Between The Covers is a regular feature of Pop! Goes The Reader in which I review and feature novels in the adult romance genre.
Title New Orleans Rush
Author Kelly Siskind
Publication Date April 23rd 2019 by EverAfter Romance
Pages 285 Pages
Intended Target Audience Adult
Genre Contemporary Romance
Part of a Series? No
Source & Format Received an ARC from the author for review (Thanks, Kelly!), Paperback
Find It On Goodreads ● Amazon.com ● Chapters ● The Book Depository
Falling for your surly boss is a rotten idea.
Letting him saw you in half is even worse…
Beatrice Baker may be a struggling artist, but she believes all hardships have silver linings…until she follows her boyfriend to New Orleans and finds him with another woman. Instead of turning those lemons into lemonade, she drinks lemon drop martinis and keys the wrong man’s car.
Now she works for Huxley Marlow of the Marvelous Marlow Boys, getting shoved in boxes as an on-stage magician’s assistant. A cool job for some, but Bea’s been coerced into the role to cover her debt. She also maybe fantasizes about her boss’s adept hands and what else they can do.
She absolutely will not fall for him, or kiss him senseless. Until she does. The scarred, enigmatic Huxley has unwittingly become her muse, unlocking her artistic dry spell, but his vague nightly activities are highly suspect. The last time Beatrice trusted a man, her bank account got drained and she almost got arrested. Surely this can’t end that badly…right?
When Beatrice ‘Bea’ Baker is dumped by her boyfriend four days after moving to New Orleans so they can start a new life together, Bea is left with no home, no money, no boyfriend, and no idea what to do next. To make matters worse, Bea is also attempting to escape the attention of her father’s loan shark back in Chicago, who will stop at nothing to collect a debt of $10,000 her father, a gambling addict, owes him, even if it means cleaving a few of Bea’s fingers in the process. Frustrated, overwhelmed, and drunk on a curious mixture of cold medicine, alcohol and a certain Carrie Underwood song, Bea becomes determined to get revenge on her ex-boyfriend, ‘Nick the Prick’, by carving some choice words onto his car, a black 1976 Mustang Cobra. The only problem? In her intoxicated state, she mistakes a midnight blue 1977 Mustang Cobra for her boyfriend’s, a car which is actually owned by Huxley Marlow. Huxley, who performs in ‘The Marvellous Marlow Boys’ with his brothers, Fox and Axel, quickly realizes that Bea doesn’t have the money to pay for the damage she has caused, and instead tells her that she can work off her debt by performing as his assistant in his family’s magic show. What Bea and Huxley quickly learn, however, is that they create just as much magic together off the stage as they do on it.
Paradoxically, Bea and Huxley are both incredibly similar and remarkably different. Bea faces each day with a pair of rose-coloured glasses firmly in place, determined to see even the emptiest glass as half-full. In contrast, Huxley begins the novel as a man who could only be described as tired, tense, and even a little curmudgeonly, though Bea makes him long to be something more, both for her as well as for himself. Huxley is a man suffocating beneath the overwhelming weight of a seemingly endless series of expectations, responsibilities and commitments, as he struggles to support his brothers, Fox and Axel, financially and emotionally as well as honour his father’s legacy, having inherited both the theatre and magic show which once made his father a popular and beloved performance artist. Estranged from both his mother, who abandoned their family when Huxley was little, and from his youngest brothers, who have no interest in The Marvellous Marlow Boys, Huxley is intensely focused on taking care of everyone and everything in his life but himself. Despite her positive outlook, Bea also has familial issues, in that her mother is more of a friend than a parental figure or role model, and Bea’s father is a gambling addict who is unwilling or unable to seek help and who routinely exploits Bea’s empathy and love for him. Bea and Huxley are open and honest about these and other issues in their lives, and how they could potentially affect their burgeoning romantic relationship. Bea’s father’s gambling addiction is a particularly sensitive topic and a potential conflict for the couple, as poker games with his fellow magicians act as one of Huxley’s primary sources of income. (As a quick aside, these poker games with Huxley’s peers are delightful. Cheating and sleight of hand are actively encouraged during the games, as it further demonstrates the participating magicians’ level of skill, and it was a lot of fun to see how Huxley would one-up his opponents.)
In New Orleans Rush, Kelly Siskind places a great deal of emphasis on consent, an effort which does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Explicit and enthusiastic consent is not only incredibly important, but also incredibly sexy, and it was wonderful to watch as Huxley continually prioritized Bea’s comfort and well-being over his own desires. Whether it’s about performing a new and potentially dangerous act in the magic show or the progression of their romantic and sexual relationship, Huxley is always mindful of Bea’s feelings and is careful to make sure she feels comfortable and safe before progressing any further. Huxley also treats Bea as an equal in regard to the evolution of the The Marvellous Marlow Boys. While Bea delights in the magic tricks themselves, attendance for the show has been dwindling ever since Huxley’s father’s death, and Bea has a number of ideas as to how it might be modernized to attract a new crowd. Huxley is not too proud to accept help and is receptive to Bea’s input. This is a mature relationship between two adults who genuinely care for and respect one another and which leaves no doubt that Huxley and Bea are partners in every sense of the word.
Warm, optimistic, fun, funny, and thoroughly enchanting, reading New Orleans Rush is like receiving a hug from a dear friend and being told, very reassuringly, that everything is going to be all right. At a time when justice feels scarce and happy endings no longer seem like a foregone conclusion, Kelly Siskind’s latest release reminded me that a well-written romance novel is one of the best and easiest ways to restore a little love, laughter and joy into my life when it can otherwise feel like it’s in short supply. If you’re searching for a positive, feel-good story that has little angst and conflict and an abundance of charm, romance and quirks, New Orleans Rush by Kelly Siskind might be the perfect book for you; it certainly was for me.