Professor Stephen Worthington has been schooled in the bedroom by free-spirited student Julia Wilde. But what started as a casual arrangement has turned into so much more—at least for Stephen.
Head over heels, Stephen is tired of being just “sex buddies.” Julia’s resisting, but her blithe attitude towards keeping it casual may just be a front. Can he prove to her that their amazing sexual chemistry can mix with romance and ultimately win her heart?
In this eagerly awaited sequel to S.J. Hooks’ successful first novel, Absolute Beginners, readers will find themselves riding alongside Stephen and Julia’s highs and lows as their friends-with-benefits relationship reaches a crossroads. Absolute Lovers’ humor and romance will tease and delight both dedicated fans and new readers alike.
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
**ABSOLUTELY SPOILERISH FOR BOOK #1, ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS**
Absolute Lovers opens right where book one, Absolute Beginners left off, with Julia reeling from the death of her beloved grandfather (and only remaining family) and Stephen sure he has fallen head over heels in love with the once bothersome Ms. Wilde.
The moment Julia chose to go to Stephen for comfort rather than her friends, their relationship changed even if Julia is loath to admit it. For a very long time, Julia has relied on herself and no one else. Her only real relationship experience has been casual arrangements and the thought of something deeper, more significant scares the hell out of her. Stephen has never had a “real” relationship and never thought a woman like Julia would turn out to be so perfect for him but he is willing to risk everything for the woman he loves. All he has to do is convince the extremely skittish Julia of his sincerity and willingness to try something more. First step, ask her if he can be her for realsies boyfriend 🙂
As a real couple, Julia and Stephen have some serious issues to work out, not the least of which is her status as his student. Up next, coming out to their friends and Stephen’s family. Julia is significantly younger than Stephen and though most are shocked at their relationship status, once they see the couple together they understand the connection. Make no mistake, it isn’t all smooth sailing and good sex and as the relationship continues to evolve, the couple has to navigate waters neither are familiar with. There are exes to contend with, each other’s respective past, new situations like living together to face, and their future as a couple. With each new challenge, there is heightened emotion, some serious laughs, and some excellent (and sometimes funny!) sex. Just when things seem to be going quite well, Julia is offered a tremendous opportunity that will separate the couple for a minimum of two years.
The Bottom Line: What an excellent follow-up to the first book in the Absolute series. Julia and Stephen are a couple worth rooting for and I was on their side from the very beginning. Julia may be young but she has a high level of maturity that she employs most of the time. Sexually, she is still very much the lead in the relationship but Stephen is far better able to hold his own this time around. Stephen is just adorable and his continued naiveté is once again quite refreshing. In the emotional arena, Stephen is leaps and bounds ahead of Julia but it is strength and confidence in his feelings that helps the couple stay strong. In truth, both Stephen and Julia have strengths and weaknesses that truly compliment the other. There is significantly more emotion in this read and some moments when your heart will just break for the couple but rest assured, in the end, they get their HEA and it is so well-deserved. Hooks has put together two incredibly solid reads with engaging, intelligent, and witty characters, really good (and sometimes funny!) naughty bits, real life emotions and situations, and drama that isn’t exactly what you expect it to be. Two books is just the perfect length for Stephen and Julia and I think this may be one of my favorite reads of the year.
P.S. This read has a truly excellent epilogue. It’s dirty, sweet, and exactly what an epilogue should be, a view into the future 🙂