Aww you guys – here’s another romance with a set up that is so catnippy that you’ll one-click by the end of this paragraph. Rafe is a contemporary romance about a divorced Black surgeon who needs a nanny on short notice for her twin six year old daughters. Enter Rafe, a professional nanny who has worked for several families and has glowing references. He’s also tall, covered with tattoos, ginger, bearded, and rides a motorcycle. He describes himself as “calm and gentle and not about the bullshit.” Be still, my heart.
Our story begins when Sloan, a surgeon, comes home and discovers that her nanny quit in the middle of the day. Sloan has to find a new nanny and Rafe is an experienced nanny who just finished his employment with a family who moved out of the country (they wanted him to come with them, but he declined). His references are great, the twins like him, he cooks, he’s responsible, and the only thing that worries both Sloan and Rafe is that they are immediately attracted to each other, which they realize could cause all kinds of complications.
I struggled a little bit with the employer/employee aspect and then just decided to roll with it. Given the amount of harassment and power imbalance in workplace situations, I avoid employer/employee romances, but this book handled the situation as well as possible. Rafe and Sloan are very direct and honest with each other about the situation. They both seem clear with themselves and with each other that Rafe’s continued employment is not at stake regardless of what happens sexually or romantically. I loved how they communicated about sex and relationships in a low key, no pressure way but with just a bit of self-conscious awkwardness.
The description includes the following note:
This stand-alone romance is fluffy. So fluffy. It’s fluff. Low. Angst. Fluff. Featuring a large tatted, motorcycle riding ginger man, who bakes a mean bacon quiche and knows exactly how to wrangle clever six year olds while making their mom feel loved, loved, loved.
The only thing the above quote leaves out is that the mom is a smart and successful Black surgeon who is raising Black daughters and is WONDERFUL. And y’all, Rafe uses YouTube and patience and learns how to braid their hair, which, OMG. Also the twins are like real kids. They have different personalities and they get into different kinds of trouble. Sloan is always in charge of bath night and this usually features at least one naked kid running around the house and a lot of screaming (mostly from the twins). Just because they are great kids doesn’t mean they aren’t hard to parent or nanny.
Some elements of this story defy plausibility, but that somewhat goes with the “fluff.” This book isn’t devoid of emotional weight. Rafe had a tough upbringing, Sloan has a controlling ex, her hours are long, and no one ever gets enough sleep. For the most part, this book is super escapist. But Rafe and Sloan become an item very quickly and the drama with the ex is resolved much more easily than I think it would be in real life.
Here’s the bit that just got me right in the feels:
I’m a tall White dude with a bunch of tattoos. I know how that freaks people out. I’ve also spent my whole life being calm and gentle with children. It’s alright just to be a calm and gentle guy.
I loved these characters and also the relationships they had with their friends and their families. I just could not get enough of the character dynamics, no matter who was on the page. It’s such a warm, loving (and very explicitly sexy) story, with an underlying daring in terms of subverting gender norms.