10 Things That Never Happened by Alexis Hall (Material World #1)

Sam Becker loves—or, okay, likes—his job. Sure, managing a bed-and-bath retailer isn't exactly glamorous, but it's good work, and he gets on well with the band of misfits who keep the store running. He could see himself being content here for the long haul. Too bad, then, that the owner is an infuriating git.

Jonathan Forest should never have hired Sam. It was a sentimental decision, and Jonathan didn't get where he is by following his heart. Determined to set things right, Jonathan orders Sam down to London for a difficult talk…only for a panicking Sam to trip, bump his head, and maybe accidentally imply he doesn't remember anything?

Faking amnesia seemed like a good idea when Sam was afraid he was getting sacked, but now he has to deal with the reality of Jonathan's guilt—as well as the unsettling fact that his surly boss might have a softer side to him. There's an unexpected freedom in getting a second shot at a first impression…but as Sam and Jonathan grow closer, can Sam really bring himself to tell the truth, or will their future be built entirely on one impulsive lie?

CONTRIBUTOR(S): Will Watt (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Dreamscape Media
YEAR: 2023
LENGTH: 391 pages (10 hours 10 minutes)
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Secondary Character(s), Gay/Achillean Main Character(s).

10 THINGS THAT NEVER HAPPENED follows Sam, a manager of a bed-and-bath retailer whose boss, Jonathan, is a dick. His royal dickishness. Generally a frustrating person to work for, someone who is currently determined to fire a number of people proportional to how much Sam has managed to irritate him during Sam's visit to the main branch. Except, right after Jonathan fires everyone in Sam's branch, Sam trips, hits his head, and accidentally lets Jonathan think he has amnesia. Then he purposefully lets him think he has amnesia. What he definitely has is a head injury/concussion, so Sam needs to spend a few weeks at Jonathan's place so someone is looking after him. Jonathan has an enormous, empty house that he refuses to let be filled with his (loud, often annoying) family for Christmas. 

They key to the success of 10 THINGS as a(n enemies to lovers) romance is that Jonathan has reasons, very understandable ones, for all the frustrating things he does. Sometimes he's probably right, sometimes he's just very wrong and hasn't had anyone willing to endure his ire long enough to show him a different (gentler) way to do things. He lives for his work, barely uses his enormous house, and only contacts his housekeeper via text message. Even when he is right, he doesn't seem willing to take the time to explain his reasons, which makes him look like a petty tyrant. Sam can't live like that, not even for a couple of weeks. As Sam tries to make a good impression so that Jonathan won't fire everyone for real at the end of this, he starts to understand Jonathan and genuinely like him as a person. 

This is the start of a new series, but a few details midway through establish this as occurring in the same universe as BOYFRIEND MATERIAL, some time after the events of HUSBAND MATERIAL. It's not enough to spoil either of those books in any way, but specific enough to be an obvious reference.

This has a lot of genuine sweetness in it, with a melancholy thread which pays off towards the end. The main plot resolves in a way which doesn't specifically indicate what might happen next, I could easily see this series continuing to follow Sam and Jonathan, or following a new couple where at least one person was present in this first book. 

Things I love, in no particular order: Sam's cat, everyone listing exact models of the bed/bath furnishings, Jonathan's family, the way the fake amnesia is handled.

If you like this you may like:

  • WAITING FOR THE FLOOD by Alexis Hall (same author)
  • THE GENTLE ART OF FORTUNE HUNTING by K.J. Charles (power dynamics, scams)
  • THE REANIMATOR'S HEART by Kara Jorgensen (co-worker romance, fantasy)

Graphic/Explicit CW for cursing.

Moderate CW for grief, injury detail, medical content, medical trauma, parental death, death.

Minor CW for sexual content.

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