After Hours

After Hours - Cara McKenna 4.5 stars.
I’m not a big fan of erotica, first person, single POV, or BDSM yet I really loved this book. I think it’s because it was more heavily weighted toward romance than it was erotica. The BDSM is pretty tame and limited to one (very long) sex scene. The other sex scenes are just explicit but not crazily so. The first person POV is inescapable, though, yet somehow worked better for me than most others I’ve read. This is due to the strength of Cara McKenna’s writing. I love the contemporary romances she writes as Meg Maguire. After Hours is a happy medium between her regular romances and her erotica books.

Erin Coffey is not your standard romance novel heroine. She is tough, gritty, and at times very unsympathetic. I love that she has a regular job in an unusual setting (psych ward) and her family is screwed up in a very real way. Kelly Robak is also not your standard hero. He’s not rich (even secretly) or professionally powerful and he likes to be in control. He’s also very self-aware and doesn’t have hang-ups that could be easily resolved with a few therapy sessions. Like Erin, he grew up in a dysfunctional family without money or a good support system. They make an unlikely couple and it’s difficult to see how they’re going to end up getting past all the emotional obstacles in their way. Because the POV is limited only to Erin, I didn’t really have a good grasp of Kelly until the very end when he has a very honest, open discussion with Erin. It’s one of the best moments in the book. The book is actually filled with lots of great moments and lots of detail about working in a locked down psych ward which I found interesting.

A really great, emotional read with good characterization and just enough humor to keep it from being depressing. The ending seems to be a "Happy For Now" but it would have felt unbelievable had it ended with a marriage proposal or wedding.