Bet Against Me by Fiona RileyBet Against Me by Fiona Riley is an enemies to lovers, workplace romance – my favorite tropes. It’s about learning to let down your guard and allow people to see what’s beneath the personas that keep you safe, but alone.

Trina Lee would go to just about any length to secure a sale in the world of luxury property. She knows how to close a deal and she’s had an exceptional year. The cherry on top will be winning the coveted Realtor of the Year award for the Boston area. When the award goes to a woman new to the area, Trina’s shocked, furious, out for blood, and a little turned on.

Kendall Yates is surprised when she wins the year’s top award. Sure, she was hoping for it, but she figured it would go to her ruthless competitor at a rival firm. The award doesn’t mean much to her, but when Trina attacks her ethics and ability, she’s not about to let the mouthy pipsqueak challenge her hard work.

When Trina and Kendall’s bosses come up with a competition to prove who’s the better agent, both women are hell bent on demonstrating who’s top dog. This is the perfect opportunity for Kendall to show that her family’s name no longer plays a role in her success. Trina and Kendall are presented with a high-end condominium complex with units for sale, and the rules are quite simple. Whoever sells the most units wins.

The only thing Trina and Kendall aren’t prepared for is the blinding attraction that develops between them. They can start a casual, no-strings-attached relationship in the middle of the competition, right? They can separate what goes on in the bedroom from achieving their sales goals, can’t they?

When the boundary between sex and love starts to blur, can the two competitive women separate business from pleasure, or are they destined for heartbreak?

The Characters

Trina Lee lights up the beginning of the story with her hot temper and sharp barbs. She’s furious over her loss to Kendall, and she doesn’t hold back in expressing her ire. This is a wonderful juxtaposition with how she treats her fellow coworkers and brother. She makes everyone around her feel special with her genuine concern, and she applies that to how she deals with her clients. It fosters great working relationships which is just one reason why she’s so successful. Trina is described as cut-throat when it comes to her business dealings when in actuality, she’s just hyper competent with a healthy dose of competitiveness. On a man, those qualities would be celebrated. Even with her career front and center, there’s still a part of her that wishes she had someone to come home to. It was fun watching her flirt with Kendall to throw her off her game, and I couldn’t wait to see if the flirting would turn into something more.

Kendall Yates is a little tougher to get to know. She’s got a very complicated relationship with her controlling father who’s just been released from jail. He’s undercut her confidence her entire life. She fled Connecticut to cut ties with the family business, but over the course of the book she realizes that she’s benefitted from the privilege her family’s wealth and status has afforded her. When Trina comes at her after she’s won the award for Relator of the Year she’s offended, rightfully so. She’s more than willing to prove she’s better at her job than Trina. The contest proves difficult for her because she’s not used to working as part of a team within her firm. She doesn’t trust other people, and I think that’s due to her father’s past actions. She hates how Trina gets under her skin, but despite how unnerving it is, she finds herself falling for the competent and gorgeous woman. There’re so many things to like about Kendall. It was compelling to watch her come to terms with her father’s underhanded business dealings and how they still affect her. Despite all this, she actively pursues Trina, and she’s the one to lay her feelings on the line to move their relationship to something more than just competitors with benefits.

The Writing Style

Riley writes with purpose and ease which makes for a compelling reading experience. She adds enough details to the settings to make them come to life without getting lost in the details. Her use of humor brings another dimension to the story adding bonus points for sharp dialogue. And talk about banter, the barbs Trina and Kendall exchange are fierce, making this enemies to lovers romance sing. The story is told from both Trina and Kendall’s points of view giving the reader insight as to what’s driving their actions and reactions. Overall this is polished writing that kept me engaged well into the wee hours of the morning.

My Favourite Parts

I loved the fiery relationship between Trina and Kendall. There’s a lot of heat between them. The fact they channel much of it in the form of sarcastic put-downs and cutting remarks only seems to amp up the tension. When they finally come together (no pun intended) their coupling is off the charts sexy. They work hard and they play hard. I always appreciate seeing two women who are unapologetic about their desire for sex. Trina and Kendall certainly fit that description and watching their lust turn into something more is the best part of the book.

Heads Up

Bet Against Me features an Asian American main character which I was really happy to see. The world of lesfic romance is rather white, and I love seeing women of color front and center. Since the author is not Asian American, there might be stereotypes that I didn’t pick up on. I could see Riley did her research for Trina’s backstory, but if there’s something that might be offensive to BIPoC, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to spot it.

The Conclusion

I couldn’t wait to read this book because enemies to lovers and workplace romance are my jam. When these tropes are combined it’s guaranteed to be highly combustible. This certainly is the case with Bet Against Me. I’m not sure what I liked more, Trina and Kendall exchanging insults or Trina and Kendall exchanging X-rated kisses. I usually don’t enjoy waiting for that inevitable moment when the main characters are torn apart, but in this instance, I was looking forward to it. These two women have big personalities, and they like to be in control. I knew that when things went sideways for them, it was going to be big. I wasn’t disappointed. This is a super sexy and fun read that hits all the right notes.

Excerpt from Bet Against Me by Fiona Riley

“Excuse me?” Kendall replied. With her this close, Trina was able to see the emerald glow of her eyes and the way that necklace she wore complemented them so nicely. The combo of the white Chanel pantsuit and no shirt on the strikingly beautiful woman would have normally caused Trina’s heart to skip a beat, but in this case, Kendall’s statuesque beauty only fueled her rage. She was beautiful and well-dressed on top of being unjustly awarded Trina’s title? No. Fucking. Way.

“That depends, do you need excusing?” Trina replied. “Like, should we excuse your win tonight because your father’s name did all the work? Or should we excuse the fact that you certainly leveraged that little bloodline nugget to get some numbers on your side to secure the win? Are we excusing cheating? Because that’s what this feels like. Nepotism. Plain and simple.” Trina spit the last bit out as bile rose in her throat. She hated to lose, but she hated losing due to favoritism more than anything.

Kendall cocked her head to the side and seemed to survey Trina before answering. Her voice was low, and her words were fast when she said, “I came over here to tell Whitaker I was leaving because I have better things to do than exchange small talk with losers like you. But since you’ve decided to drag me into whatever death spiral of shame you feel for being the first-place loser to my win, then you’d better brace yourself. Because I’m not going anywhere. And you can say all you want about my family’s name and how you think it might have influenced tonight’s award, but I can assure you, I did this all on my own. And I’ll do it again and again.” The smile she gave Trina was as fake as the blond hair on her head. “Get used to the feeling of coming up short.”

“And I suppose that threat is meant to make me shake in my Louboutins, is it?” Trina laughed. “What a heavy burden that legacy must be for you. I can’t imagine what all those open doors and windows must be like. Drafty, I bet. One long, clear hallway of Daddy’s favors and money helping you reach your goals. You probably haven’t had to work for anything in your entire life, have you? What a gift.”

Kendall’s nostrils flared and Trina knew she’d hit her target. “Listen, bitch—”

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