One of my most anticipated romances this spring has been Business Not As Usual by Sharon C. Cooper. I hadn’t read her before, but this one’s cover and plot both drew me in. I was so happy when I was contacted for an ARC of it – this book went to the top of my to-read list and I loved every moment of it. Business Not As Usual is out today, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Special thanks to the publicists at Penguin Random House and to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Business Not As Usual is a sort of office romance, even if it quickly moves away from the professional setting. Dreamy Daniels works for the CEO of a startup tech company. They’re looking for investors, and this is how she meets Karter Redford, a venture capitalist (and the son of a popular actor and a famous socialite). Though Dreamy and Karter come from two completely different worlds, and although they maybe shouldn’t get into a relationship, they can’t deny their mutual interest in each other. Can they overcome their differences and insecurities in order to find love?
Let’s talk about these characters first. Dreamy Daniels is, in a word, dreamy. She has plans and goals – some more realistic than others – and she’s optimistic, kind, and full of positive energy. She dresses in bold colors and fun patterns (and has an impressive wig collection), and is generally self-assured. Although Dreamy works full-time, she is also attending night school to complete her Bachelor’s degree and is developing business plans so she can someday launch two different start-ups. But Dreamy also has a sensitive side: She’s been let down by her mom and her ex-boyfriend, and both have hurt her self-esteem. She’s sworn off guys… for now.
Karter Redford is the son of two celebrities, and though he probably doesn’t need to work, he runs a successful venture capitalist firm. In fact, he’s a workaholic, spending all of his time at the office and leaving little time for a personal life. It’s no wonder he’s had unsuccessful relationships up until now. He’s also mourning the recent death of his friend who had a heart attack at only 40. If Karter isn’t careful – and if he doesn’t slow down and work less – he worries he could be next.
Both Dreamy and Karter are generally likable characters, and I especially love how they bring out the best in each other. It’s true, they do have a lot of differences: Dreamy (28) is ten years younger than Karter; she’s poor and he’s rich; she’s vibrant and full of energy and he’s more low-key. Yet they also have a lot in common, from being ambitious and hard-working to being generous. They have mutual respect and an ease between them, even with their disparate backgrounds.
One thing that stands out in Business Not As Usual is the narrative around money and class. I can’t speak for Karter and his wealth, but I can identify with Dreamy. I know what it’s like to live paycheck-to-paycheck and not be able to fix the issues in your home and car. Further, it can be hard to accept generosity from someone without feeling like a leech or a burden. Dreamy has numerous financial woes, but she hates it when Karter volunteers to help her out. She doesn’t want to be needy or have to depend on him. She wants to give, not just receive. Dreamy slowly learns to accept some of Karter’s help, but she’s still determined to make her own way. Though it sometimes feels frustrating here, I do admire her resolve.
Money isn’t all of it, though. Dreamy’s been told that she’s not sophisticated or educated enough, and that message is mirrored by Karter’s mom. This highlights classism and the unfair disdain poorer people often face. Never mind that Dreamy works hard and has big goals; for some, that’s not enough. But others see her worth, regardless of her background or net worth. (Karter does! Aww!)
Further, I enjoy the family dynamics portrayed in Business Not As Usual. Dreamy’s relationship with her own mother is unsteady, too. I appreciate the lesson about not letting others get you down. Sure, their words can string, but ultimately, we must trust ourselves and find our own self-worth. Similarly, it’s important to recognize which broken relationships are worth mending, which may take time, and which aren’t worth it at all. The fraught relationships here are dealt with realistically.
For his part, Karter’s character arc (beyond the cute romance) is learning to overcome his workaholism. Dreamy helps him do this, unconsciously at first, but eventually, she exerts her influence to slow him down. He really needs to delegate more!
Ultimately, I loved seeing how Dreamy and Karter lift up one another. They can both learn from each other and treat themselves better.
One final thing I’ll just mention here – in the interest of avoiding spoilers – is the one element of Business Not As Usual that was a bit more silly. Dreamy is 100% sure she will win the lottery, and soon. I understand the hope the Lotto can provide people, but the way things went here didn’t seem that necessary to me. I would have liked a slightly different course, but I can also see why the author chose this outcome. Sorry this is vague, but once you’ve read it, you’ll know!
Business Not As Usual is a sweet and quirky novel with some important discussion around money, class, workaholism, and self-esteem. Dreamy and Karter are both lovely characters, and they make for a fun and quick read. This was only my first novel by Sharon C. Cooper, but I would love to read more from her.
Get the Book
You can buy Business Not As Usual here – it’s available as a paperback, ebook, or audiobook.
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|Business Not As Usual by Sharon C. Cooper|
|Setting||Los Angeles, California, USA|
|Number of Pages||320|
|Format I Read||eBook (NetGalley)|
|Original Publication Date||April 5, 2022|
A woman learns the hard way about mixing business with pleasure in this hilarious new romantic comedy by USA Today bestselling author Sharon C. Cooper.
I am beautiful. I am confident. I am lovable. I am a lottery winner.
This is the mantra that will get Dreamy Daniels through each day until she makes it big. So what if she lives in a seedy part of Los Angeles in a house that’s one earthquake away from crumbling, or works an unfulfilling secretarial job while struggling to finish her bachelor’s degree? All Dreamy needs to do is win the lottery, which she’s been entering in as a weekly tradition with her grandfather. When she catches the attention of her boss’s potential investor, Dreamy has to remind herself to focus on her career goals so she can be her own boss. Who cares if he has the social grace of the Duke of Sussex and the suaveness of Idris Elba? No distractions allowed.
Growing up with a father who is an A-list actor and a socialite mother, venture capitalist Karter Redford lives in the world of the rich and famous. Instead of attending movie premieres, however, he prefers spending his time helping the less fortunate, backing start-up companies and investing in cutting edge ideas. Karter is used to his life revolving around work, but when he decides he wants someone to share it with, he falls for someone his mother would never approve of: hilarious, quirky Dreamy, who has goals of her own…but also isn’t a wealthy, upper-crust socialite. Though it’s clear they’re from different worlds, their relationship might just be his greatest investment yet.
About the Author
Award-winning and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty books, Sharon C. Cooper loves anything that involves romance with a happily-ever-after, whether in books, movies, or real life. Sharon writes contemporary romance, as well as romantic suspense and enjoys rainy days, carpet picnics, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She’s been nominated for numerous awards and is the recipient of Romance Slam Jam Emma Awards for Author of the Year 2019, Favorite Hero 2019 (INDEBTED), Romantic Suspense of the Year 2015 (TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES), Interracial Romance of the Year 2015 (ALL YOU’LL EVER NEED), and BRAB (Building Relationships Around Books) Award -Breakout Author of the Year 2014. When Sharon isn’t writing, she’s hanging out with her amazing husband, doing volunteer work or reading a good book (a romance of course). To read more about Sharon and her novels, visit www.sharoncooper.net