Release Date: Jun 9, 2020
Heat Level: Hot
Publisher: Grand Central
STEM, Programming, and Catfishing – Oh My!
Rochon’s first book in a new series, The Boyfriend Project immediately grabbed my attention when it was put on pre-order and I knew I had to review. I preface this review with the fact that this is my first Rochon book, I officially popped that cherry and I am glad I did.
Rehash of our plot – Samiah Brooks, finds herself in a disaster viral moment when her would be boyfriend is dating two other women. She confronts this king cat fisher and befriends his other dates. I loved how these women bonded and found each other during a crisis. This mess leads all three women vowing to put off finding a boyfriend for six months to focus on themselves (a great idea). Cue the entrance of one Daniel Collins, ex-marine and new employee at Samiah’s workplace. The attraction is immediate and the coming together is the slowest burn of 2020. Daniel has a secret though and keeping it could ruin the tentative trust he’s found with Samiah.
First, let’s talk about real in romance. A lot of folks don’t like it, and nothing against wanting to fully embrace the fantasy. For me, I find that while I enjoy stepping away from reality, I also find something fulfilling in contemporary romance that draws from the real-world issues and actionable items taking place and shows me and other readers something new. Rochon tackles the challenges faced by women of color in STEM fields through our main heroine Samiah. All her internal and external goals come from past wounds around discrimination and sheer determination to succeed not only for herself but for the ones who come after. Her wounds make her vulnerable to insecurities that people will think she’s not enough and in pursuit of perfectionism which was easy to relate to.
These real-world elements coupled with the grown-up way in which Samiah and Daniel handle their relationship is what made this book good. Daniel’s ability to listen and be empathetic, to not mansplain, and to defend Samiah in a few key moments without stealing her thunder also endeared me to the hero. For all his secrets, Daniel is a super good guy. The best, outside of the lying and hiding things, and he shows it with his smarts, his caring nature and his ability to think for others, not just himself.
What didn’t work for me? The fact the hero and heroine had barely spent more than five minutes together by chapter seven. It jarred me out of the story multiple times with me wondering when these two would finally have some forced proximity. The other thing is the slow, slow, slow burn. Some people love it. I found with this story I didn’t. But, after many hours of soul searching, I realize the reality of the slow burn fit these characters and their situations, they never broke character to fit a cookie cutter type of storytelling. This book breaks out of a mold, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Overall, this is a great summer romance that touches on timely matters and infuses them with romance and how things should happen. A hero who doesn’t mansplain, but listens. A heroine who finds her own empowerment to take risks and chances on dreams. Rochon is leading the way to a new type of romance, one that informs as much as it inspires. I’ll be waiting for the next book in this series with eagerness.