Review of On the Line

On the Line by Liz Lincoln. Loveswept. 2018.

(Note: This review discusses a boss/employee relationship. Content warnings for the book are at the end of the review.)

On the Line by Liz LincolnThis was light, and sweet, and sexy, and I enjoyed it just as much the second read! This contemporary m/f romance has a lovely meet-cute and a slow burn that really smolders. It centers football player single dad and his new nanny, a former science teacher and huge geek, who just happens to be his old friend’s little sister and the woman who he recently met in the grocery store that he was intensely attracted to and hoping to date…and now can’t because she’s his new nanny.

The set up is made for slow burn and for some really funny moments, and it delivers on both. I especially appreciated the bit where they go to a comics convention, because his tween daughter is as into comics as the heroine. It has some lovely geek romance classic moments.

I fell hard for Carrie, enjoyed her so much as a character. I liked watching Seth with his kid; it was great to watch him fumble and struggle and move from a place of such deep love. I know very little about football, but found the football bits entertaining. They definitely played to readers like me as Carrie is new to learning about football. The hero is managing ogoing pain and injuries, and there was surprisingly little that bugged me about this representation. It didn’t generally play into ableism, which was a pleasant surprise, and I really appreciated that the hero was mostly just represented as someone who had chronic pain and was trying to manage it so he could do his life, while sometimes finding it irritating.

The slow burn was delicious, and the MCs have great chemistry. I liked the way it was drawn out, from the meet cute at the beginning, all the way through. It felt like there was so much that went into the sex scenes when they got there, so much UST but also just the intensity and complexity of their connection. I liked that, enjoyed how into each other they were.

There is a nice moment where the book challenges heteronormativity by having the hero ask if the heroine is into men, instead of assuming. I appreciated that, and liked that it wasn’t bi erasing, along with making room for queerness. It made the book feel more welcoming to me as a queer reader. This was marred later by the fact that the hero thinks about his “biggest, hairiest” teammates naked as a way to eliminate his erection. I found that difficult to read as both a queer and a fat reader.

I am generally a bit wary when it comes to boss/employee relationships in romance, as the power differentials and stakes for employees are often elided and consent can be sketchy at best. This book openly sets out the stakes–she needs the job, has no other prospects and the place to live is also important for her. Those stakes are restated by her multiple times, and she states outright that she needs the job and them having sex cannot mess it up, before they have sex. While they never really talk about the power differential, the set up clearly establishes mutual desire, throughout, and Carrie’s consent is very clear, and very clearly something Seth cares about. While I wish they had openly talked about the power differential, I generally felt okay about this relationship, felt it was consensual, and was pretty upfront about the ways that their mutual desire continually blurred the boundaries for both of them, where they would dance toward each other and then dance away because the risk was too big. Where the stakes get lost a bit is near the end, when everything falls to pieces; I wanted there to be more acknowledgement of the material impact on Carrie. After all (spoiler, highlight to read) even though it works out okay by the end, she loses her job and her housing, and after she was very clear with him that she could not. 

There are a few other things in this book that I generally am not into as romance tropes, that are all rather common in the genre: an evil ex, a big deal made out of making love being vastly different from fucking in a way that relies on cultural symbolism instead of specificity, and jealousy as a driver to recognize romantic feelings.

That said, there was much that I enjoyed about this romance, and the second read cemented it as a comfort read for me. I like the kid in it a lot, and was glad that she really had her own personality. I adored Carrie, and enjoyed her dynamic with Seth. I loved the geekery, and enjoyed the football aspect. It’s likely that I will be rereading this one again!

Representation

  • Hero with a sports related injury
  • Spoonie author.

Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)

Sex on the page. Boss/employee relationship; they never really talk about the power differential. Evil ex/mother of his child. Child in peril (she ends up being okay). The hero thinks about his “biggest, hairiest” teammates naked as a way to eliminate his erection. 

Disclosures

  • Source of the book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley.
  • I have had no contact with the author.

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