Note: This ARC was provided by the author via Signal Boost Promotions in exchange for an honest review.
What Matters is the first book by Gracie Leigh, which just happens to be the pseudonym of Garrett Leigh, one of my favorite M/M authors. This book is M/F and I'm honestly not sure if it's meant to be a standalone or a series starter, especially since there were a couple of supporting characters--the main characters's respective best friends--who were prominently featured and who I wouldn't mind reading more about in future releases. The title gave me pause because it's close to a Garrett Leigh one, What Remains, which is one of my favorite reads from the author, but the only similarity the two books share is the first one word in their titles. Why I even wondered is beyond me, but hey, I'm a tad paranoid, so yeah. This is an enemies-to-lovers, rags-to-riches new adult romance about a girl named Eddie and a guy named Sam (whose last name Nowak in the book but was Novak in the blurb).
Twenty-two-year-old music student Edwina "Eddie" Dean is at an absolute loss when her father informs her that she's going to have to find a job in order to pay for her tuition, her rent, and anything and everything else she may need to survive every single day now that he's declared bankruptcy. Her best friend and roommate is helping by finding grants for Eddie, but Eddie's boyfriend doesn't seem to comprehend--nor care--about her predicament. When she's offered a cup of coffee at a little diner, she decides to see if the owner will offer her a job as well. Bussing tables, making sure orders are delivered, and helping with the prepping before the diner opens is nothing that Eddie's used to, which is exactly why Sam Nowak, doesn't think she's cut out for the work required in his cafe.
Eddie was a girl who never really thought much about how much the life she was leading cost until she started having to pay for it on her own. This was really her journey to becoming independent and self-sufficient, and it was a very bumpy road, with her laying a lot of the blame on anyone other than herself when things got rough, i.e. her parents--her father for not informing her right away and her mother for only thinking about herself. She also didn't really think too highly of her boyfriend--who isn't really her boyfriend but she does go out with him, sleep with him, makes a point of heading his way when he invites her out. She also chooses to see the not-so-great stuff in Sam, who is far from perfect, but it takes a good, long while for Eddie to actually take responsibility for her faults.
The story in general was one that I enjoyed reading, and even though Eddie and Sam were frustrating at times, they were actually more or less likable. I did have a bit of an issue with regards to the decision of not using a condom the first time these two have sex, especially because Eddie had recently ended a relationship wherein she was sexually active. Furthermore, the threesome seemed abrupt. Eddie barely spent any time being attracted to Dylan--Sam's sexually fluid best friend--and then she decides to have sex with both guys the same night she finds out they've had threesomes with other girls. The supposed attraction Eddie was feeling towards Dylan felt forced, and while their one and only encounter together with Sam was hot, I couldn't help but feel awkward. Weird, right?
For her first published M/F romance, I think the author did pretty well. There were stilted moments, and I had a love-hate thing going on with the main characters, Eddie especially since the girl tended to overreact and made everything about her, but I did finish the book in one sitting, which is saying something. I'm hoping that Leigh will delve into the genre more and I wouldn't say "no" to reading more, especially if she decides to write Dylan's story next or sometime in the future. While this first foray into the M/F romance genre was far from perfect, I commend the author for taking a chance, because yes, there was some risk to trying something different, what with the niche she already has in M/M romance. All things considered, What Matters was entertaining, this gets four of five stars. ♥
Release Date: 02 May 2017
Date Read: 02 May 2017
Learn more about Gracie Leigh.
Purchase What Matters on Amazon.