The Belle vs the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins is an incredibly cute enemies-to-lovers, new adult romance. It opens with one of the more memorable first lines I’ve come across in a while: “Getting busted in the back of a bar with your hand on a penis was not the way to go about picking up the hottest lesbian on campus.”
Shelby Summerfield is most definitely a lesbian and did NOT want to be touching her classmate anywhere, let alone his crotch. Unfortunately, he was drunk and sad, pawing at her as a way to console himself after getting dumped. Florence Truong is the last person Shelby wanted to see her like that, since Shelby’s been crushing on the super-hot, dapper dyke.
When Shelby asks to join Florence’s trivia team at the bar, Florence is a gigantic jerk to her and ruins Shelby’s chances of getting laid with any girl at their college by publicly calling her straight. So, Shelby comes up with the ultimate revenge: form her own team of trivia ringers to wipe the floor with Florence’s team. Shelby gets an idea of how she can kick her revenge up a notch when a campus-wide game of assassin begins. What Shelby she protects Florence just long enough that she can take Florence out herself? Of course, that means being in close proximity and who knows how long they’ll be able to resist the chemistry that’s sprung up, despite their animosity…
Shelby is very much a Southern belle and she stays true to herself while going to a Northern college. I love that she brooks no bullshit and isn’t afraid to go after what she wants, even if she has to get devious to achieve her goals. I suspect the fact that the book is set in 1993 also affects the way Florence perceives Shelby, specifically her assumption that Shelby MUST be straight, because she doesn’t look like the other lesbians that Florence knows.
Florence is the BDOC (Big Dyke On Campus), out and proud, surrounded by other proud flannel-wearers. She underestimates Shelby many a time and it was satisfying to see Shelby challenge Florence’s misconceptions, because Shelby is brilliant. They end up being adorable together, even if their path isn’t smooth, and I enjoyed their happy ending.
The Writing Style
For a novella, this really packs a punch! If I had to sum it up in one word, it would definitely be FUN. Because, oh my goodness, did I ever have a ton of fun listening to this one. The dialogue and situations are often hilarious and the angst level is low from the beginning to the end.
Imagine my surprise and delight to realize that the narrator, J.A. Rock, is also Jill Smith, one of my all-time favourite narrators! And damn, did she ever knock this one out of the park. Seriously, I just want to listen to her read all the time, because she captures characters so well and always keeps my attention.
In addition to everything I’ve already mentioned, I appreciated the way The Belle vs the BDOC highlights that there’s no one true way to be a lesbian. Florence makes a big deal about not believing Shelby is a lesbian, even though Shelby is actually a gold-star (aka, has never slept with a dude). Florence, on the other hand is not a gold star, which Shelby flings back at her in one of their “how can I not be lesbian enough for you???” conversations. I haven’t seen this theme addressed that overtly very often and I liked how it was handled.
This is not a con as much as a heads up. There’s a sample for another book at the end, but it’s a m/m book, so readers here may not be into in that.
The Belle vs the BDOC is a quick, funny, sweet read. It would be perfect for passing an afternoon. I hope Amy Jo Cousins writes more f/f books because I enjoyed this one so much and I’ll just have to settle for rereading it in the meantime.
Excerpt from The Belle vs the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins
Throwing her shoulders back and pasting a big smile on her face, [Shelby] waited, strategically, until the song trailed off and then made her approach.
Someone at the table was wearing too much patchouli—although Shelby really thought that any patchouli was too much, and stuck to her Clinique Happy, because even the name had a good attitude—and no one even looked at her, which was how she knew they were ignoring her on purpose because her boobs were spilling out of her sundress like nobody’s business.
Her cup runneth’d the heck over.
A friendly greeting would’ve been nice, but she’d learned Northerners were way stingier with their howdys and hellos.
“Do y’all have room for one more?” Shelby asked. But before she could deliver her line about being a ringer on U.S. history and absolutely anything involving the presidents, Florence set her beer down on the table and leaned back in her seat, one leg crossed elegantly across the other, foot resting on her knee.
“Sorry, honey. You’re cute but we’re the Cunning Linguists,” Shelby’s walking wet dream said, imitating her with a terrible southern drawl like Darryl Hannah in Steel Magnolias. Shelby wanted to be insulted, but wasn’t sure if she was being flirted with or not. Florence pointed at the paper table tent with the team’s name on it and then waved across the room at the table of Tri Delts who had set up shop next to the Chi Si guys. “You want the sorority girls over there. Or you can hook up with the boys, I guess. They’ll like your idea of privacy.”
So, that was a not on the flirting question.
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Bits and Bobs
- AISN number: B01G3ZORTU
- Publisher: Indie author
- Audiobook Publisher: Amy Jo Cousins
- Narrator: J.A. Rock
- Amy Jo Cousins Online
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