On the Square – Brenda Murphy

Rating: 4 out of 5.
I’d never read Murphy before this book but I found myself unable to put this down – reading the whole thing in one sitting. Mai, a TV chef, moves back to small town life after losing her show and hires Dale as a contractor to renovate her restaurant. They try to deny their feelings for each other for the sake of their business arrangement, so the majority of the book is about the MCs getting to know each other.

I really appreciated the different ways Murphy explored all of the contrasting elements of both MCs characteristics, through their jobs, their gender presentations, their families and in bed. The sex scenes are steamy and include some light BDSM in places. I really liked both characters and rarely for me I couldn’t choose a favourite between the two.

I especially enjoyed the family dynamics in this story, with both characters being in their 40s and the sons being older, it gave a new dimension to things I’ve been reading recently. As a step-parent of older children Mai’s interactions with the boys felt familiar from the getting to know each other stage – adding an authenticity to the story I really welcomed. There is also a secondary story in the book regarding one of Dale’s sons that comes across as enjoyably authentic.

Overall this is a good romance with enough compelling aspects to keep things interesting and make it a worthwhile read.

It should be noted the book does include some incidences of racism and homophobia.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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