Review: A Gentleman in the Street by Alisha Rai

Reviewed by Caitlin

When I first started reading romance, I noticed a lot of “enemies-to-lovers” stories involved the hero being shitty to the heroine for no reason, so she responded by standing up for herself. It’s too bad, because I typically love that set-up, but it was frustrating to watch the hero be so much shittier than the heroine and still have it play out like they were both equally at fault.

The reason for this, of course, is that we (me included! I’m working on it!) are much more willing to forgive our male characters and root for their redemption arcs than we are our female characters. A female character who is unapologetically sexual and selfish and abrasive is more difficult to root for than a male character with the same traits.

Which is why Akira Mori of A Gentleman in the Streets is so damn refreshing. Akira hosts sex parties. She sleeps with men and women and gives no fucks. She works hard and she plays hard. She’s known as a party girl, but she’s built a billion-dollar business because she’s damn good at the hospitality industry.

And she’s never been able to get Jacob Campbell – the son of a man her mother married for a hot second 12 years ago – out of her mind.

Jacob is a writer of a successful series of spy books. He’s serious and usually quiet. He’s always taken care of his younger siblings since his father was too irresponsible (the kind to run off to Vegas for a weekend of gambling and forget he had kids to take care of back home) and they needed someone. He has always avoided Akira like the plague because she threatens his careful control. He wants her, but he doesn’t think he can have her.

Unfortunately, that makes him come off as kind of a judgmental prick. Which does a number on Akira, who hides her deep-seated insecurity about being the wrong kind of girl close to the chest. When he finally admits he’s attracted to her and THAT’S why he’s always treated her poorly (although he never realized he was), she flips out on him, telling him it’s not okay to make his attraction to her her problem.

What follows is a realization for Jacob that he did fuck up – that he did hurt a woman he cared about because of his own issues – and that he wants her in his life enough to do whatever it takes to make amends. All he wants is a chance, and he’ll walk away if he doesn’t prove himself. Conveniently, Akira’s grandmother left behind a puzzle box and she doesn’t know how to open it. Jacob offers his services. He has 10 days to prove himself.

Jacob discovering his kinky sexuality while Akira learning how to open up is a beautiful role reversal on what we usually see: the dissipated rake of a hero getting together with the smart and responsible bluestocking heroine. Akira is tough to like at first, but she’s so well-written and such a badass that she very quickly wins you over.

As I said earlier, part of the reason she’s tough to like at first is because she’s a woman acting the way we typically let our bad boy heroes act. I’m an ardent feminist, and I still struggle with this. A Gentleman in the Streets proves how important romance can be to feminism and how we view women and our roles in the world – all while being supremely entertaining.

Rating: A-

Click to purchase: Amazon

A Gentleman in the Streets
by Alisha Rai
Release Date: November 24, 2014

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