Etta

Review: The Boy Toy (ARC)

Expected publication: November 17th 2020, 352 pages

Author: Nicola Marsh

A woman ready to give up on love discovers that age is truly just a number in this heartwarming and steamy new romantic comedy by USA Today bestselling author Nicola Marsh.

For almost a decade, successful 37-year-old Samira Broderick has used her bustling LA practice as an excuse to avoid a trip home to Australia. She still resents her meddling Indian mother for arranging her marriage to a man who didn’t stick around when the going got tough, but now with a new job Down Under, she’s finally ready to reconnect with her. And while she’s there, a hot international fling might be just what she needs to get out of her recent funk.

Aussie stuntman, Rory Radcliffe, has been hiding his stutter for years by avoiding speaking roles. When a job he can’t refuse comes up as a reality show host, he knows he’ll need some help for the audition: a dialect coach. But he finds himself at a loss for words when he discovers it’s the same sexy woman with whom he just had a mind-blowing one-night stand…

Samira can think of many reasons why Rory is completely wrong for her: he’s ten years her junior, for one, and he’s not Indian–something Samira’s mother would never approve of. Even if things were to get serious, there’s no reason to tell her mother…is there?

An interracial romance mixed with the May-December storyline made for one entertaining read! It was satisfying to read about an accomplished older woman with a younger (also accomplished) man who both comes from completely different cultural worlds. They not only face issues like any other couple, but they have the age and culture differences to consider as well.  One thing to note about this novel is there is a TON of delicious Indian food described and it will make you hungry no matter the time of day you’re ready!

Samira is a 37-year old physical therapist, who also specializes in dialect and speech therapy. She is originally from Los Angeles and has been living there for the last decade. She finds herself in her home city of Melbourne, Australia to help her cousin, Pia, launch her health center business.  She now has to face her match-making mother who Samira still blames for being a part of her failed marriage to Samira’s ex-husband, Avi. As a divorced, single, childless, older woman, Samira is definitely feeling the cultural pressure, but she’s unsure that she wants to give in and become what her culture expects of her. The struggle between the traditional world on her Indian mother’s side and the more “modern” world on her, now deceased, American father’s side was well-balanced in this novel was really enjoyable to read about. It was well-written and very relatable, even if you don’t fit into this exact struggle.

Rory is a 27-year-old stuntman who has been facing the challenge of being in the acting world while having a stutter. He is determined to help set-up a speech therapy program for underprivileged children with the therapist that helped him in his youth. Unfortunately, stunt work doesn’t pay as well as the speaking roles so he decides it is time to finally speak on camera and is going to audition to host a new reality show in the Australian outback.

These two characters meet in a bar really early on in the novel and hook up during their first meeting. Throughout the story, they then have to try and navigate their feelings for each other as Samira is still planning on returning to Los Angeles when her six month stay ends. There are also the cultural backgrounds to consider as Samira knows her mother wants her to marry an Indian man and is determined to set her up with a handsome Indian ER doctor named Manish.

The two characters face a lot of obstacles, both individually and as a couple, that the author managed to balance well, even though, there was a lot to cover. Divorce, arranged marriages, and fertility issues are just some of the ones Samira faces while Rory faces having a stutter and his own family issue.  I loved how both of them worked through everything and it was written in a very relatable manner as they each had to work towards self-acceptance of their flaws and where to set up their own boundaries. Their journeys weren’t perfect, but they were realistic, which gave the story another layer of fantastic-ness.

There is one “twist” in the novel that’s semi-predictable and takes up the last half of the book. It’s a very heart-warming storyline, but I wish that it happened a little later in the story and we could focus on the carefree fun between Samira and Rory before we go into any storyline that required more depth. I just wanted no-strings attached fun between them while they build their relationship more compared to them just immediately feeling comfortable with each other (while also having a crazy strong attraction to the other).  As the story changes points of view between Rory and Samira, I would have preferred them to contemplate the nuances of what makes them a potentially great couple. Then, they could potentially slowly reveal these thoughts to the other throughout the novel. It’s just one thought; however, the story was great as-is, too. There’s no denying that these two greatly enjoy being with each other.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this story and found it to be an easy read with a lot of depth. I didn’t expect to have so many topics covered in this story and they were done well. The author managed to navigate everything a very relatable and heart-warming manner that made for a fantastic read. Based on the brief insight into her next novel, I will definitely be picking it up in the future to read. I’ve become a fan and cannot wait to see what happens next!

**Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this ARC to review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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