Driven to Distraction by Olivia Dade (Lovestruck Librarians #5)
Published by: Lyrical Shine
Genre: Contemporary romance
Order at: Amazon
Reviewed by: Erin
What to Expect: Banter, banging, found family feelings, and a heroine you don’t see too often in romance.
Constance Chen is not the demure kind of librarian. Sure, her high-horsepower ride is Big Bertha the Bookmobile, but Con swears a blue streak, does her own home improvement, and wears steel-toed boots. She has a tight circle of friends, a demanding, beloved sprawl of a Chinese-American family, and a strict hookups-only policy when it comes to men. Her life is just how she wants it. Except for one maddeningly sexy footnote.
Sam Wolcott, her friend’s baby brother and the library’s IT star, has been throwing sparks with Con since he moved to town. To everybody else, he’s a thoughtful, sensitive sweetheart. To Con, he’s a cantankerous pedant, because if they don’t fight nonstop their clothes will spontaneously combust. Sam needs a commitment Con won’t–can’t–give. And neither of them will chance their hard-won bonds for pure lust.
Too bad Con and Sam have a whole week in a very tiny, very private space to sustain their dumb arguments. Alone. What happens in the Bookmobile might take their resistance right out of circulation .
Olivia Dade is an author I’ve seen a lot of people talking to/about on Twitter, but I hadn’t given her a try before I saw this book pop up on NetGalley. Cute cover, author I’ve been meaning to read…why not?
Well, I picked up this book, read about three sentences if her fun, funny, witty, fast prose and yelped “Oh shit!” out loud. YES. YES! I immediately bought the first book in the series. I immediately followed her on Twitter. And then I put the rest of her books on my TBR. I love when that happens! Hell yeah, new to me authors!
Driven to Distraction is the 5th book in the Lovestruck Librarians series, but the books can be read out of order. This is the story of Constance Chen, bookmobile librarian, avid gardener, and big sister to a lot of needy younger siblings. She’s not into relationships, just hookups, because she likes her life just as it is. She’s an adult with a fully-formed sense of herself. She’s not looking for someone to “complete” her or add complications to her life. Constance is funny and profane, good at her job, good with kids, and trying really hard not to be into Sam, the hot IT guy at the library.
Sam is a Good Dude. He wants people to like him. He’s cheerful, helpful, and friendly…and terrified of rejection. When he was young, his mom left to start a new family, then the father who raised him died young. He only has the sister he recently reconnected with, who happens to be one of Con’s best friends. Sam wants a huge family to replace the one he never had growing up – the white picket fence, a million kids. He is also completely head over heels for Con.
The sex is hot and the romance is adorable. They fall in bed, fall in love, and are generally adorable. He supports her, respects her, and does everything he can to make her overwhelmed, complicated life easier. She lets down her defenses, lets him in, and begins to understand what having a true partner is all about.
Dade takes her time to carefully build the relationship here. You are swept up in their romance, your heart melts at each step they take. You root for them and cheer them on and it all climaxes in a beautiful, heartfelt proposal…a little over halfway through the book.
[SPOILERS for the book starting now.]
[I mean it. SPOILERS.]
The conflict in this book is painful in its simplicity: He wants kids. She doesn’t.
This is non-negotiable for both of them, (she had her tubes tied years ago) so where does that leave them? It’s heartbreaking, because they are no less in love. There isn’t an evil cousin or a deep, dark secret holding them apart. These are two people who love each other deeply, whose lives are intertwined, who care for and support each other…and they have to walk away. It’s devastating.
Not helping matters is the fact that Sam doesn’t handle it well. He is sure Con will change her mind. Of course someone as good as kids as she is will want some of her own, right? Now that she’s in love and getting married, won’t she change her mind? Can’t they adopt? Sam has a lot to come to terms with before he can think about being with Con.
I can’t think of the last time where a book’s black moment felt so real and painful and uncontrived. Also, it’s rare that you see a heroine who doesn’t want kids and whose mind doesn’t get magically changed by the man and/or his magical penis. (I think this book is going to end up on a lot of rec lists for that reason.)
It’s a serious enough rift that my only quibble with the book is that I wasn’t entirely sure of the resolution – can he really give up the idea of kids for the idea of found family? – but that may be a bias on my part as someone who has kids as doesn’t see those types of relationships as similar.
Con and Sam get their HEA, no fear, but Dade makes them work for it, without sacrificing her fun, sharp, quick-witted style. I highly recommend this book, and I’m looking forward to devouring her back catalog.
What you might not like: Um. I don’t know. Dade has strong style/voice and that won’t work for everyone, I guess?
What I loved: Smart, fast dialogue, a big group of found-family friends, a love story for the ages, and a heartbreakingly real conflict.
Erin is a full time contributor to Binge on Books. She is a voracious reader and reviewer who has been been reading romances since she stole them from under her neighbor’s mom’s bed while she was at work. You can read all her reviews here.
Connect with Erin on Twitter: @booksandjoe