Reviewing: Riling Up Sarah
Author: Christie Curry
Contact: @christiecurry25 on Instagram/Twitter/TikTok
Length of book: 31 Chapters-274 Pages-Approx 80K words
Genre of book: Contemporary Romance/RomCom
Overall impression: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Good afternoon lovelies! It's been a couple weeks since I gave you a review of anyone’s work, so today I’m giving you My Two Cents on the, as yet, unpublished, debut novel Riling Up Sarah by Christie Curry.
Why did I read Christie’s book?
I met Christie during a Twitter pitch, and was won over by her use of this bomb dot com mood board which called me to her book so strongly I actually reached out via dm and asked to read it! (thankfully, she separated me from the string of weird Twitter DM gremlins out there and answered 😂)
She described her main character as a plus-sized, coffee-loving, stress-baking, smart-ass with a dark sense of humor; which I related to on a far too personal level to ever be considered healthy. And I needed to know more. So I read the book (twice actually) and after the second read, Christie finally agreed to let me write this Advanced Reader Review.
After months of talking, and too many messages to count, I have to say, Christie and I might be twins separated at birth! I truly understand her POV and I love her book almost as much as my own. I'm rooting for her (and her MCs Sarah/Nick) because I know this book deserves to be published. (note, this book is not yet published, but is currently seeking representation, so publishers/agents please reach out because 🔥🔥)
What is Riling Up Sarah? (the following is my interpretation of the book, not the jacket blurb so it in no way represents the actual writers skills)
RILING UP SARAH is an 84,000-word steamy contemporary workplace romance.
Sarah Abrams’ life has gone the way of stale, plain, Starbucks dripped coffee. It's old, cold and nobody wants it. She spends her days fantasizing about two things; shattering the glass ceiling, and kissing Nick Jacobs’ stupidly smug face.
In her eyes, Sarah’s never been quite enough. Not for her father, not for her boss, and especially not for her gorgeous new co-worker, Nick Jacobs, who’s pushed her buttons for a year’s worth of elevator rides, but never takes it beyond playful banter.
But when a promotion becomes available, Sarah decides to finally stop hiding behind her quick wit and put herself out there for the first time in a long time. She vows to throw herself into her work, make the boss-from-hell notice her, and stop searching for Nick’s taunting, yet enticing, smirk lurking around every corner. If Nick can prove he's not the monster Sarah’s painted him as; and Sarah can accept that she not only deserves the hunky man but also everything she wants from her career, she might just learn to be enough for the person that matters the most: herself.
More details about why I gave a five-star review:
I've said it before but I'll say it again… I’m not one who generally gives out five-star reviews unless they’re truly earned. In fact, historically, I’m hard to please (just ask my husband 😉).
That being said, Christie’s book is worth the five stars because it checks every box in the standards I hold romance books to.
✔️Main characters you love, relate to, and/or want to root for.
YES, YES, YES! ✔️✔️✔️
Sarah Abrams is a real, relatable, full-figured heroine that struggles, just like all of us. She struggles with an eating disorder (which inherently comes with a host of other mental health issues), a hard relationship with her father, and low self esteem. Throughout the book, she learns the most important person to please (and love) is herself, and in that realization opens her heart to Nick.
And let's talk about Nick Jacobs. Several of Christie’s early readers have mentioned that they think Nick is “too perfect” but I wholeheartedly disagree. The book is narrated with a single POV from Sarah's perspective. So obviously the observations of Nick are made by Sarah (a curvy woman who struggles with her own self-image compared to a man who perfectly fits into society’s standards of ‘beauty’)
But Nick’s inability to make a move on Sarah is indicative of his own struggle with self-esteem. Sure, he's more in line with societal beauty norms (like any self-respecting hunky, tall, good-smelling piece of man-candy book boyfriend deserves to be) but he still struggles with self-doubt and insecurity just like everyone else. Which again, makes him relatable AF and exactly what I want from a romance hero.
✔️Conflict that makes sense and moves the story forward
I won't give spoilers here, but suffice it to say, Sarah starts out loving Nick (for a brief second and half). Then she hates him. Followed by some H-L-A-O-T-V-E-E (hate mixed with love), then some lust, and finally they end up realizing they both wanted each other the whole time. It's not a spoiler that this book is a romance and ends with the MCs together, it's as it should be. So thank you for that Christie!!!
Could there potentially be added/taken away conflict? Maybe. But I love the story line as it is, and if I bought this book tomorrow I would be happy to pay the $15-20 to read it.
✔️Steamy scenes that don't make me want to 🤮
Ok, so, let's talk about 🔥🔥.
I give her seggsy scenes 🔥🔥🔥.5/🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 (3.5/5)
She gives enough detail to make you understand and feel in the moment but not so much that you're blushing. Because I know Christie, I know she LOVES to read a romance book filled with seggsy scenes. In fact, romance books gain her ✔️ or ❌ based on their spicy scenes. So color me surprised that her scenes were very poetically written with a lot of flowery detail that gives you all the feels. They are very well handled and while not the seggsy-est scenes I've ever read, they do give you everything you want.
I have read A LOT of romance and too many seggsy scenes are unrealistic and the descriptions make me uncomfy and want to close the book. No worries about that here, ‘nuff said!
✔️An easy-to-read style that stays consistent
Her book had me laughing on page one. It truly is equal parts rom and com. If you aren't laughing, we probably can't be friends. And it keeps going throughout. It's an easy, beach read and just the kind of book I look for when I want to escape.
✔️Enough emotional depth that I laugh, cry, get mad, get embarrassed, or whatever other emotion the characters should be feeling
Admittedly, I gave this away up above, but it's funny. I also felt sad, mad and really, really embarrassed for the characters.
Deep feelings freak me out (which I'm sure says something disturbing about me) so this book was right up my alley. I did cry, but they were tears of laughter. There are definitely some parts I could imagine someone who wasn't dead on the inside might cry, but not this gal! 😂😂
Anyway, the point is, the book has lots of feels, so get onboard for an emotional rollercoaster.
✔️Writing that is well done and doesn't have me editing in my head along the way
So I said it before, but let me reiterate, I read this as a beta. Of course I did make some editing suggestions, because as a beta, that's my job. The story isn't 100% done, but like I've also said, if I bought this book tomorrow, I’d be happy. The writing is great, and the attention to detail is on point.
✔️A happily ever after (or happily for now)
It's a romance. And as they should, the characters end up together. If that's not what you want, then don't read romance. That's all I have to say about that!
Ok, so what does it all boil down to?
Agents/Publishers, PLEASE PUBLISH RILING UP SARAH!
If you're a fan of RomCom, you're going to love Christie’s book!
If she can get past the self-doubt all writers seem to have, and trust the book she's written, I know she'll do great things. Also, if she can find the right agent/publisher/editor this book is going to be unstoppable.
I know she has a long illustrious career in writing on the horizon if she keeps it up. So if you’re looking for your next book to read (or publish), I suggest this one! And look for Riling Up Sarah in bookstores near you soon.
Thanks for reading! Have a great week my lovelies!
-Rose Rayne Rivers
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