I Want it That Way, by Ann Aguirre

I want it that way

Grade: A-

Doing it at: 51%

Catnip: Single Dads; Ginger Men; Neighbors; Emotional Unavailabilty; Not Backstreet Boys Fanfiction

Shame Scale: Light shame.

Fantasy Casting: Domhnall Gleeson, Adelaide Kane

Book Description:

“Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, dating’s the last thing on her mind. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…. 

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, the last thing he wants is noisy students living in the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other. 

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.”

Ann Aguirre has this whole series of books with titles that are Backstreet Boys songs: I Want It That Way, As Long As You Love Me, The Shape of My Heart. They are NOT in actuality, Backstreet Boys fanfic. They do NOT have anything to do with the Backstreet Boys at all. The author just thought it was cute to get all my hopes up I guess? I almost didn’t read this book because that news was so disappointing, but Cleone gave it an emphatic thumbs up and the library had it in.

The book opens with Nadia moving into an apartment above Ty. She splits the seam of her pants while trying to lift a sofa straight away, so I can already relate to her character. Anyways, he’s a hot ginger, she’s thinking Yum, but he’s fairly standoffish. He complains about the noise on their first night in the apartment, but then Nadia realizes there’s a kid down there, so she decides to be respectful and quiet. They clearly have an attraction, but neither is acting on it. One night, Nadia ends up in Ty’s apartment, and they end up cuddling on the couch. There’s a really sweet bit of Nadia stroking Ty’s red hair (confession, we Shame Girls have a ginger fetish):

Encouraged, I stroked in gentle little swoops, until he was practically purring. “You’re a ginger tabby,” I teased as he turned, so I could reach the other side. “Please,” he mumbled. “I’m totally a battle-scarred tom.”

Ty confesses that he’s attracted to her, but NOTHING can or will happen between them; she’s his neighbor, she works at his son’s daycare, and if it went bad, it could negatively affect his son.

“That’s why I can’t sleep with you. We’re friends. We have to be. Because you live in my building, because you’re smart, funny, and I like you, and you work at Rainbow Academy. If we hook up and it doesn’t work out, it’ll change how we are together, and that would hurt Sam.”

Predictably, because admitting you’re attracted to someone and then vowing to never hook up is not the best strategy, they hook-up. It’s steamy hot. As a responsible dad, Ty insists that in the future, they keep their hook-ups to the one weekend a month when his son stays with his parents, and they do. Hormones are kept in check, they text, and they continue their responsible lives. Nadia works hard at all her school work and her job, Ty keeps on single dadding…. From a real life mom’s perspective, I’m emphatically in agreement with this strategy. It’s all just wonderfully responsible.

But then, it also feels pretty extreme – they live directly above/below one another, and it seems to me that you could probably find some time for a little sneaky hallway snogging and such since his son probably goes to bed at 8pm. Just saying. Hormones n’at.

Ty is adamant that he does not want to become involved with a woman until his son is grown and raised. Because: Ty has Emotional Attachment Issues. His baby mama took off like a thief in the night, and now he’s convinced that any woman will eventually leave. He needed a character flaw, and this one was acceptable to me. Nadia also accepts it, even though it stings, because she’s a pretty nice girl with above average maturity.

Spoiler: They fall in love, drama ensues.

One of the great things about this book was that the secondary characters were fleshed out with their own story lines. I felt like I was reading about an actual set of roommates, not just one girl with roommates who flit around when needed and do things to move the central character’s plot along. The next book features Lauren, Nadia’s best friend, and Rob, Nadia’s Brother, so some of this was obviously setting us up for the next book, but it worked really well, without feeling like an advertisement.

And there’s definitely some of bananas and cream in this one, lest you think it sounds a bit too Book-like. It’s not erotica, but the romantic tension is fabulous, and they don’t rush it. Not romance novel fantasy sex with epic organs and endless O’s, but more like the kind of great-chemistry-perfect-fit-real-life sex that actual people have (which is hotter, right?). There was a great mention of shower sex, and how it challenges your dexterity.

Then we took a final bedtime shower and managed tricky shower sex. He’d been right not to start with it, because it took some doing, and once he almost fell over.

I’ve always marveled about romance novels because they’re always doing it in the shower. Shower sex rarely works out as well as you think it will in my vast experience, just saying. People are slipping around, the water makes for weird lubrication…. (Also, hot tubs.)

It was really hard to give this one a cheeky review because it was all very realistic, relatable, reasonable, and responsible. I adored it, but it’s not a funny book. It’s a well written story about two characters that seem entirely human, with an actual, conceivable plot. I give it an A-.

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