“My insides go mushy at the scene of him hunched over her, holding her hands to support her as she sits down. A dozen heads turn to take in the visual. This dude. This dude has no idea what a panty-dropping move he just pulled. I fully expect every single person in the vicinity to swarm him like bees to honey the moment he finishes assisting the elderly woman.”
Alia Dunn has finally gotten her big break. After years of working her way up at TV’s top outdoor travel channel, she gets the green light from network executives to bring her dream project to life: produce a series about Utah’s national parks. It’s a touching tribute to her late apong, who sparked Alia’s passion for travel and the outdoors as a kid.
Alia is thrilled—until she meets her newest crew member, Drew Irons. The same Drew she had the most amazing first date with two weeks ago—who then ghosted her. The same Drew who has the most deliciously thick forearms and who loves second-guessing her every move on set in front of the entire crew. It’s not long before the tension between them turns hotter than the Utah desert in the dead of summer, and their steamy encounters lead to major feelings.
But when the series host goes rogue one too many times, jeopardizing the entire shoot, Alia realizes that she’ll need to organize one hell of a coup to save her show—and she’ll need Drew’s help to do it. It’s the riskiest move she’s ever made. If she pulls it off, she’ll end up with a hit series and her dream guy . . . but if it all goes wrong, she could lose both.
I have to admit, I was skeptical about this one at first – workplace romances aren’t my favourite. They can be rife with power imbalances that I don’t enjoy. I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the whole setup of On Location. Smith puts her characters literally on location in Utah’s national parks where a TV crew has to deal with a renegade host who likes his vices more than he likes to work. Leading the way is showrunner, and our heroine, Alia. She’s worked for years to have the chance to produce her own shows her own way. She’s not going to let anything get in the way. She’s focused and determined – which is why her conflicting emotions with Drew Irons, a freelance employee that she has major chemistry with, is so authentic. Alia doesn’t just give it all up for a wild night. She’s frank and open with Drew about how hard she’s worked to get where she is, and she’s not going to jeopardize her show just because she wants a fling. Drew works hard to woo her as well as to show her how much he cares for her and respects her position of power. Alia and Drew work hard as they establish their relationship to put boundaries into place – for them both to respect each other at work and in their private time. And that mutual respect is sexy as hell.
And let me tell you what else is sexy as hell – Drew and Alia’s chemistry. Their sexy encounters are hot! But getting to watch them build and develop their relationship is also pretty attractive. Alia and Drew are two individuals, who at the start of the book aren’t interested in more than fun times and no string attached sex. But, as they get to know each other as individuals, their mutual attraction turns into deep swoony feelings. I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve read a book where the characters develop such a strong friendship as they fall in love. Their relationship reads as authentic and genuine – this is no insta love – and I was rooting for them to find their happy ending.
I enjoyed that I got a sneak peek into the world of tv production, an industry I know very little about. One element that really stood out to me was Alia’s friendships at work. She had a small but solid circle of women that took the time to support each other: her mentor Brooke was there to support and fight for her with the executives and her best friend Haley was there to give her tough love and be a shoulder to cry on. During the story we meet Rylan who Alia ends up mentoring. I kept waiting for one of the women to become a bitch or drop the nice act and be a frenemy ready to stab Alia in the back – as it seems to happen so often in books and TV shows these days. I’m happy to report that I was wrong, and that strong, healthy friendships filled with mutual respect are a mainstay here. As a note: the women deal with some pretty heavy sexism and there is a sexual assault in the book. It felt, sadly, all too authentic an experience for working women.
I loved On Location. It was a fast read filled with character depth and emotion. Set in Utah’s national parks, the scenery became a part of the story and fueled my wanderlust. I’m ready to go get swept off my feet on a desert hike by a hunky man!
Thank you to Berkley, Penguin Random House for giving us an ARC in exchange for an honest review.