Audiobook Review ✭ Strictly Off Limits by Jessica Hawkins

Title: Strictly Off Limits
Author: Jessica Hawkins
Publication date: July 7, 2015
Genres: Romance, Erotica, Fiction, Novella
Format: Audiobook via Audible
Length: 2 hrs 16 mins 
Alexandra James gave up her spring break for an offer she couldn’t refuse—a week-long job that would earn her enough money to buy her way out of a broken heart. But if she thought her new boss would let her off easy because he’s her father’s best friend, she couldn’t have been more wrong. 

Dean Brittany demands perfection from his employees, but none more so than his new temp, since correcting her mistakes seems to fuel his unexpected attraction to her. Unfortunately for him, eighteen-year-old Alexandra is strictly off limits. 

Strictly Off Limits is a forbidden romance novella originally published in the Forbidden Fruit Anthology, Volume 1 (no longer available). It's a quick read at 21,000 words.

Let’s get the basics out of the way so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
  • This is a novella
  • There’s a forbidden romance/office romance [boss/employee]
  • It’s between an 18 year-old girl and 48 year-old man (her father’s best friend)
  • Told from heroine’s point of view
Alexandra James isn’t getting a typical college Spring Break. Instead she’s going to work during her time off so that she can buy the perfect dress to win back her ex. Enter Dean Brittany, friend of Alex’s father, who hires her temporarily as his fill-in secretary. Things in the office begin as normal as ever, but the atmosphere quickly turns into something intensely provocative.

With a story such as this—an older man and younger girl—there’s always a worry that the creep factor will take precedent to the heart of the story. And with the exception of one scene that made me a bit uncomfortable, I felt like their relationship was focused on and executed well. 

The age difference was different for me. I’ve never read a story with an age gap quite this wide, so it took me a bit to fully acclimate. The only time I cringed was during a dinner scene with her parents in which things between Dean and Alex got a bit too steamy for the table.

Alex is eighteen so she’s obviously going to have some naivety to her but she was still a fun refreshing character. Her interactions with Dean showed the curiosity and lustful intrigue that comes with Dean’s sexual come ons. That vulnerability and young mindset she owned at the beginning slowly transformed into a more mature stance by the end of the novella.

A few grammar issues here and there, but not too bothersome. The steamy scenes will no doubt keep you interested and the building relationship will be enough to keep you in the story. 
I listened to the audio version of the book and was happy with the narrator. The execution from Melissa Barr was fantastic, and she really nailed all the voices perfectly. Sometimes the female narration is laughable when they narrate the male dialogue, but Barr made each male voice distinguishable.

There’s no cliffhanger with this story—everything is cleared up and finalized—but I certainly had an urge to know more about Alex and Dean’s next step together. Oh the possibilities!

Let me emphasize that if you choose to read this, you’re going to read a short-length book, so by no means should you expect an in-depth story with explanation and backstory.

It is what it is. And what it is, is a pretty hot, quick read!

Jessica Hawkins grew up between the purple mountains and under the endless sun of Palm Springs, California. She studied international business at Arizona State University and has also lived in Costa Rica and New York City. To her, the most intriguing fiction is forbidden, and that’s what you’ll find in her stories. Currently, she resides wherever her head lands, which is often the unexpected (but warm) keyboard of her trusty MacBook.

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