Romance is tricky, and contemporary romance seems even more challenging to write. Especially because the romance tropes are so familiar to people, it’s hard to make them fresh. Which is why I give Hockman major props, Shipped was really good!

Part of that might be because I do love a well told enemies to lovers stories, but the tropical setting certainly didn’t hurt! I honestly picked this one up because it sounded like the Unhoneymooners and I love that one. But it was actually still origional!

Exactly. #gilgamesh

Henley (rough name) is a workaholic. When she isn’t skipping happy hours and social events to work late for her job with a travel company, she’s taking night classes to get her MBA. And if she’s run ragged, she can handle it. She’ll sleep after she’s promoted right?

What she can’t handle is Graeme (what is with Hockman and names?). Graeme is a remote team member who took credit for something Henley did when he first started and she has resented him ever since. Not to mention his emails are always short, he doesn’t always listen to her instructions, and once he listened to part of a conversation between Henley and her boss because she didn’t know he was on speakerphone.

A total villain, right?

Ok, maybe not. But we all have that one person at work who drives us crazy for a bunch of tiny reasons. Hockman nailed what that felt like. And all this means Henley isn’t happy at all when she and Graeme are up for the same promotion. Especially because he’s a sexist so Henley is starting with a disadvantage.

But the best part, as an assignment for the promotion, Henley and Graeme are taking one of the company cruises through the Galápagos and creating a promotional proposal. The same cruise. On the same ship.

They’re finally going to meet in person.

Naturally, there are some hiccups along the way; Henley’s sister comes along, one of the other passengers can’t take a hint to leave Henley alone, and the ship’s captain is reporting their movements to their boss. Turns out, he has terrible timing.

The bar is high

Also, Graeme is hot. And nice. And didn’t do those things Henley thought he did? But it doesn’t matter, Henley’s been burned by an office relationship and isn’t going to risk it.

Or is she….

Honestly, it was cute. It also deviated from the typical enemies to lovers by dealing with some serious topics (@ Henley’s sister) and adding some elements that weren’t romance focused (@ the ending). So if you’re looking for something cute and enjoyable with a sprinkle of serious issues, definitely pick up Shipped!

I’m excited to see what else Hockman writes, but in the meantime I might revisit Beach Read