Since I haven't read the novels yet, this free short story (set after The Boss and The Girlfriend) is my introduction to the "Boss-verse". Rumour has it the series was created as an "anti-Fifty Shades of Grey" - Dom/sub, boss/employee, billionaire/middle-class, but without the abuse. That seems fair, but it does mean the inclusion of tropes that piss me off: Both parties in a couple are never truly happy without the other, the most insecure in the relationship is the most loved, etc.
I think I've read so much erotic romance (m/f, m/f/m, m/m/f) that I'm getting bored. Maybe because of the groupings, but also the lack of conflict. A romance guarantees everyone (or at least the main couple) lives happily ever after, which means any conflict in the story doesn't feel real, because you know it'll be solved/tolerated in the end. This is why I prefer erotic FICTION (rather than erotic ROMANCE), but hey - The Hook-Up is free, so I gave it a chance.
So yeah, the beginning and ending don't work for me because they're Neil/Sophie lovey/lusty talk. But the middle with Neil and Emir is AWESOME and actually ground-breaking for me as a reader. Condoms and lube are both common in the romances I've read - as they should be - but The Hook-Up also features condom-oral, dental dams, and latex gloves (which I've never read in fiction unless a sex worker is involved). Sure, Neil and Sophie probably go unprotected because One True Love, but this is the story's unspoken nod that infections do exist in Fictionland after all. (Perhaps even unwanted pregnancies; who knows?)
Overall, a pretty great introduction to the Boss-verse, and at such a fabulous price (it's legally free) it shouldn't be missed.
(review of free book)