Kesa Sapiro is so close to her goal that she can almost taste it. With a few more orders under her belt, she’ll finally be able to afford a studio space for her business creating couture for celebrities. Not only will she get most of her apartment space back, she’ll also be able to ask clients to come to her so she can spend less time on LA’s pain-in-the-ass freeways.
Kesa’s dream looks like it might hit a snag when her nineteen-year-old sister, Josie, announces she’s getting married even though she’s been dating Paz for less than a month. Having raised Josie since their parents died when Kesa was 19 and Josie was 7, Kesa throws the hammer down and refuses to let Josie get married.
Shannon Dealan has been a mother figure to Paz for a few years and she’s equally shocked when he comes home and announces he’s getting married at the ripe old age of twenty. Paz’s past makes Shannon protective and a little worried about strangers, but she doesn’t want to alienate him by trying to forbid him from getting married.
Josie and Paz think it might be easier to convince Kesa and Shannon that they’re ready to get married if they can all sit down together and talk. Things don’t go exactly as planned during that first meeting and that’s when the story gets really interesting.
Shannon is the easiest character to like and connect with right from the get-go because she’s warmer and more laid back. Kesa is so focused on her career and gets in so many tense conversations with Josie that I found it a little harder to connect with her at first. That said, the more I learned about Kesa, the more I liked her. I loved their journey to their happy ending and, unfortunately, I can’t really say anything else without spoilers.
Fans of Jennifer Lamont and her wife, Suzanne Mason, will be happy to know they’re supporting characters in Because I Said So. If you haven’t read Captain of Industry, you’ll still be able to follow everything in this one just fine, because I still haven’t read it yet (I know! I’m sorry!) and I had no issues.
The Writing Style
I mean, it’s a romance by Karin Kallmaker. Of course the writing is excellent. I powered through this one and may have stayed up past my bedtime to finish it.
But seriously, in addition to everything (excellent characters, writing, pacing, romance), one thing worth calling out is the exploration of family relationships, both of blood and of choice. Josie and Kesa’s relationship is as fraught as Paz and Shannon’s is positive. Kallmaker does a great job interrogating these dynamics and showing how positive growth can still happen at any age and/or stage in a relationship.
This book is so good and the cover doesn’t do it any justice because it’s just too busy, pulling in too many elements. Please give it a try anyway, because it truly is worth the time.
Also, which I hinted at above, I can’t talk about my favourite aspect of the book without blowing a massive spoiler. Just know that it’s SO GOOD.
Readers looking for a layered romance full of complicated feelings and a perfect ending will want to pick up this one. It might just be my favourite book from Kallmaker and it’s one I’ll come back to again.
Excerpt from Because I Said So by Karin Kallmaker
She could only make out the outline of the woman sitting on the other side of Josie’s boyfriend. That must be the guardian, Kesa thought. The window reflected a blur of shoulder-length dark blond hair, and the arm on the table was ivory in the artificial light.
They were all so relaxed, as if this was an ordinary family event.
The boyfriend leaned back in his chair and Kesa could suddenly see the other woman’s profile: a long nose and wide smile as she teased the young man about something. Her laugh was slightly husky and seemed to come to her easily.
Josie saw her then and the animation drained from her face. She rose to awkwardly hug Kesa, saying, “You’re late.”
This can’t be happening, Kesa thought. She let go of Josie when she realized Josie might feel her shaking. “Traffic and parking. I thought I allowed enough time.”
The young man had risen as well and extended his hand. “You must be Kesa. I’m Paz.” His grip was firm, confident. Not a boy. A man.
This can’t be happening.
He gestured at the woman seated next to him. She began to rise, and Kesa managed to say, “Don’t get up on my account.”
Words failed her at that point. After a moment the other woman extended her hand across the table. “Shannon.”
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