Cooper Fallon is the COO of Synergy Analytics, a company he began with his best friend, Jackson Jones. He’s also a closeted bisexual man who’s loved Jackson since college. The last year has been torture, as Cooper watched Jackson fall in love and marry a woman, because Jackson has only ever been straight. Now, picking up after Jackson’s professional foibles causes Cooper to lash out in ways that terrify him. A survivor of child abuse, Cooper’s afraid he’s headed down the road of his alcoholic abuser father, and so he leaves Synergy—and home—for a hidden respite in the Caribbean, to an island nation on which his extended family live. He thinks Synergy’s CEO, Weston, will keep the company going in his absence. Only, Weston might have a more lucrative plan to unload the company, and it’s up to Cooper’s devoted assistant, Ben Levy-Walters, to track down Cooper and save Synergy.
Ben is a survivor of his own making. He failed out of college due to a bad relationship, and then ended up hiding out in a homeless shelter rather than telling his loving parents that he messed up. He’s since put himself through school one course at a time, which is easier now that he is Cooper’s executive assistant. Synergy has a tuition reimbursement program and Ben’s finally earning enough to save money for an apartment of his own. Currently, he’s sleeping on his sister Mimi’s couch—she’s in the accounting division at Synergy. So, if Synergy goes down, well, they both stand to lose their jobs, as well as Ben’s tuition, Mimi’s apartment, and well, Cooper. Because Ben is 100% secretly in love with Cooper—even though he can plainly see that Cooper’s gone over Jackson. Still, Synergy is in jeopardy because of Weston’s plot. Ben launches a mission to find Cooper, reveal the secret takeover plot, and save the company. Only, well, an idyllic escape with the man you’ve grown to adore can be a HUGE distraction to the most desperate of “save the company” plans.
Cooper’s alcohol-fueled despondency is rudely interrupted by Ben pushing his way into Cooper’s spaces, aided by Cooper’s family and friends who don’t want to see him mired in anguish. Still, Cooper had been low-key attracted to Ben for months now, and this could be the fresh start he’s needed. Screw Jackson and Synergy, he’d be happier without them. Especially with amazing Ben taking care of him. Cooper is ready to acknowledge that he’s over Jackson and wants to take care of Ben, but the industrial espionage Weston’s planning is not something Ben can accept, and anything that hurts Ben is now Cooper’s mission to defeat. Plus, the company Weston has aligned himself with is a bad guy in their field and Weston is going all out on that takeover—making Cooper fight a personal battle on top of a corporate one.
Boss Me is the fourth book in the Synergy Office series, with the other books being male/female romances. This was a good story; I often like a boss/secretary romance. Both Cooper and Ben are good men with tortured souls, to a degree. They have people who love and support them and want them to find happiness, so that was awesome. I liked the island setting, and how Cooper cut loose from his responsibilities for the first time ever. I think I struggled with the lackadaisical way Ben lost his mission, though. He’s supposed to be getting Cooper back on track, and he’s taking a vacation, instead. All the desperate things that are going to come to pass if he fails seem to dissolve in the Caribbean sun. And, well, that stalled the story for me. Cooper is petty and struggling to imagine what his future might look like. He knows Ben must be a part of it, and yet Cooper is loathe to confess traumas that would further unite them. It was a little hard to accept that Ben thinks the connection they discover on the island will fall apart the second they return to San Francisco.
In all, I felt the pace was a little long, especially in the island setting. That meant the climactic showdown felt rushed. I liked how Cooper made right all that he’d messed up, and gave Ben the flexibility to follow his true dreams. The resolution is complete, and leaves room for further Synergy stories with new characters.