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I rarely give a book five stars. For me that means it is a book that will stay with me long after I have read it. It will never be a book that I have to look up to refresh my memory because I can't remember which one out of the hundred books I read a year it is.
It goes without saying that having a main character who is asexual is really the centerpiece of this book. I thought it was handled with such grace and I learned so much about it without it sounding like an "Asexual 101" lecture.
Unlike many characters in lesfic, Leo and Holly are really fleshed out, likable and accessible. I really felt like I understood what made them tick and I liked how Jae allowed me time to get to know them. I also loved that we got to see them get to know each other. There was no love at first sight! These two women first struck up an unlikely friendship and then embarked on a sweet, sweet courtship. I bought the "I love you" that was eventually issued by each woman and I loved them as a couple.
The only thing that was wrong with the book is that it ended. I really wanted to read everything that happened between the end of the book and the epilogue. I wanted more of Leo and Holly's story. It was touching, funny and sexy but most of all it felt authentic.
Leontyne "Leo" Blake and Holly Drummond couldn't be less alike. Through a family emergency, they meet and, at first, clash. Holly is Mr. Blake's nurse and Leo is a star pop singer who comes back to her small Missouri town of Fair Oaks when her father takes ill. Holly and Leo circle around each other suspiciously for awhile, until they realize there is something more to their relationship than just two people who care about Mr. Blake.
Through misunderstandings and explanations, something special grows between Leo and Holly, something neither of them could ever have foreseen. Both women had been disappointed in love before. Why should this time be different?
This book is flawlessly edited and flawlessly told - two things that will make me excited to read Jae's other books. What have I been missing all these years? I'm about to find out!
This is the first romance book I've read that included an asexual character and, at least to me, it was done brilliantly (please note, though, that I'm a straight cis white dude so I'm definitely not able to judge this entirely fairly). I felt like I learned a lot about the spectrum of asexuality, and I appreciated that the relationship was much more than just sexy times. That's not to say, though, that there aren't any "adult" moments in the book - just that the core relationship doesn't revolve around that.
On the topic of uncommon tropes - I was sooooo happy that Jae wrote the main characters as adults who could communicate. I largely stopped reading romance books for awhile now because I got fed up with authors who made the whole climax of the book revolve around people who don't communicate and end up fighting over something stupid. Leo and Holly may struggle to overcome their judgements of each other at first - but they quickly learn to share their thoughts and feelings in a reasonable way. Both of these characters just felt so _real_ to me and I loved that.
Aside from that, I also greatly appreciated that Jae threw in some elements I have never seen before in the romance genre: video games and online friends. One of Holly's closest friends is someone she met online and that was something I can relate to. Furthermore, both Holly and Leo enjoy video games and, if their tastes are anything to go by, Jae also has wonderful tastes in games (Witcher 3 + Mass Effect). I imagine that many people won't get the references to the characters or races in either of those, but it was something that definitely struck my fancy.
As if all of that wasn't enough, this book even kept me feeling alright through the sad parts. One of my biggest issues with some romance books is when the book is just full of tragedy after tragedy. I want the books I read to pick me up, put a smile on my face, and make me feel good about the world. Jae does exactly that here. While there are some sad parts in the middle of the book, I found them to be beautifully done and not distracting from the overall positive tone throughout the story.
Basically: I simply adored this book and would highly recommend it to anyone looking interested in the romance genre.