REVIEW: Teddy Spenser Isn’t Looking for Love by Kim Fielding
Some people search their whole lives to find love. He just wants to avoid it.
Teddy Spenser spends his days selling design ideas to higher-ups, living or dying on each new pitch. Stodgy engineer types like Romeo Blue, his nemesis—if you can call someone who barely talks to you a nemesis—are a necessary evil. A cute necessary evil.
Working together is bad enough, but when their boss puts them both on a new high-stakes project, “working together” suddenly means:
¥ sitting uncomfortably close on the same plane
¥ staying in the same hotel room—with only one bed
¥ spending every waking minute together.
Turns out Mr. Starched Shirt has some hidden depths, and it’s getting harder to ignore the spark Teddy feels with every brush of their hands, with every knowing glance. He might not have been looking for this connection with Romeo, but will he ever be ready to let him go?
Dear Kim Fielding,
Teddy Spenser works for a Chicago-based company called Reddyflora which is manufacturing a “smart vase”. He’s in charge of the design and Romeo Blue, a co-worker, is the software engineer in charge of the “smart” part of the device. This is the company’s first product and money is very tight. They’re trying hard to keep the production costs in spec so that they ca make a profit but when Teddy sees Romeo’s requirements for the software he is in despair. The entire aesthetic will be off. Worse, the costs are too high. The two men are tasked to work together urgently to come up with a solution that will meet the budget and also look good.
Teddy has a number of preconceived notions about Romeo but they’re mostly misinformed. Their boss, Lauren, tells them they have a potential investor and stresses to them the important of pleasing said investor to assure the company will survive – and then, they are sent to Seattle to meet with Joyce Alexander, the lady with the money. Teddy is beside himself; Joyce Alexander is a fashion guru, an icon of style and someone whom Teddy has long admired. Teddy enjoys his job but his dream is to run a vintage clothing and more store and help people style themselves and their homes. Joyce is just about the epitome of his aspirations when it comes to design and style.
When Teddy and Romeo make it to Seattle they discover there has been a mix up in the hotel booking and not only is there only one room – there’s (dun dun dunnnnn!) only one bed! (Oh noes!).
Up until that point I was able to go with it well enough. Sure it’s a little unlikely but I’ve gone along with far less likely setups before – and let’s face it, only one bed is often worth it. But I did get a little squinty-eyed when Teddy and Romeo meet Joyce, to find that she doesn’t really want to hear their pitch, but rather has a series of “tests” for them to complete over the next three days so she can assess how well they work together – something that will (somehow) help her decide whether or not to invest her money. It was a bit too much for me. I didn’t really understand why even an eccentric rich old white woman would do any of these things and I didn’t really understand what she expected or wanted to achieve out of them.
However, putting that aside (and it is a big ask I admit) it did force Teddy and Romeo into close proximity and it did force them to work as a team. And, as they did so, Teddy realises just how much of a gem Romeo is. For his part, Romeo has had a crush on Teddy for ages and it is not long before the two men are making use of that one bed in a not-just-for-sleeping way. (The book is not terribly explicit; there is on page sex but it’s fairly low heat – I’d rate it about a 3-4/10 on a heat scale where 10 is scorching and 1 is a chaste kiss at the end.)
The romance itself is sweet and fairly conflict-free. I did like the low-angst of it and the way the two men, once they started opening up to one another, actually were honest and open and vulnerable enough to reap all the rewards of a healthy relationship. It’s all super-fast but I did believe in them. The epilogue, set two years later, helped me there.
I liked Teddy and I adored Romeo. I enjoyed the way you showed Teddy how his misconceptions were wrong – that there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for the things he had previously considered negative about Romeo and actually they were not at all terrible. I loved how Teddy helped Romeo find his own sense of style. I loved Romeo’s family too and I liked the various representations, presented in the book too. I still don’t understand exactly what Joyce was trying to achieve though.