Rhiannon is the CEO and founder (with her silent partner Katrina) in Crush, a dating app that allows the user to take control of the interactions: the type, the duration and even the contacts. Brilliant, jaded and with enough trust issues to fill the LA Coliseum, she’s determined to make her company the top in the industry, even if she does occasionally use the database to scratch her own itches. After a disastrous start in the industry with her boss and former boyfriend who used her determination and refusal to lose against her, she’s worked hard in business to not only create a modern and ‘forward thinking’ app, but to have a company committed to excellence, be it in their workplace environment to her own personal bravado. She has, however, decided that she wants to acquire the ‘godmother’ of the internet dating sites, Matchmaker, one that is more geared to ‘long term’ relationships with goals of marriage and family. While her app isn’t a guarantee of this, they do have options and a success rate that means she knows that there’s both a need and a niche for her particular app. Samson Lima is a retired pro football player who dealt with CTE in both his father and uncle, in fact his uncle has just passed – after years of Samson being his caretaker and devoted nephew. Samson’s uncle and father both were pros ‘back in the day’, with multiple concussions and the resulting issues that came after retirement. And, while Samson’s parents were ‘introduced’ via Matchmaker, and his uncle was the long-term partner of one of the founders of Matchmaker, Samson himself has never been in a long-term relationship, nor has he wanted one. But he can’t get the memory of the one night he spent with the gorgeous woman he met by swiping right on the Crush app. These two are not only adorable and more than a bit burdened by their own issues, but are perfectly suited for one another. Rhi is headstrong, prone to impulsive responses, and wholly unwilling to ask for help or to appear weak. Samson is loyal, sweet, protective and utterly ignorant to the internet, slang or the changes in dating since he actually did several years back. With some subtle manipulations, a ton of revelations and plenty of people cheering them both on in ways subtle and not, the story unfolds to mix heat and heart with a dash of family and understanding to bring us this. Additionally Rai has both mixed her cast of characters with a diverse and multi-hued paintbrush: there isn’t a big deal made of anyone’s race or appearance, their experiences, lives, appearances and friendships feel natural and real – very much like the real world, with additions of contemporary issues that encompass CTE and the fights of former players for rights and support from the NFL to workplace harassment from subtle put-downs to racial slurs, violence and blackmailing. There are few things NOT to like about this book – primarily Rhi’s old boss / boyfriend Peter is tops on that list, but the charm, sweetness and pure rightness of Sam and Rhi is not tobe denied. A favorite read for sure, and one that bodes well for the next book in the series. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
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