I'm not interested in this trope in my real life, of course. But fiction is fiction is fiction and it doesn't mean it's something you want to happen to you in real life. In fact, if I asked for a day off of work and my boss said I'd have to have sex with him to get it then I'd probably laugh in his face and have one hand already dialing HR. The other hand would be repeatedly flipping him off in the most aggressive of manners.
Now that I've done the requisite spiel...I've read three books in the last week with this trope and it's unbelievably spicy. And wrong. And spicy. And illegal. And spicy. And I'm afraid it might be my new rabbit hole to fall down (move over MM hockey romances, there's a new trope in town).
Now, everyone and their Mom knows that I love Captivated by Tessa Bailey and Eve Dangerfield which isn't this trope, but also gives vibes like it might be right at the start when the big, looming, grumpy landlord Blake shows up after his bubbly, Australian tenant's bank transaction fails (she recently had to get new shit after her boyfriend cheated on her). Alas, Autumn has the money, so we don't get that sexy "fuck me and I'll let you skate on rent" trope, but she does write her new banking information on the back of a filthy comic she drew of him dominating her...so that's fun.
One Patreon supporter recommended Bass-Ackwards by Eris Adderly for my TBR Takedown Month event, which I've reviewed here. And another recommended Mutually Beneficial by Ava and Heather Guerre. I read them back to back and it was spectacular. They're both the sort of book where you need to take breathers because the heat and angst is so intense that you're afraid you'll hyperventilate and die of horniness.
I won't get into the amazingness of Bass-Ackwards again because you can just read my previous review, but I'll remind you that it's the grumpy boss extorts his receptionist for sex with promises of PTO and her first raise in two years (ah, the American dream). Mutually Beneficial gives us Annalise, a girl struggling to make rent because she's putting her brother through rehab, and her landlord Jason, who has had a crush on Annalise for years and seizes the opportunity to get what he wants (please note at the time of the proposal he has no idea why she can't afford rent).
You're reading it and you're feeling dirty and you kind of want to report yourself to some greater authority and be punished for enjoying a trope so skin-crawlingly wrong. But at the same time you're kind of wishing your landlord was a hot ex-military dude with a beard and compromised morals. The dual POV helps because you can see from the start that Annalise is attracted to him and turned on by the idea and you also get to see how shitty Jason feels about the offer but how much he can't stop wanting her in any way he can get her.
Jason is suffering from PTSD and a traumatic brain injury from his time in the military, not to mention he's also trying to come to terms with an abusive past relationship where his ex withheld his medications from him and was emotionally abusive to the nth degree. Annalise is a people-pleaser and a people-pusher. She wants the best for her friends and family, no matter what they want. She works in a field that is incredibly draining and that combined with her brother's problems means she just wants to turn off her brain and be told what to do by her big, bad landlord once a week.
The story turns from wrong to adorable pretty quickly as the two learn to communicate and express themselves emotionally and physically with each other. And the sex between these two is absolutely perfection. It's going to be a frequent reread of mine when I'm allowed to do that again.
Moving on to the second book in the series, Preferential Treatment, which I'm reading for a podcast I'm going to be on... Whoa, boy. It's a similar Pay for Play premise, but also a femdom romance (of which I've read very few). Mikhail is a cold, emotionless billionaire CEO of a big ass company who likes being ruled by a domineering woman. He wants to be edged, forced to obey and provide pleasure to his Princess, financially dominated, spanked, made to kneel and worship, etc. And his lowly employee Kate has the perfect boss bitch vibes for him. So, of course, he offers her $5,000 a week to make him a submissive mess. And, of course, she accepts because she's in debt and just scraping by in an apartment she can't afford.
I think I need to go to church after this one, but I'm a little afraid that I'd burst into flames if I did, because holy shit. I just want men to be spanked all the time, I guess. New kink unlocked, for sure.
I highly recommend both of these books if you want something that'll fuck you up and make you wonder where your morals went. Employee morale has never been higher though.
Purchase Mutually Beneficial here.
Purchase Preferential Treatment here.
And stay tuned for the podcast where I'll be discussing it out loud.