As I stated in a previous post, I don’t read a lot of romance. I don’t necessarily have anything against the genre, but my feeling has always been that it is hard to find “good” books in the genre. Having said that, I was very happy when my reading group chose romance for our genre study 2018-2019 because it has given me the opportunity to explore this genre thoroughly and hopefully find some titles that I enjoy as well as books and authors I would feel comfortable recommending to patrons. This month’s theme is erotica and the first book I read is “Off the Clock.” It took me a while to find a book that a) sounded interesting and had good reviews and b) I could find in a library somewhere. Erotica is still a genre that makes many libraries uncomfortable. This book has a pretty good rating on Goodreads and Roni Loren has a good reputation in the romance community so I was excited to read it. Overall, I enjoyed this book, even though I had some issues with the plot and the writing.
As a college student, Marin Rush had a crush on her TA, Donovan West. Through an unlikely set of scenarios, they end up working together on West’s sex therapy research project and spend one night together before Marin’s world changes forever and they part ways. Flash forward several years and Marin is now a doctor, conducting her own sex therapy research. When she is offered a job as a therapist at the prestigious Grove Institute, she jumps at the chance. Imagine her surprise when her new colleague and assigned mentor turns out to be Donovan West. When she confides to him that her lack of sexual experience has her fearful that she can do her job, he offers to help her, off the clock. (*wink wink*)
The setup to this book was actually pretty good and there is a lot of backstory. I appreciate that Loren tried to make both main characters interesting and give them histories that would explain their thoughts and behaviors. As is typical with a lot of romances, the male character must have something tragic in his past that makes his brooding and general asshole-ness understandable. This book is no exception but at least Loren gives Marin a similar back story to make the characters bond and find common ground with each other. She also skirts around the virgin trope by giving Marin ONE sexual experience and therefore she is technically not a virgin. I caught a few sentence structure issues throughout the book and Loren could have used another pass through on the editing front but it wasn’t as bad as other books in this genre I have read (this book was published by Berkley, an offshoot of Penguin Publishing.) These small errors didn’t take away from my reading experience but I wish more editing had been done. The sex scenes were hot and plentiful and pretty much the only reason you should read this book. There is even talk of consent which was refreshing and appreciated. However, the major issue I had with this book was the way mental health is discussed. Marin and Donovan are both supposed to be licensed therapists but Marin questions how someone like Donovan, always happy and smiling, could be depressed and at one point, Donovan refers to himself as “broken.” These are supposed to be mental health professionals! I found this to be a bit jarring and unexpected, especially since Loren herself is a licensed social worker. However, in general, I liked all the characters in the book and didn’t find them annoying (which can be a problem for me with romances).
Overall, I enjoyed this book for what it was—a hot erotic romance. Yes, there is a bit of a love story and yes there is some character development, but this book is best if you are looking for erotica that is fairly well written and realistic with several hot sex scenes.
Author: Roni Loren
Rating: 3.5 Stars