Book Title: Thick As Thieves
Author: Julie Olivia
Release Date: September 17th, 2020
Synopsis: Francesca moved to New York to escape London and the mess of her life there. She’s sworn off men and she’s focused on her cat, settling into New York and her job as an ethical hacker. Except, Owen didn’t get the memo about the changes she’s making in her life. And just by existing, he’s totally thrown Fran’s life into chaos. But she’s not complaining, she just wishes she had more control over how these things worked out.
Review: Let me start by saying that THIS BOOK WAS EVERYTHING AND I CAN’T STOP SMILING WHEN I THINK ABOUT IT. Julie Olivia is a new-to-me author and I’m so grateful that she got in touch to ask if I’d like to read her upcoming romantic comedy, because this book made my life. My day, my night and just in general, it made me smile so much. Francesca and Owen are such an incredible pairing and all the reasons why they shouldn’t work are exactly why they do.
I love me a slow burn romance, especially when the sexual tension between the characters is off the charts. I was constantly giggling at Fran’s inner monologue and quite honestly, all of the things that go through her head have gone through my head a few times too. But let’s break it down shall we, and dig into what makes this one of my favourite reads this year.
“If romantic comedies have taught me anything, it’s that a good meet cute is the start of a wonderful relationship, and this meet is quite cute, if I do say so myself. But, no, I’m not here to have cute meetings or meet cute people or whatever, unless they’re people I can sit on. Wait—scratch that last part. Imagining sitting on Owen is going to lead down the wrong path…the path to romance and heartbreak. No thank you.”
Francesa Evans wants a fresh start, and what better place to have that than the city that never sleeps? She’s running away from her problems and New York provides the perfect space to hide out. Fran is a penetration tester (pentester) or an ethical hacker, if you will. She works for companies ensuring their virtual security is good by trying to hack into it and ensure that it’s safe from outside sources. Fran is good at her job and being that it’s remote, it doesn’t matter where she lives.
Elijah Owen (Owen, please and thanks) is also a pentester. He runs a company with two of his friends and after giving up his hacking life, he’s taking it more legit. Owen is a nerd, but a hot one. Those exist, my friends, and Owen is the epitome of what that looks like. He’s got messy hair, thick rimmed glasses, a jaw that can cut glass and a smile that sets Fran on fire. But he’s also a damn good hacker. He’s built his own company and he’s working hard to stay clean and live a good life. Owen is also made up of all the things that Fran is trying to avoid in her life.
“Owen is hot. Very, very hot. And funny. And I’m in here looking like a washed-up Gwen Stacy, lack of Spider-Man seduction powers and all.”
Fran and Owen meet totally by accident in a furniture shop – Fran has an accident with a scented candle and a recliner – and they…sort of hit it off. Owen’s flirting and Fran doesn’t particularly care for it. But they’re both stuck in each other’s minds – especially since there was some carrying of her new chair involved with coffee – and despite the distance between them, they want more. Of course Owen has the one friend who is a meddling cutie that brings Fran and Owen back together at a Hacker’s Anonymous meeting.
Their chemistry was off the charts! And having dual points of view really help you see just how much they want each other. Fran and Owen are also hilarious characters, with so much sass and heart that you will find yourself laughing a whole lot more than you probably expected to. Fran is an incredible character and Julie wrote her with so much heart. Her relationship with her cousin back home, even her relationship with Emma (Owen’s meddling friend) and most of all her connection to Owen – it was all just so brilliant. But let’s be honest, Owen stole the show for me. He’s so endearing and every time you get to crawl into his head, you wish that you could live there forever. The way he sees Fran is truly one of my favourite things in the world.
“Fran asked if strong women intimidate me, but god if she only knew how much they wind me up. Every clever response and quick jab at the ego is enough to send me reeling. I don’t want a woman who laughs at my jokes without restraint. I want a woman whose laugh is earned. I want the woman I have to work to get.”
It’s also very very steamy. I’m a sucker for good sex scenes in my romances, because it always feels like a moment when you learn more about the characters in the stories. Owen and Fran take all that chemistry and set the pages on fire once they cross that line. You see such different sides of them when they’re together and that’s another thing that sex scenes bring to life.
What I did not see coming was the big twist! Given that they’re both hackers, you know that there’s going to be some virtual drama that will upset the balance of the book. I love the twist and how it all fell together and then apart and then back together. Conflict is an important part of these stories, but it’s not always so well thought out. Julie really took that and ran with it and I was left teary for a while. I promise you, it’s worth waiting for.
This book was a glorious surprise! It was hilarious, heartwarming, it was smart and sexy, and it was filled with a whole bunch of incredible characters too. I loved everything about each character, because they all had something different to offer to build up the story even further. I’d love more of Owen and Fran, please and thanks. Because I’m not done with them and their wildly hilarious lives.
Thanks to Julie Olivia for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!