Tracey Richardson pulls off an interesting twist on a marriage of convenience story by simultaneously turning the rich girl/poor girl theme on its head.
Joss McNab is a cardiac surgeon and instructor whose life is about to get even busier as she takes on more duties as the face of Vanderbilt University’s cardiology department. While Joss might be excellent in the hospital, she abhors schmoozing, so her mother comes up with a solution: Joss needs a fake wife to help smooth over her social encounters.
Sarah Young is a starving artist, or would be, if her wealthy father weren’t bankrolling her life. Except her father has decided that enough is enough and tells her on her birthday that she needs to get a real job. Luckily Sarah’s stepmother has a potential job for her as an escort for her friend’s daughter, no sex required.
Joss doesn’t like being surprised with a fake girlfriend at a public event, but Sarah makes the event go much easier than it would have without her. Maybe it is the perfect scenario, since Sarah is beautiful and smart and needs the money if she’s going to support herself while continuing to make art. Joss knows she can never be a good partner while dedicating her life to medicine, but maybe a fake girlfriend who’s becoming a real friend can be enough, even if attraction keeps taking her by surprise.
Joss is a gorgeous, smart, almost too perfect butch, and it totally works. Her insecurity and fears about never being able to be a capable girlfriend or wife are enough to keep her from being boring and they drive her character growth. Also, I rarely am able to come up with celebrity casting for books, but I spent the whole time reading this one picturing Joss as Tilda Swinton.
Sarah is significantly younger than Joss, but is more emotionally mature. She’s fun and funny and understands that there’s more to life than work. It was less easy to know who would play her, but if push came to shove, I’d say Emma Stone or a younger Bryce Dallas Howard.
The Writing Style
There was something about the style I couldn’t quite figure out at first and then I completely loved it once the pieces clicked in my head. This reads like one of the Harlequin Presents novels I used to cut my teeth on in high school, but without any of the parts I hated. Hear me out!
What’s the biggest problem with Harlequin Presents? Well, given that you’re reading on The Lesbian Review right now, I’m guessing that you, like me, prefer your romance novels to have two women in them. I especially hate alpha male jerks, and HPs have the worst of them.
But By Mutual Consent really does have the best parts! It has an ultra rich, handsome doctor. A relationship of convenience with an artist who needs the money. Super hot vacation sex. High drama and a glamorous romance with big feelings all over the place. I just love it.
By Mutual Consent has everything I want in a romance novel: lots of feelings, hot sex, a story that makes the pages turn quickly.
The cover is awful. It doesn’t do the story justice at all and there’s no real connection to the content of the book.
I loved this book. Now I need to go read more of her books.
Okay I am butting in again. This book is a beautiful balance of angst and desire. Richardson has outdone herself with this work and I adored every well written word. It is right up there on my must-read list of lesbian romances – Sheena
Excerpt from By Mutual Consent by Tracey Richardson
“First, let’s get something straight,” Sarah said. “You don’t really have a problem getting your own dates, right? I mean, if anyone has left a blazing trail of broken hearts behind them, it’s probably you.”
As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she knew she’d made a tactical mistake. That square, handsome jaw of Joss’s clamped down so hard, the ropey muscles of her neck began to bunch up. If her coffee cup had been someone’s neck, they’d be strangled about now.
“What I mean is…” Oh God. Heat shot up Sarah’s throat and into her face. This was not smoothing things out at all. “You’re smart. And nice, of course. And successful. What I’m trying to say is, you’re a good catch. A great catch, I’m sure. And you must be, like, going on dates all the time, right? Not that I mean, like, that you’re breaking hearts left and right…Oh dammit!” Coffee sloshed over Sarah’s cup and onto the table. She sopped it with her napkin, which quickly became saturated.
“Here.” Joss wiped up the rest with her own napkin.
“Thanks,” Sarah said, her face still hot, and she knew it was splotched with red patches. It was the worst thing about being so fair-skinned—she couldn’t hide her emotions worth a crap. “I didn’t mean—”
“I know you didn’t.” Joss smiled for real now. “But it was amusing watching you try to walk it back.”
Sarah’s temper sparked. “Well, I’m glad I can at least provide you with some entertainment.”
“Hey.” Joss awkwardly placed her hand on Sarah’s, then quickly retracted it. “Let’s start this conversation over, all right?”
Get This Book
Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781594934759
Publisher: Bella Books
Find Tracey Richardson Online
Note: I received a free review copy of this book for review. No money was exchanged for this review.