For my first romance of 2024, I decided to read Losing Control by J. J. Arias. I had heard so many great things about this author (shout out to the Strictly Sapphic podcast) and knew that I really wanted to check her work out sometime. So when my friends gifted me a copy for Christmas, I knew what I had to do. I am so happy with my choice. This book is a nearly perfect steamy slow build romance with tons of emotional depth.
Losing Control is the first in her new series of books set at the Miami-based Dominion Talent Agency. Andrea Ortiz is one of the top talent agents at the agency. The definition of straight-laced, she has gotten where she is by always following the rules, whether they be from her parents, teachers, or her boss. It’s led her to a fairly simple and straightforward life, but that’s the way she likes it. This life is upended, however, when she’s tasked with managing Roxy, better known as the wild and sexy pop star Roxxxy. Roxy’s latest antics have resulted in her tour manager quitting right before her nationwide tour is about to begin. Unable to find a replacement on such short notice, Andrea has no choice but to go on tour with Roxy in the hopes of keeping her out of further trouble. As Andrea and Roxy spend night after night together on Roxy’s tour bus, a connection forms between them that threatens to make Andrea break all her rules. For Roxy, this connection may finally be the thing that allows her to let someone in and see the real person behind the stage persona.
One of the key elements that can make or break a romance, especially a slow burn romance, is the tension between the characters. As a reader, it’s not enough to be told that characters are into each other; you need to feel it. J. J. Arias does a masterful job of making you feel the sexual and emotional tension between Andrea and Roxy as it gradually builds throughout the book. From their first meeting, you can sense the energy between them in the prose. Every sentence and paragraph is expertly used to build a palpable sense of inevitability between Andrea and Roxy, even if the characters themselves think it impossible. You know these two want each other; you feel it as it continues to escalate and drive them to do things they never thought they would. What makes this tension even better is how Arias mixes the sexual and emotional sides of this tension. Andrea and Roxy don’t just want to have sex with each other. There’s more to it than that, even if they don’t know it quite yet. All of this works together to make the slow burn a roaring fire that slowly builds into a blazing inferno.
Of course, tension is only good if there is a payoff. Arias knows this and delivers a highly satisfying payoff. (Slight spoilers for the last quarter of the book, highlight to read) She forgoes the trope of a third act breakup and instead gives us what could be described as an extended epilogue filled with incredibly steamy sex scenes and fantastic emotional character moments. At this point, the tour is over, and Andrea and Roxy are back in the real world. They’ve decided to be together, but that means figuring out what that means for both of them, their careers, and their personal lives. I personally loved this because it allows us to see how Andrea and Roxy continue to develop as a romantic partnership. Additionally, the sex scenes are so good because not only do they give us tasty 5-alarm spice, but also show how much these characters care for each other, how far they’ve come, and how deep their love is now. (End of spoilers)
Losing Control is a wonderfully steamy book filled with fantastic characters that you want to be together. The tension between characters is palpable and the payoff is very satisfying. If you’re a fan of spicy sapphic slow burns, I highly recommend this book. Personally, I can’t wait to see what J. J. Arias has cooked up in the rest of the series.