There’s a special joy when your friends write and publish their first book. Last year when Aviva published Stacked and its sequel Say My Name I scooped them up and then in typical me form saved them for when I needed a boost. I should have read this one sooner, if only to join the chorus of positive reviews, but either way I’m glad to have read it now because it was just what I was looking for.
(As a note, I’m thanked in the Acknowledgements of Say My Name as I was an early reader of chapters while these works were in draft form, it has not affected my review.)
Stacked is the story of Imogene Saunders, a passionate librarian dedicated to making the small town library she’s now in charge of accessible to everyone. Whether her coworker likes it or not, and she’s decidedly against Imogene. Our meet cute takes place in sticky book bin situation, which is delightful, and Imogene’s rescuer is a very sexy biker. Imogene and Mags, her sexy biker, run into each other a few times, both when he brings his niece to the library and when he runs into Imogene at the bar, and he falls for her almost despite himself. Imogene for her part wasn’t expecting to grow closer to her leather-clad knight while fighting to turn her library renovation dream into reality.
Imogene is a fucking delight. She’s unabashedly herself, and Aviva layers in the kind of details that make her feel real, but don’t push too far into caricature. We’re also given details of some of Mags angst, specifically relating to his sister and niece, and Imogene gets him to think more critically about his opinions and assumptions, but are left with questions about his role in the MC. Which, for me, was perfectly fine.
Aviva published two books in this series last year, and this year announced she would not be continuing with it, the way the MC made its money had painted her into a corner – there was no way to authentically write badass feminist characters falling for these men in future works, and it was proving difficult to justify redemption arcs or HEAs. I deeply respect her choice to walk away from this, acknowledge the errors that made that the best decision (her latest book Hot Rabbi is already out and I am VERY excited about it). All that said, you can read this book without the black cloud of what the MC is up to ruining it, its enough on the periphery of this book, and I suggest you do.
Bingo Square: Debut