The Dating Policy
by Suzanne Eglington

"I couldn’t get past the kiss as that employee handbook taunted me on my coffee table."

Mallory Kennedy’s company has a strict "no dating" policy that threatens to derail her first real chance at love with Todd Duvall, a quality control manager in her office who sends her heart racing every time he walks by her. She admires his confidence, his Scandinavian features, and his work ethic. When Todd begins to show interest in her, too, her work life and romantic life become entangled. Adding to the fray, Mallory also finds that Todd has deeper secrets that threaten their future even more than the company’s policy on dating.

This modern take on the classic forbidden love story will keep readers enthralled until the end. The chemistry between Mallory and Todd sparkles with intensity, and Eglington builds their relationship slowly, teasing their connection with each encounter at the office, at the gym, and finally in the bedroom. This slow burn gets doused at times with mundane details about traffic, shopping lists, and workouts. While the first-person narration effectively develops Mallory’s sensory experiences, especially with Todd, at times the story almost feels like a report on Mallory’s day-to-day life. The book revs up about halfway through, though, not only because they consummate their relationship in steamy bedroom scenes but also because more complications arise that keep the ending uncertain.

When Mallory’s fantasies finally come to life in the flesh, Todd doesn’t disappoint with his passion and raw desire. Todd comes with more perks than sexual satisfaction alone. He helps Mallory secure a higher-paying position in the company, and he spends lavishly on Mallory as they fall deeper in love. But questions from friends swirl and warnings from co-workers abound regarding his intentions, which keeps the tension taut for the reader. Todd’s complicated personal life includes an unhinged wife he is bizarrely contracted to, an unclear history of sexual harassment, and secret business dealings that could impact Mallory’s career. These storylines converge in a satisfying finale that showcases Eglington’s talents as a storyteller.

Eglington is also up to the task of creating believable characters. Mallory is a strong character and savvy businesswoman with a clear viewpoint and intelligence; she is not a passive bystander in her life waiting breathlessly for a hero. She is appealing and relatable as she navigates business and pleasure with an equal mix of ambition and desire. Todd is more realistic and attainable than Christian Gray or Gideon Cross but no less interesting and more than desirable enough to inspire a literary crush for readers. The hot-button issue of sexual harassment in the workplace is handled lightly but hovers at the edges of the story as Todd’s intentions and behavior are mysterious for much of the book. Ultimately, Eglington is telling a story to entertain, entice, and awaken fantasy, not to politicize. After all, sometimes, people fall in love at work, and the sexual tension doesn’t have to be manipulative. It can be romantic, steamy, and page-turning. This contemporary romance ticks all the boxes with a swoon-worthy lover, complications in the conquest, and a fairy tale ending.

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