Let a guy buy her a drink: tick
Try something new: tick
Hook-up with someone: . . . not quite
For one night only, Naya’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For once, she’ll forget about her demanding job and, with the help of her new to-do list, practice flirting with a charming stranger . . .
Jake might be just what Naya never knew she was looking for. He’s sexy, he makes her laugh and he challenges Naya to rebuild her lost confidence.
But the best things in life are never easy, and the complicated strings around dating Jake might just destroy her career. Naya has two options: she can protect her professional reputation and return to her old life, or she can flirt with the unknown and stay with the person who makes her feel like she’s finally living again . . .
- Title: How to Fail at Flirting
- Author: Denise Williams
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK
- Genre: Contemporary Romance, Adult
- Age Range: Adult
- Trigger warnings: Abusive Ex, Stalking
- Rating: ★★★★☆
Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Even though I have read a lot more than the average person in November, I still felt a bit slumpish. What’s my secret to battling the cursed book slump? Romance. Especially rom-com style. This is when I felt How to Fail at Flirting would save me. In short, it did. But this was not completely light-hearted.
Normally, light-hearted is the main ingredient of a contemporary romance and that is exactly the reason why it helps with getting your reading mojo back. You don’t want to figure out the family tree in an epic fantasy. You just want quick fun! Now, this novel was enjoyable and a quick read. Naya and Jake were very flirty and had amazing banter (I could just read their quips all day!), but Naya is a survivor of domestic violence and she is still in the process of healing. Sadly, her abusive ex comes back in her life and ruins her progress. This is revealed in the beginning chapter. If this is a topic that triggers you, please go forward with caution. There are flashback scenes and a present encounter.
Let’s move on to the romance! Because of her traumatic past relationship, Naya turned into a hermit and would hide herself and her body. She started wearing baggy clothes and never went out anymore in fear of running into her ex. Her friends convinced her it was time to put herself out there again and together they jokingly made a sexy checklist to spice up Naya’s life. Naya is a sucker for a good list and so am I! I really relate to her stationary ways. Anyone else have a bullet journal?
Naya and her friends agree to implement her list on a weeknight (to ease her into the scene), but her friends have to bail last minute leaving Naya alone at the bar. Luckily, she isn’t lonely for long.
This is where Jake enters the scene. Naya decides to practice her flirting skills and attempt her first one night stand. It doesn’t take long for sparks to fly. After a disastrous end to a very lovely night, Naya believes she will never see him again. Luckily, Jake had got her number from their night out when he had to send her a picture they took together. He starts texting her and wants to take her out again. I won’t go into to much detail because I don’t want to spoil. But this is a romance, so am I really spoiling anything? I’ll just say Jake is very swoon worthy.
There is a background plot of Naya’s teaching career. They are making cuts and she is worried her department will be shut down just one year short of her tenure. This is how her ex enters back into her life. He is part of the team making the cuts. She tries to keep her career separate from Jake for now obvious reasons, but a twist is revealed that complicates things.
The scenes with Naya and Jake were steamy and delicious. Naya was finally receiving proper attention and pleasure. It was liberating to read. I loved the way Williams wrote their scenes! I recently read her interview on Tea Time Lit’s blog and she reveals she has way more sexy scenes that got cut! I would love for some to be released one day.
I also really loved the representation we got from Naya’s character (Black/Mexican American) and from the side characters (mlm relationship). I’m Mexican and loved the cultural references when she talked about her father.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and recommend to fans of sexy adult romances and trauma survivors. It was a healthy balance and so refreshing to read. Naya was so relatable and her story was beautifully written. Let me know if you plan to pick this up and tell me your thoughts if you have already read it!
Thank you Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK for the arc! This title was released December 1, 2020.