One of the things I like about romance novels is that it is often a space where female authors work through the issues around work-life balance. This is the main issue in Sarah Mayberry’s Her Favorite Rival.
Audrey and Zach are rivals at work and now, both up for the same big promotion, must work together on a project. With an inevitably you would expect in this genre, they find they like each other, a lot.
Zach throws down the gauntlet when, after their one night of passion, tells her he wants a relationship with her. Audrey then has an internal debate with herself:
While there was no official nonfraternization rule within the company, Makers was a conservative organization. She knew eyebrows would be raised, questions asked. After all, how could they have possibly fallen for each other when they were supposed to spend every living breathing moment working for the company’s good?
Capitalism is fun!
I love Sarah Mayberry and will forever read anything and everything she writes. I find her description of characters and their motivations to be honest and complicated in ways that rarely feel forced.
In the case of Her Favorite Rival, a main complication for Audrey is that she is not in her position at the company due to college degrees and internships.
She’d started in the warehouse at Makers when she was nineteen years old. She’d studied at night to finish high school, and she’d put her hand up for every training program the company offered.
She fears leaving the company for whatever reason could send her to the back of the line career-wise.
What I also appreciate is that Zach also struggles with replacing years of programmed ambition aside to fill space in his life with happiness. The parallel between the characters reveals the fact that work-life balance discussions are not just about women and their dream of “having it all.”
How Zach and Audrey work this out in the end isn’t for me to spoil. I suggest you read and find out yourself.