Review: Managed by Kristen Callihan (VIP #2)


Note: This ARC was provided by the author via InkSlinger PR in exchange for an honest review.

"I wasn't prepared to need you this much. I don't know who I am anymore if you aren't with me."
He trembles again, hold himself so stiffly.
"I need you too," I whisper, stroking his shoulder. "So much it hurts. Take the hurt away, Gabriel."

Idol is one of the best books I've read this year, and with it being a series starter, the book that was to follow was going to have to go above and beyond to, at the very least, reach the same bar that was set. Well, Kristen Callihan certainly didn't disappoint with Managed, the second novel in her VIP series and the story of Gabriel Scott, Kill John's always in control manager. Killian James and Libby Bell's romance was one I so easily fell in love with, but Gabriel Scott and Sophie Darling's was foreplay at its best, taking slow burn to such an enticing level  that by the time they finally give in to their baser instincts, it almost doesn't feel enough because you want them to make up for all the time they spent toeing the line and yet you still feel oddly sated...for the time being. From Gabriel's deadpan humor and anxious cuff-tugging to Sophie's razor-sharp wit and comforting cuddles, these two balanced each other out in ways that had me smiling in both empathy (for whomever was on the verge of frustration) and wickedness (because it was clear these two wanted way more from each other) and there was no way I didn't fall.

At twenty-nine, Gabriel Scott has made a name for himself as the manager of the biggest band in the world. The boys of Kill John, along with his business partner Brenna James, were his family, the only family he's had since his mother passed away when he was fifteen and the boys rescued him from a bunch of school bullies. It's all about keeping the well-oiled machine that is the Kill John enterprise going. This is his world and he has no problem taking and holding on to the reins. It's what he's good at--keeping and staying in control. Unfortunately, flying from one location to another is a necessary evil, one he absolutely hates. When he realizes that there's another person sitting beside him instead of the usual empty seat that he requests, he isn't too thrilled. He doesn't need a witness to his anxieties. But the chatter box that is Sophie Darling has him distracted, enough that he can almost forget where he is. She dares to snuggle next to him on the turned down seats, and it feels rather...comforting. Then Gabriel realizes his chatty girl is his potential employee and distance should be maintained. Easier said than done.

Flying first class is a first for twenty-five-year-old Sophie Darling, and she revels in every bit of the experience, even if she is seated to the grumpy but gorgeous British hottie. Strangely enough, they form a bond of sorts when she soothes the tension brought about his fear of flying. However, when she gets the job of social media specialist for Kill John, requiring her to be in close contact with the band and their staff while posting on social media and taking photos, Sophie knows she'll be seeing more of the man who ends up being her new boss. The knowledge that she played an unwitting part in the most painful part of the band's history has some wary of her presence, but Sophie wants to prove just how capable she is and how she wants to move forward from that mess and become an asset for Kill John, Brenna, and Gabriel. They become comfortable with each other, but when Gabriel makes her an offer that would require her to be in his bed, Sophie is taken aback. Their attraction to one another is clearer than ever, and as much as she wants to be in his bed, it's not what she expected. But maybe, just maybe, this could be a start.

Okay, this book was so damn squee-worthy at so many points in the story that I lost count of how many times I had to control the smile on my face lest people around me think I was some sort of maniacal freak with an e-reader in my hands. I loved Gabriel and Sophie and how unconventional their romance was. These two and their relationship was such a study in contradictions. They were both effortless and took effort, but I wouldn't have them any other way. This book also earned bonus points because Sophie had a bit of Filipino in her and there was a mention of lumpia (yum!). With Gabriel's painful past tucked firmly behind his cool, calm, and collected fa├žade, it took someone as warm and accepting as Sophie to lure the darker, hidden parts of him out and into the open--into the sunshine. I'd be hard-pressed to come up something I didn't like about this book, because the truth is, I adored it and its cast of characters, just like I did its predecessor. The two books in the VIP series are my only Kristen Callihan reads, but they've ensured I'll be reading the rest of the VIP books AND her back list. Five-plus stars for Managed. ♥

Date Read: 17 November 2016

Learn more about Kristen Callihan.

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