Release Date: Aug 12, 2019
Heat Level: Hot
Imprint: Carina Press
The second house renovation book I’ve read in a month, is this a new theme?
Playing House is the first book in the Uptown series by Ruby Lang. Our protagonists are Chinese-Americans who are urban planners. I’ll be honest until this story I didn’t know such a job existed and that’s the beauty of romance, teaching me about things I never knew and with a love story to boot.
Oliver Huang and Fay Liu know each other, the circle of urban planners is small, but they’ve never hung out. At least not until the fateful day when Fay runs into Oliver and asks him to help her by pretending to be in a relationship so she can rid herself of an overbearing suitor. I make this contemporary sound so historical, but it’s true. What starts as a simple favor quickly turns into hanging out for sheer pleasure and goes from innocent to hot as fast as you can fall backward and pull down a shower curtain.
The story itself is cute. There are modern day elements around Oliver and Fay’s careers that add conflict. From Oliver’s standpoint he’s living with his brother after being laid off, working freelance, and having to figure out if he can still be the person he’s worked so hard to become. For Fay her career is everything, after escaping a dead-end marriage, the boutique company she’s set up is her baby. Without the company who is she. When Oliver and Fay’s work life crashes with their personal adventures plenty of tension arises.
I enjoyed the characters. Oliver is just the type of hero I always end up writing, very beta and not the most adept at navigating tough conversations with anyone from Fay to his mother. His growth in the story is fun, though I wish he would have faced the conflict a bit more head on. Fay is the bull. She’s a spearhead that chargers constantly. I liked seeing her own the wheels and Oliver respecting that part of her, but found her tendency to take over with assumptions frustrating. The author doesn’t leave holes, just for me those things were turn offs.
For a novella, these characters were fully fleshed out. There are plenty of side characters to carry a series and Lang has made New York appear much more appealing to a person who’s never been there. I would be willing to go to experience the architecture alone. Overall, this is perfect for readers who enjoy Mia Sosa or Sarah Morgan.