Melissa Brayden has created another truly amazing romance novel with her newest creation, Exclusive. This story has all of the elements I look for when I’m searching for a great romance, including some of my favorite tropes.
This book takes place in gorgeous, sun-filled setting of San Diego, California. Skyler Ruiz has a huge break in her journalistic career when she is hired to be a roving reporter by the local station in San Diego for the 5:00 and 10:00 PM news programs. Not only is this a big jump in her career, the news anchor she will be working with is Caroline (Carrie) McNamara, a woman she has been looking up to and secretly crushing on for years. Unfortunately, what you see on television may not always be what or who you see in real life.
This is a great age gap, enemies-to-lovers romance. This author is very good at creating memorable and loveable characters in all of her books. Skyler is one of those people you just want to have as a best friend. She is beautiful, intelligent, upbeat, and driven to be the best she can be at her job. Caroline is older than Skyler, and therefore further along in her career, but just as memorable. A lot of the conflict comes from the higher ups in the network pitting the two against each other, but even with all that, the chemistry between the two characters is off the charts. The book is written in first person point of view so we only see things through Skyler’s eyes. This means we have to use what Skyler sees in Carrie’s actions, facial expressions, and speech to understand what she is thinking and feeling. The author did a good job with this.
One of the things I love about Ms. Brayden’s novels, she often puts little Easter Eggs from her other books into the tale, creating her own little universe for her different stories. For this tale, she has set the story in the same world as her former book, Heart Block. For those of you who have read that tale, Emory, Sarah, and her daughter Grace are all fairly important secondary characters here. In fact Sarah and Skyler are cousins. I totally enjoyed seeing these folks again.
This book takes you on a romantic journey with lots of ups and downs in the overall story. The author even made me cry, but don’t worry, there is always a happy ending, and I loved this one. I recommend it to all contemporary romance lovers.
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for an honest review.