I read my first Penelope Douglas book over the past few days and it did not disappoint. Admittedly, I was a little bit hesitant at first to read Birthday Girl because I wasn’t sure if I’d like the tropes – age gap and boyfriend’s dad. And you might be thinking the same thing, but trust me the story is so good that you’ll forget about the taboo tropes.
The novel is a dual POV and follows Jordan and Pike. Jordan and Pike meet on her birthday when she walks over to the movie theater for a midnight showing of an 80s movie (her favorite era) after work because her boyfriend, Cole, forgot to pick her up. She hopes that by the time she’s out of the movies he’ll be there. Pike is also at the movie alone and they meet when she drops her phone and is crawling around the dark theater looking for it. They hit it off and just feel very comfortable around each other. After the movie, she gets a call from Cole but no one’s on the line. Then, Pike’s phone rings and they realize their connection. Cole is calling from jail after getting arrested for a fight breaking out at a party at his and Jordan’s apartment. Pike is Cole’s dad and has to bail him out and Jordan and Cole get kicked out of their apartment.
Pike had Cole as a teenager so he’s in his late 30s (just so you know we’re not talking about like a 50 year old and 20 year old). Jordan and Cole move into Pike’s house and live rent free as long as they pitch in and help out around the house. It’s a little awkward at first because Pike and Jordan did have a connection when they met, but they are really respectful and act properly. The problem is Cole is hardly around because he doesn’t have the best relationship with his dad in recent years and so he’s not doing anything to help out. Jordan doesn’t want to feel like they’re taking advantage of Pike’s kindness so she does her part plus Cole’s responsibilities. Jordan and Cole already have their issues so to now add all of this onto their relationship is a huge stressor.
We watch as Jordan and Pike become real friends and Pike becomes someone Jordan can trust, which isn’t easy for her because she has been burned a lot in the past with a difficult childhood. I loved the slow burn relationship of Jordan and Pike. While the spicy scenes are deliciously spicy, it’s not the entire book – the story is actually really good. This isn’t just another smut book with hardly any plot. In fact, the two don’t do anything physical with each other until just after the 50% mark in the book. What I love is that they slowly fall in love with each other and it’s actually really beautiful how emotionally attached they are to each other and their physical attraction to each other is an added bonus. There’s also no physical cheating in the book (on the parts of Jordan and Pike at least) so it’s not like a boyfriend’s dad book where she’s cheating on her boyfriend with his dad or something like that. I think what also just works for Jordan and Pike is that she’s much more mature than her 19 years as she’s basically been on her own and raising herself since she was a kid. And Cole was a teenage father so while there is an age gap it’s not like he’s some dirty old man.
Anyway, I loved the book. I’ve heard that Penelope Douglas’ books are hit or miss but I really liked this one so I’m interested to read some other things by her and see how they compare!
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