SO SWEET was part of a giveaway via Instafreebie a few weeks ago. Even though I'm so over billionaire romances, a few phrases leaped out at me while reading reviews: "sex positive," "woman of color," and "realistic." Words and phrases that, you'll agree, don't often appear in books of this genre. I decided to take a look.
Kayla is living with her flaky roommate, Adler, and both of them are in trouble. Kayla is failing job search after job search, and Adler isn't really looking. Rent is due soon, and both of them are either going to a) become homeless or b) have to live with their parents again unless they can come up with some quick money.
Under the - ill-advised - suggestion of Adler, Kayla decides to make money in the tried-and-true way of new adult novels everywhere: sell sex for money. However, rather than looking for a tattooed rock musician, or an angsty artist who is secretly rich, she looks for a sugar daddy by going to Arrangements.com, which is kind of like the internet dating equivalent of an escort service. She will hook up with an older guy, basically trading sex for payment of student loans, apartment rent, and clothes.
At one of the mixers, Kayla doesn't really feel the scene, and ends up sitting down at a table with a guy who says he isn't feeling the scene either. They talk - and Kayla realizes (SURPRISE!) that this is Michael Bradbury, the founder of Arrangements, as well as several other endeavors. He's no Christian Grey, though. He has the nerdy hippie vibe of a tech-made billionaire, and I appreciated that. I also liked the portrayal of Kayla, and some of the issues she dealt with as a young black woman.
SO SWEET is short but, well, sweet. Clocking in at only about 100 pages, a good portion of the novelette is about sex. It's well-written sex, but doesn't leave much in the way of plot or character development, and while I liked Kayla and Michael, I didn't really get a feel for who they were as people until the very end, when Kayla starts having some friendship problems with Adler, and both Michael and Daniella give her very good advice on how to deal with it (which she follows!).
The sex, as I said, was well written and the vibe of the book is definitely sex positive. It was nice to read about a heroine who was familiar with her body, enjoyed and pursued sex, and masturbated. On the other hand, there were a few scenes that made me raise my eyebrows. At first, when she and Michael are about to engage in anal sex, she proposes training up to it with a plug and lube, which actually made me happy, because yay, realism. But then Michael is like, "No, it's okay, we'll go slow." And Kayla is like, "I had anal sex years ago, so this barely hurts at all, I'm totally feeling it."
And I was like >_>
And they didn't use a condom, so I was like <_<
Some people don't mind lack of condoms in their erotica, but for me this is a major pet peeve. MAJOR. PET PEEVE. Yes, they were fairly exclusive at this point, but it wasn't official, and there was no mention of STD tests or sexual history. And just for the record, anal sex is more likely to cause STDs because there is tearing and therefore direct exposure to blood, so condoms are even more important with anal even though you won't get pregnant. The more you know!
SO SWEET was a short, fun read, just what I needed after coming back from vacation. I'm not sure if I want to read the sequel - $2.99 seems like a lot for such a short book - but I do appreciate the author putting it up for free & it's always nice to read books written by and featuring PoCs. Diversity!
2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars.