ARC Review: The Cutie and the Beast by M.E. Carter

Posted April 29, 2020 by Kate

ARC Review: The Cutie and the Beast by M.E. CarterCheck out on Goodreads | Buy on Amazon
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Series: Cipher Office #3
Publisher: SmartyPants Romance
Source: Social Butterfly PR, Kindle Unlimited

Living with her mother seemed like a good idea at the time. But Elliott Donovan’s living arrangements are not working for her anymore. Desperate to get back on her financial feet after a divorce and out from under her mother’s thumb, Elliott takes a job in the child care center at Weight Expectations, a local gym.
It has everything she needs – family-friendly hours, more pay than she expected, and a super cute trainer who just happens to have part of his house for rent.
Abel DiSoto was living a good life until his wife walked out taking half of the family income with her. The blow to his ego was bad enough, but after a fire at the gym scattered Abel’s clients, and consequently his commissions, he’s stuck figuring out how to make ends meet, too. Renting out the master suite of his house to his new co-worker seems like an easy solution. They’re both mature adults, they both have eight-year-old daughters, and their work schedules coordinate so they can lend each other a helping hand to ease the burden of single parenthood.
The only downside? Living like a blended family when you’re not actually a family can present some challenges.
Welcome back to Weight Expectations, where the unexpected is likely to happen.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, but it doesn’t influence my opinion of the book nor the contents of this review in any way. 

This book delivered exactly on the promise that it made: it was cute, it was fresh, fun and took me on a genuine ride. I’ve never read an M.E. Carter book before this moment, but now I’m writing her down as an author to keep an eye out for. I genuinely enjoyed her storytelling so much. To be quite frank, I wasn’t expecting much from this one, despite what it promised, because I’ve learned to keep my expectations low for seemingly fluffy ARCs. But I have to say… that wasn’t the case with this one, and I’m rather ashamed that I felt badly of it to begin with.

Cutie and the Beast follows Elliott, a single mom, as she finally lands a job as the manager of the childcare department of the gym “Weight Expectations.” Her daughter is eight, and they’ve been living with her mom for the last three years as she tries to pick up the shambles of her life after her dickhead husband did her dirty. Now that she has a job, she hankering to move out and find a place of her own. As luck would have it, coworker, gym trainer, and single dad divorcé Abel is looking for a housemate to help manage the bills so he can keep him and his daughter in his house after his wife left to fulfill her modeling dreams. With both single parents having eight-year-old daughters that go to the same school, the situation seems too good to pass up, and Elliott moves in

“When they moved in, I didn’t anticipate they would become this part of my life that just fit, but that’s exactly what happened. They slid into this empty spot I didn’t know was there.“

I adored Elliott and Abel’s connection. They became best friends and their friendship was so clear and obvious to me because really they fell in love first, dated second and I love stories like that. They were each (separately and as one unit) raising an eight-year-old daughter, and while the two could be quite different, they were a host of fun and reading about the girls running rampant through Elliott and Abel’s lives was awesome. I also loved the commentary on parenting that the book offered, and especially Elliott’s thoughts about her parents’ style versus her own… that hit a bit on the nose for me.

I related to her so much and loved Elliott’s character: kind, considerate, patient, witty, and insightful, but also has boundaries that she expects her kid to live with (a parenting style I happen to agree with). Abel, too, was a delight: charming and laidback, bright, happy, and loving. He could be a bit too relaxed at times, just as Elliott could be a bit of an over-thinker. I loved that they both believed in a house of laughter and smiles… despite their particular situation making that a bit difficult (i.e., one of the daughters was a bit resentful over the interloper – one of the adults – in her life, and that fact that that person wasn’t actually her parent). There were a few blips for me – I would have loved to see a bit more of their friendship and falling-in-love bits, there were a few knots that I thought needed tightening up for me at the end, and while them as friends and even loving each other was amazing, the passion could have used a bit of work. But the commentary on forming a family and seeing the visceral, realistic ways that it played out in this book made up for that. 

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What are some of your favorite tropes to read about? Are you a fan of the friends-to-lovers, or do you prefer the enemies-to-lovers trope, instead? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

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