Mira spends here, the more sure she is that she doesn’t want to go back to the life she had before entering this competition.
Mira was someone I sympathized with pretty quickly. It was clearly from the first moment you see her alone with Scott that he was an asshole. It was equally clear that she just doesn’t realize the extent of his dickheadedness. It’s fascinating to realize how few people really see the signs of mental abuse and don’t recognize that backhanded compliments for what they are. Just because Scott has a nice attitude most of the time doesn’t mean he isn’t breaking her down mentally. You hear an insult enough times, you start to believe it. Beyond that, it’s clear that this girl has never been appreciated in her life. Her parents are lackluster, to put it nicely, and she really seems to have no one really in her corner. We don’t hear her talk of her friends back home or siblings. Her parents don’t really care and her boyfriend is a jackass. And yet, she seems to have a relatively positive attitude towards life. I don’t know how she manages it. The one thing I know for sure is that she deserves better than Scott.
Gabe is her opposite in a lot of ways. He is confident and has the love and support of an entire family. He’s a successful doctor with a level head on his shoulders and a knight-in-shining armor complex. I like him immensely more than Scott. He’s smart and sweet and just a little cocky, but not in an obnoxious way. Even though we do get a bit of time in his head, I don’t feel like I know him as well as I know Mira. Beyond his love for his brother and his concern for Mira, I don’t feel like I know very much about him.
What was really fun about this was that it didn’t feel like your typical romance novel. For half of the novel, the focus was more on setting up the living situation and getting used to the way things ran back in the day over pushing Mira & Gabe together as fast as possible. Sure, they were aware of each other and the attraction was there, but it was on a smaller scale than most romance novels use. I rather enjoyed that. I’m more than a little fascinated by how the world worked when things were slower and harder to get. Just the act of lighting the stove and getting food started took hours to accomplish. Washing the cloths? Let’s just say I won’t be complaining about hauling all my stuff to the laundromat anytime soon.
Despite the slow start on the romance end, it does heat up at moments. This novel is definitely not without steam. You know what was awesome about that? There was nary a single comment on the largeness of a certain part of Gabe’s anatomy. Rosalind James, if you ever read this, thank you from the bottom of my heart for that. In face, I’m not sure his size was mentioned at all and I’m very grateful for that. It also didn’t spend pages going on and on about how hot Gabe was. His attractiveness was mentioned on more than one occasion, but I didn’t feel like I was getting beat over the head with that particular observation.
Basically, this is an interesting contemporary romance that doesn’t focus overly much on the romance aspect. That is an odd thing for me to say and mean it as a compliment, but I do. It was a nice change to
read listen to a story that wasn’t solely about the characters need to get hot and sweaty with each other. I make it sound like I read only erotica, which is far from the truth. I read mostly YA and romance, but a lot of it seems to put too much focus on the physical aspect of the relationship lately and it was wonderful to see something else. But I think anyone who enjoys contemporary romance will love this!
Emma Taylor does a pretty great job of narrating this. She has great pacing and voice differentiation. I wouldn’t say she is my favorite female narrator because I refuse to give that rank to anyone who I’ve only listened to one book by, but she does rate pretty high up. I have no complaints at all about her performance.
****Thank you to Esther Bochner at Audible for providing me with an audio copy in exchange for an honest review****