Review: Sex in the Sticks by Sawyer Bennett (2017)

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My Rating: 4 stars                                          Read: 4/15/2017

Release Date: May 2, 2017

Blurb:

Wake up and feel the wood! In the first of a series of irresistible standalone romances from New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett, a city girl rediscovers love and lust in the Alaskan wilderness.

Valentine French may be the sassiest dating columnist in New York City, but the abundance of metrosexuals in her adopted metropolis is seriously cramping her style. Where are the beefy all-American boys? Hoping to find some inspiration, Val heads to Alaska, where the men outnumber the women fifteen to one and wrestle grizzly bears for sport. Or so she can only imagine. Suddenly the most eligible bachelorette in a town full of horny lumberjacks, Val is writing her best columns ever. But if she doesn’t get her nose out of her laptop, she just might miss out on Mr. Right.

Logan Burke is the sheriff of the little podunk town that Val finds so charmingly backward. He’s not that different from the guys she’s using for her little experiment; it’s just that one date would never be enough for Logan. As he listens to Val complain about love over beers in the local tavern, he realizes that she can’t see the forest for the trees. Because if she would ever give up her Prada bags and fourteen-dollar martinis, Logan would give her the only luxury that matters: his heart.

My Review:

I read two books before this that were tedious, so it was a pleasure to slip into this book and immediately be absorbed. This is a fast read that goes down like water. It’s entertaining and well written. There are some funny bits (though I wouldn’t call it primarily a rom com) and a considerable amount of steamy sex scenes.

Valentine is a rich, trust fund New Yorker who doesn’t know what to do with her time (besides shop), so she writes a blog called “Valentine’s Couch” about dating and sex. Blog entries include subjects like “How to deep throat”. Part of the reason she writes this blog is to get back at her rich parents who are snobs. (okay) Bored with writing about metrosexual New York men, Valentine decides to go check out men in other settings, like Alaska.

There are definite “fish out of water” aspects to this story, with Valentine arriving in a small Alaskan time with her 4″ heels and designer everythings. She instantly attracts all the male attention and accepts three dates on her first day in town. And that doesn’t even include the hunky police chief who gives her a lift and keeps rescuing her from scary Alaskan situations, like getting lost in the woods.

Police chief Logan, however, has no interest in being in line at a gang bang, and so he tries to steer clear of that woman. It is a bit weird to have someone who looks like Valentine suddenly show up in a small remote town and start dating all the men. Like, what gives? (Valentine isn’t up front about what she’s doing there.) Naturally, the local women aren’t too excited about the new girl in town either, and at one point there’s a cat fight complete with calls of “slut!” and “whore!”

But eventually Logan and Valentine cannot resist their attraction. Logan insists he’s not interested in casual sex, and Valentine agrees to stop her serial dating, and things are good for a while until Logan finds out about Valentine’s blog and the things she wrote about the town–and him.

I’m giving this story 4 stars for being an entertaining and (mostly) fun read. Some things in the plot bothered me early on, but I made a conscious decision not to get hung up on it and just enjoy the ride. But then, interestingly, the author brought these things back up at the end during the crisis and sort of hammered on them. Namely, that Valentine’s blog is rather disgusting when you think about it, and the way she initially views the men in the Alaskan town as comedic fodder, and writes about them in a mocking manner, and then writes about sex with Logan explicitly, and without his knowledge, is really… not nice? slutty? reprehensible?

It’s a tricky plot to navigate here, with the h initially being this “cute” blogger who writes this diiirty girl stuff and is all confident and funny about sex, and then have her get her comeuppance. I’m not sure it 100% works, because the author couldn’t quite stick to that “confident sex” thing and got realistic about it at times, like during the cat fight when there’s slut shaming going on (deservedly so), and then later there is real hurt over what Valentine wrote about Logan. It almost seems if you’re going to create a fantasy in which the saavy New Yorker is carefree about sex, you need to carry that through. Once you get into realism about what the h is actually doing, it becomes very difficult to like that character.

However, in this story, Valentine realizes her mistakes, repents, and goes quite far to make it up to Logan and the town. So if you are willing to just have fun with this story and be forgiving about your characters, this is an entertaining light romance. I really liked the Alaskan setting and hope we’re there for book 2 in the series.

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