Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

One Word Review: F.I.L.F.

Mood: Easy drama. Like Watching Bravo after a long day.

Spice level: 2/5

I'm not a slow reader I'm a lazy reader. I usually don't want to think too much about what I'm reading. I want to open a book and be pulled in. I go in with an open mind but what I really want is for the author to make me obsessed with the story from the get go. Penelope Douglas is fantastic at this. She writes for lazy readers. She could write the phone book and I'd be hanging on every word. I finished Birthday Girl in 5 days and for me that's a speed read. I was eating with one hand and reading with the other.

Birthday Girl is a spicy romance novel that flirts with taboo. The taboo here is an age gap romance between an older man and his son's girlfriend. It's also a slow burn which is fun but also frustrating at times. That's probably the point of slow burn but as I said, I'm lazy, and I want all the fun right now.

Jordan, the female protagonist, and her boyfriend move in with dad, Pike, and the story unfolds from there. What might sound like a predictable setup actually has twists and turns I didn't anticipate. The interest blooms organically, somehow the boyfriend isn't turned into a villain, and there's a very satisfying ending. The spice scenes happen about half way in which feels like a long time.

I liked the book but it also left me wanting. In my opinion there were definitely some missed opportunities for some extra spice with how well these characters and the situation was set up. It was still hot though. The solo bedroom scene was my favorite.

I feel like Penelope Douglas is good at giving us the drama we want and female characters that aren't one-note and who are well developed. Jordan is hardworking, wise beyond her years, but still young and learning.

Pike is maybe written a bit older seeming than his actual age. He's supposedly like 34? But to me he's more like a 40ish year old, kind of boring, good-ole-dude. He's got a truck, nice arms, drinks beer, never really leaves his (big) house. He works in construction, has a teenage son and baby-mama-drama. He's got total dad vibes. He's a bit possessive of Jordan and their relationship definitely wittingly or unwittingly delves into daddy-issues territory but remains hot too. Pike isn't my cup of tea as a male spice lead but I 100% see the appeal and think if you're into men like him then this book boyfriend will scratch the itch. Like, picture a hardworking truck guy, ball cap wearing, shirtless, building shit kinda guy. If that does it for you then you'll love Pike.

Also this is a happily ever after situation. I read this in the dead of winter but it still gives me strong beach-read vibes. If you're looking for a hot, mildly taboo, quick and satisfying read- this is the one.