The X Ingredient by Roslyn Sinclair is an erotic romance with a whole bunch of my favourite things. Age gap, thawing ice queen, opposites attract, workplace setting, rich girl/poor girl. They’re all here!
Diana Parker is one of the best lawyers in Atlanta. She’s also known as one of the iciest, making it difficult for her to hire and keep good assistants. Laurie Holcombe isn’t afraid, though, because she needs a job (and fast) if she’s going to keep paying her rent, and she knows she has what it takes to run Diana’s office efficiently.
Diana is taken aback by the young woman who shows up with a strong, smalltown Georgia accent, perky attitude, and a pink streak in her hair, and she immediately dismisses her as a viable candidate. But Laurie leaves the interview with a “You’d be lucky to have me, Ms. Parker,” and follows up with an equally strong email, and Diana gives her the job with a probation period, just in case she’s right about her misgivings.
Diana isn’t right, though, and Laurie proves it by whipping her office into shape. If only Diana could find a similar saviour for her marriage, which is limping along at best, even though her husband ticks all the right boxes for a woman of her position—handsome, successful, and connected.
As an irresistible chemistry grows between them, Diana learns that she might not be as straight as she thinks. But is there a way for them to manage their attraction that can protect their reputations and their hearts?
I freaking love Laurie. She is SUCH a badass, which is due to one major thing: she knows her worth and isn’t afraid to say so. It’s rare to see a character who’s so good at standing up for themselves (the only other one who immediately springs to mind is Elizabeth Draper from Beautiful Dreamer), and maybe it’s in part because I’ve been listening to Lizzo’s songs about self-love a lot this year, but I am here for it.
Diana is a little harder to like at first because she’s so icy and I didn’t care about her marriage (which, whatever, I knew I was reading a lesbian romance, so I’m here for the ladykissing anyway). She has an incredible character arc, though, because she does a lot of growing and changing thanks to Laurie’s influence. She also has an interesting journey as she comes out to herself, which is beautifully done and something we need, since not all people come out when they’re young (Diana is in her 40s).
The Writing Style
This was an engaging read and I had a hard time putting it down once I got started. The dialogue is often very funny, the passion between Diana and Laurie is palpable, and the sex scenes are smoking hot.
Because it’s written in the first person, I also appreciated that it alternates between Diana and Laurie’s perspectives. This allowed us to get to know both women very well, while bringing us directly into what they’re experiencing.
Because The X Ingredient is a workplace romance between a boss and a direct report, who have an 18-year age gap and a massive class gap, it could easily have slid into uncomfortable territory. I was thrilled to see that it doesn’t. Instead, it interrogates the power dynamic between them and really digs into the many ways power intersects for these two women.
It wrapped up a bit too quickly for my liking. Thankfully there was an epilogue to balance it out and give that extra reassurance that they really do have a happily ever after that I can believe in.
If you’re looking for a smart, thoughtful erotic romance, look no further. The X Ingredient is well worth the time and it’s going to live on my to-reread list.
Excerpt from The X Ingredient by Roslyn Sinclair
Ms. Parker has her own cup of coffee at her elbow, poured into what looks like a fine china mug, delicate with a gold rim. For the first time, I see the Keurig coffeemaker in the corner and the tray of pods next to it.
“You’re running low on pods.” I deposit the omelet in front of her, looking decent on a real plate with silverware I found in a break-room drawer. My clinic was lucky to stock plastic forks out of a box.
Speaking of the clinic, one of the best feelings I’ve ever had was e-mailing my old supervisor at 11 p.m. to tell him I quit. Once, I would have felt guilty. Now, I’ve learned that when someone says Starting tomorrow you’re part time, sorry about those benefits, you don’t owe them jack.
Ms. Parker glances over at her coffeemaker. “It seems so. You’ll need to pick some up today. I predict I’ll finish them off by…” Her berry-lipsticked lips purse. “2:30 this afternoon.”
She frowns at me.
“Sorry,” I mumble. “I thought that was a… What can I do for you now, Ms. Parker? I know I’ll need to talk to HR about—”
“Diana,” she says in a clipped voice. “That’s how we do things around here. Though don’t think I don’t appreciate the Southern courtesy.”
My cheeks heat. I didn’t miss the little drawl she used with “courtesy.” From what I read, she’s from Florida, for goodness’ sake, so where does she get off? Then again, Florida’s always been a little bit different.
Surely there are polite people everywhere, though, even if I haven’t been much of anywhere yet.
“Yes, ma’am,” I say, and regret it at once. I hadn’t meant to be provoking. “I mean, yes, Diana.”
I meant to follow that up with something. Ask her again what else I could do for her. For some reason, once her name passes my lips, I’m struck dumb. All I can think is, It felt good in my mouth; it felt beautiful to say.
She blinks up at me, and oh mercy, did she notice? Is that why her cheeks seem a little pinker?
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9783963242717
- Publisher: Ylva Publishing
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