Book review: Stroked by Meghan Quinn

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Sound tech Paisley is thrilled when her best friend and roommate Jonathan gets her a job in the industry. Sure, it’s just assisting on a reality show, but it’s better than nothing. The star Paisley ends up working for is the delusional, over-the-top drama queen Bellini – a girl famous for her family’s wealth and nothing more. As if the job isn’t hard enough, Bellini’s boyfriend is gorgeous Olympic swimmer Reese. Paisley is immediately attracted to Reese but knows that nothing can ever happen with her boss’s boyfriend.

Until it does.

So let me just start off by saying that I love Meghan Quinn. I’ve read a few of her other books, I follow her on Instagram, I think she’s a generally great person. I was really excited to read this book. Unfortunately, I took issue with it from the beginning.

Let’s start with Bellini. A lot of readers had a problem with her character, and I can totally understand that. It’s revealed very quickly that the relationship between Bellini and Reese is entirely fake. It’s only for publicity, and there are absolutely no romantic feelings involved. Bellini is awful. She doesn’t have a single redeeming quality. Personally, I understood why her character was there and didn’t really have a problem with it, but I did think it was a little odd that Reese had to maintain this fake relationship with her and that neither Reese nor Paisley felt bad about getting together behind her back. Their insistence that their relationship had to be a complete secret really freaked me out. That is not healthy behavior.

Then there’s the best friend/roommate, Jonathan. Starting about 10% in, Paisley begins to reassure us that there’s nothing going on between her and Jonathan. Some quotes:

Is Jonathan a ruggedly handsome man? Of course. And does he call me sweetheart and make me dinner? Naturally. And have I seen his penis almost every single day? Yes, but not by demand. But is there any kind of romantic vibe between us? None whatsoever. Not even the slightest inkling.

“What?” He holds up his hands and smirks at me. “You may be my best friend, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see your boobs. It’s a natural wonderment. I bet if I didn’t walk around naked you would be curious too. I’ve seen your ass plenty of times, what’s a little T to go with that A?”

“But I made you coffee … with love. You should be alive and ready for the day.”
“With love? What is with love?”
“You know, stirring in your cream while naked,” Jonathan says with laughter.

Mhmm. Totally platonic. Am I seriously supposed to believe that this guy doesn’t have romantic feelings for her?

Anyway, on to the relationship between Paisley and Reese. Red flags and warning bells were going off willy nilly throughout this book. Reese is hot. I get that. But that does not excuse his behavior. In the book, he’s described as “insanely jealous” and “animalistic” when Paisley spends time with another man. He also becomes “obsessive” if she doesn’t immediately return a text. Is that supposed to be sexy? Personally, I like my freedom, and any guy who’s going to turn into an animal because I’m spending time with a friend or not dropping everything to answer his text is not a guy that I want to be with. But I guess Paisley likes it?

Our relationship might not be conventional, and we might have to hide it, but all the worry is worth it for moments like this.

(aka: this relationship is super unhealthy, but the sex is good)

The two are also very clear on the fact that they can’t get caught because then Paisley would lose her job. Reese is evidently allowed to tell his friends, but Paisley can’t even tell Jonathan. But despite their secrecy, they are

constantly

sexting. They don’t even try to hide their texts. They never clear out their history. Paisley has Reese in her phone with his first and last name followed by a swimming emoji! What happens when your phone is out on set and Bellini sees one of Reese’s sexts pop up on your screen? What then?!

I’m going to avoid getting into spoilers here, although nothing that happens is particularly shocking. The plot moves along basically exactly how I would expect it to, although the characters seem shocked at every turn. I guess I just expected more from Meghan Quinn. Not only were the characters and the entirety of the plot disappointing, but the book was filled with typos. The whole thing just felt rushed and poorly developed and was just not what I had hoped for.

I had initially given this book three stars, but that’s just not right. It didn’t quite hit one-star territory, so I guess I’ll go with two.

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

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