Mia knows stress. She’s dealt with it her whole life. So when she gets an opportunity to run a psychology study to help her get into grad school, it should be no problem dealing with the prickly guy she suddenly finds herself paired with.
The one she had a secret crush on last year. The one who refuses to let anyone close. The one she’s discovering by the day may have a softer side than he lets anyone else see…
Tyler knows stress. He’s grappled with it for as long as he can remember. And just because he has to share credit with this girl on his new psychology study doesn’t mean he has to be friends with her. Except she somehow keeps worming her way into his life. In school. In the boxing gym.
In his bed.
But everyone knows it’s safer to keep to yourself. You can’t hurt anyone that way. Even if it means giving up the best thing that’s ever happened to him.
As things heat up in the Stress Lab, will this match be able to work together without disruption, or will this growing attraction between them eventually… combust?
|Series:||Lessons Learned (Book 1)|
|Category / Genre(s):||New Adult|
|Trope(s):||Enemies to Lovers|
Friends to Lovers
Workplace Romance (sort of!)
|Point of View:||First Person, Present Tense, Dual Viewpoint (H & h)|
|Release Date:||9th March, 2021|
A delight from beginning to end
I have enjoyed Allie Winters’ contemporary adult romances before but this is the first of her new adult romances that I’ve read – but it definitely won’t be the last as I just adored it.
The story is in some ways quite simple – Mia and Tyler are tasked to work on a research project together. Mia’s former crush on the smart jock takes a nose dive when she realises Tyler is grumpy and rude. But as the two spend time together and get to know each other, real feelings begin to emerge, confusing and challenging them both.
No word of a lie, Mia was an absolute inspiration and a delight. She was definitely the sunshiney character against Tyler’s grumpy one – yet she had such a depth about her. She had a sass in her that I couldn’t help but cheer for and while she was vulnerable when it came to Tyler, it didn’t cloud her judgement or her reasoning. But the thing that I hands down adored about Mia was the way she dealt with her anxiety. Her struggles were unbelievably relatable and I felt myself sardonically amused by her battles with her inner critic. The inspiration I felt at her determination to conquer and take control of her mental health motivated me to do the same.
Tyler was also a great character and one I very much enjoyed reading about. He, too, was a little bit broken and had found his own coping mechanisms some good and some bad. The boxing helped him channel his anger and gave him a hot body to go along with his shiver-inducing voice and smart mind. Isolating himself from hurt and pain only seemed to cause him more of that very thing. Having said that, I very much enjoyed him slowly drop his walls around Mia and lose his heart to her – even as he desperately clung to the notion that he cared not one jot. Ha!
Mia and Tyler were the perfect pairing and they had a delightful chemistry with some heat thrown in for good measure. Deliciously sexy. But it wouldn’t have worked without the fact that Mia and Tyler had a genuine friendship and caring for each other. I do love a couple who have both the banter and the sex. Thumbs up from me.
As I said, the story itself is fairly simple in its premise, but it’s in the execution where the tale is elevated to the next level. The writing is exemplary – engaging and honest. It not only draws you in but makes you feel for the characters as well as relate to them – whether you are 21 like our characters or, like me, are definitely not.
This is the first book in a new series by Winters and I for one cannot wait to get my hands on the next book and next couple. This book is also set in Penny Reid’s Educated Romance World. I have no experience or knowledge of that world, and there was nothing that confused me from this book – so previous reading or knowledge is not required.
Every page of this book was an absolute delight to read and I happily lived in this world with these characters while reading. It’s a story that connected with me and written in a way that is sure to touch your heart. I love a book that treats mental health issues with the gravitas and dignity that it deserves, without every becoming bigger than the story itself. We’re here for the romance, after all. A delight from beginning to end. Recommended and worth 5 stars.
Allie lives in sunny Florida with her husband, daughter, and two cats. A librarian by day, she spends her nights writing happily ever afters. She enjoys reading, playing video games, and all things Disney.