On the Hustle
by Adriana Herrera
Release Date: October 11, 2022
Publisher: Carina Trade
Book #2 in the Dating in Dallas series
Number of pages: 352
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Ages 16 and up
CW: racism, misogyny
Alba Duarte is the queen of the side hustle.
As the eldest daughter in her crisis-prone family, she’s always stepped up to help. Her favorite gig is doing Instagram-worthy, bookish-themed bedroom makeovers for friends. Her most hated? Working as the assistant to the most gorgeous—and most infuriating—man on earth.
Theo Ganas is a former Olympic swimmer and heir to a bona fide real estate empire. He’s also about as warm and fuzzy as a New York City winter, and quite frankly, Alba has had enough of his ridiculous demands and cold shoulder. When opportunity knocks, she decides to put herself first for once…which means leaving her demanding boss—and relatives—behind.
Her new life in Dallas seems like everything Alba’s ever wanted, until a bafflingly charming and attentive Theo turns up in the Lone Star State with an offer she simply cannot refuse. Agreeing to do a home improvement reality TV show with her sexy, and suddenly flirtatious, former boss is not a good idea, but it just might be the makeover her heart has been waiting for.
The first book in this series, Here to Stay, was my introduction to this author. Although I enjoyed that book, I’ve only had a chance to read one other since then. It was one of her historical romance books and I’m here to tell you, Adriana Herrera writes beautifully in both contemporary and historical. I need to get onto reading some of her back library because I always enjoy her writing.
Alba was endearing from the very beginning. While this story does show both Alba’s and Theo’s POV, it starts with Alba for the first few chapters. And boy did I wonder about Theo. He is set up to be a rich perfectionist who is standoffish with Alba. Yet it’s mentioned that most people love Theo and he’s a kind and considerate boss. So you know there has to be more to him than meets the eye when we meet him through Alba’s eyes. Truly, the man made me swoon when we pick up the story from his POV. Theo’s got it bad and has for years. He’s just very aware that he is Alba’s boss and never wants her to feel uncomfortable.
Theo does have some rich guy problems, but he’s not too bad. What I mean by that is Theo does sometimes think he can fix things with money. Yet he’s very aware of how strong and independent Alba is and takes the advice his stepmother and sister give him and he’s careful about buying his way to her heart. Theo is quickly shown to be what everyone (other than Alba) says he is, a thoughtful and caring person. He has issues with the feeling he has to live up to everyone’s expectations, which is the same but different from Alba’s issues of feeling she has to take care of everyone. The difference is that since Theo is rich and in charge of a very successful company that he’s assumed to be doing what he wants and is happy with his life’s course.
While Alba and Theo are both immigrants to a certain extent, Alba carries a lot of scars from when she first moved to America and nobody in her family spoke English. Alba, at a young age, went from being taken care of to being a caregiver in a way. Having to navigate the world for herself as well as for her parents. At the same time, Theo never felt he fully fit into his Greek roots or his Dominican roots, always feeling a bit of an outsider.
These two as a couple are fire. This is a slow burn, but so hot even before these two even kiss. There are different levels of a slow burn and this one doesn’t even seem like it’s a slow burn because the couple is so hot together no matter what they’re doing. Once the line is finally crossed, Theo and Alba prove to be raunchy in the best way possible.
Even though Alba is stubborn, I love that Theo always seems to understand why she’s so intense when it comes to her work and career. He grew up with money but understands she did not and never had the safety nets he has had in his life. Theo is very patient, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t make some major missteps. There is so much character growth for both Alba and Theo and it was so lovely to read.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**