Bet on It by: Jodie Slaughter

ARC was provided by St. Martin’s Press, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

The first time Aja Owens encounters the man of her dreams, she’s having a panic attack in the frozen foods section of the Piggly Wiggly. The second time, he’s being introduced to her as her favorite bingo buddy’s semi-estranged grandson. From there, all it takes is one game for her to realize that he’s definitely going to be a problem. And if there’s anything she already has a surplus of, it’s problems.

In Walker Abbott’s mind, there are only two worthwhile things in Greenbelt, South Carolina. The peach cobbler at his old favorite diner and his ailing grandmother. Dragging himself back after more than a decade away, he’s counting down the days until Gram heals and he can get back to his real life. Far away from the trauma inside of those city limits. Just when he thinks his plan is solid, enter Aja to shake everything up.

A hastily made bingo-based sex pact is supposed to keep this…thing between them from getting out of hand. Especially when submitting to their feelings means disrupting their carefully balanced lives. But emotions are just like bingo callers—they refuse to be ignored.

Releases: July 12th, 2022

Content Warnings: Anxiety, panic attacks, c-PTSD, mention of parental abandonment, child neglect, a parent with substance abuse issues, and bullying.

When I first read the summary for this book I knew that I needed to get my hands on it. Having requested the arc a few months back, I’d all but given up hope that I’d get approved so when I received an email saying that my request had been accepted I was thrilled!

As someone who’s suffered from anxiety, depression, and PTSD since childhood I was happy to see the mental health representation done so well in this book. Growing up if there was mental health representation it was usually poorly done or was used to villainize those with mental health diagnoses. It’s nice to see writers creating fully rounded characters who deal with issues so many of us face in our day-to-day lives. I look forward to a time when mental health awareness is truly normalized and accepted and isn’t used to villainize or shame people.

Aja’s anxiety and panic attacks led her to relocate to the small town of Greenbelt South Carolina after a google search showed it was one of the quietest towns in America. As a way to get out of the house, and be somewhat social, Aja’s taken to attending weekly Bingo night. Though by far the youngest member in attendance, Aja finds comfort in the atmosphere and looks forward to attending every Wednesday.

Though she’s never gotten the courage to exchange numbers, Aja bonds with May, who sits next to Aja every week. Aja regrets that they never exchanged contact info after a few weeks, in a row, May did not make it to Bingo night. Trying to work up the courage to ask around about May, she’s relieved, and concerned, as May walks in with both arms in casts.

Having left town over a decade ago, with no intention of ever returning, the love of his grandma brings Walker back to town. Battling the past trauma that Greenbelt caused him, Walker is determined to ensure his grandma May recovers, before he makes another quick exit from the town that caused him nothing but pain in his youth.

In Walker, Aja sees a kindred spirit, someone who understands her struggles and is comforting, and patient, rather than judgemental. Walker has no intention of speaking to anyone in town, outside of his grandma May, but when he meets Aja he can’t help but want to get to know her better.

With a bet in place, to ensure they limit interactions and prevent feelings from developing, why do Aja and Walker, both, keep finding reasons to spend more time together?

This book was such a sweet read with mental health representation and two similar souls who find comfort, love, and acceptance with each other, and within themselves. I also loved the fat representation we got with Aja and how she’s confident in who she is. Aja is fat but it’s never used as a source of trauma or pain it’s simply just one small part of who she is.

If you enjoy books with great mental health and fat representation I highly recommend picking this book up when it releases in July! Getting to know Aja and Walker was so much fun…I really hope Jodie decides to give us more stories within this world.

Published by Noelle Loves Books

Growing up, Japanese and Indigenous, it was hard to find books that showcased stories and worlds that accurately portrayed Noelle’s experiences. Fantasy quickly became her main love, as you could really be anyone, anywhere. As the years went on, and technology grew, Noelle was finally able to see more stories and authors that looked and felt like her. Noelle is open to all genre’s though she can mostly be found reading own voice, fantasy, and romance. Ratings: 5 Stars: Completely blew me away 4 Stars: Loved the story but didn't feel completely blown away by it 3 Stars: Liked the overall concept of the story but either had poor execution, had a lot of plot holes, or was written poorly 2 Stars: I struggled to understand the plot, poorly written, or just had really unlikeable characters along with a poor writing 1 Star: Horribly written, major plot holes, or extremely unlikeable characters and plots.

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