Written by: Amy Herman-Pall
Category: Age Gap (May/Dec), Black Leading Lady, Book Review, British Leading Lady, Contemporary, Lesbian Fiction, Romance, Short Story/Novella, Sweet, Sweet Romance (with little angst), Workplace
Tags: Emma Sterner-Radley, Heartsome Publishing
Life Pushes You Along by Emma Sterner-Radley was an addictive little story that sucked me in and wouldn’t let me stop reading until I reached the end. Zoe Achidi is stuck in a rut. She’s been in the same dead end job for the past eight years, she has no friends beyond her best friend and her brother – who are dating each other, and she hasn’t had a date, much less a girlfriend, in two years. She spends her days at the small, independent bookshop where she works hoping that the hot, sexy woman in the business suits will come in so she can indulge in her crush on her. It turns out that this woman, Rebecca Clare, is a manager at an employment recruitment agency. Suddenly, Zoe’s best friend and her brother are both going to Rebecca to beg her to help Zoe find a better job. And they’re hoping that somehow, this crush will work itself into something more.
Zoe’s pretty easy to like. She may be stuck in a rut, but she’s also sweet and loyal. She seems a bit scared to try to do better for herself, but she doesn’t realize that she’s already been braver than she thinks, surviving a bad family reaction to her homosexuality and not giving in to despair. She’s made a life for herself. Now, she just needs a bit of courage to make that life complete.
Rebecca Clare is also extremely likeable. She’s hard to read at first – there are subtle signs she might be interested in Zoe as something more than just someone to mentor, but Zoe’s fears keep her from acting on any flirting she thinks Rebecca may be doing. It isn’t until life happens that events push both Zoe and Rebecca out of their comfort zones and we see how each woman truly feels.
Helen, Zoe’s best friend, and Jamie, Zoe’s brother, both get a mention here. Without these two as Zoe’s closest friends and support system, and the catalysts for the events that bring Zoe and Rebecca together, Zoe and Rebecca may never have spoken outside the polite conversations they had in the bookstore where Zoe worked. Everyone deserves people in their lives who care about them as much as Helen and Jamie care about Zoe.
The Writing Style
The pacing in this book was wonderful. The writing draws the reader in, making her lose track of time, turning page after page, and forgetting all the chores her wife wanted her to do that morning. In fact, I think the author owes this reviewer an apology for getting her in trouble…
There wasn’t much I didn’t like in this book. It seemed to flow really easily, and smoothly. The events built up at a nice pace – nothing seemed unreasonable or rushed, and yet nothing slowed the pace and bogged the story down. The characters were wonderful and I was rooting for them to open their eyes to what was right in front of them the whole time.
The only con for me was that the book was over too soon.
This story was a pure joy to read. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quick story to take them away from any chores on the honey-do list that their wives may have left for them on their day off. Or really, anyone who’s looking for a sweet romance to escape into for a little while. You won’t be disappointed.
Excerpt from Life Pushes You Along by Emma Sterner-Radley
As she browsed for C. Robert Cargill, she smelled a familiar scent. She realised it was perfume and at first just ignored it, assuming she had just smelled it on a customer at some point. The scent got stronger as she walked further and when she reached the end of the Cs, she had stopped looking for Cargill and was now concentrating on breathing in the alluring smell. It was peculiar; sharp like elderberry but tinged with something warmer like vanilla. Zoe wasn’t sure, since she had stuck to fruity body sprays ever since she was a teenager. The world of complicated, and probably expensive, perfumes was all strange territory to her.
Soon she realised that she had smelled this heavy perfume before but it had been mixed with something else. Something almost unpleasant but quite normal, something like… rain. She had smelled that perfume mixed with the scent of rain-soaked hair and clothes.
She thought back and added up the facts. It was a female perfume, on a person who was rained on, and, if she was honest, there was only one person she could imagine herself being alert enough around to pick up on their perfume choice; Rebecca Clare.
Zoe froze. Surely this was just a coincidence. It couldn’t be her. Zoe couldn’t have managed to run into a client she knew from a Central London bookshop out here in leafy Queenswell?
She sniffed the air to try to determine where the woman in question could be. Her nose led her down the row of shelves and she guessed that the scent was coming from the other side of the bookcases. She backed up, looked around the corner, and was rewarded by the sight of Rebecca Clare crouching on the ground picking out a book from the lower shelf.
There were so many ways Zoe could have handled this situation. She could have snuck away and avoided any weirdness. Or she could have walked past, faking not having seen Rebecca, to just accidentally bump into her and get to have a conversation. Or just said, “hi.” like a normal person.
What Zoe Achidi did was stare for a long time while the shock made her bag slip slowly from her fingers. It was a largish messenger bag and filled to the brim with stuff that had seemed so essential, but now only made it incredibly heavy and noisy as it landed on the floor. The thud echoed through the quiet library, loud enough to wake the dead.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781999702922
- Publisher: Heartsome Publishing
Emma Sterner-Radley Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Life Pushes You Along by Emma Sterner-Radley. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.