In Her Court by Tamsen Parker is a gem that I’m so glad I stumbled across. I actually read it when I was taking a break from my review consideration list, and then I loved Van and Willa so much that I just had to write a review so I could let you all know about it!
Willa’s summer break seriously sucks. She should be out doing fieldwork after finishing the first year of her geology PhD, but a collapse at the cavern she was scheduled to work in means she’s stuck with nothing to do. When her older brother, Nate, breaks his leg and asks her to take his spot for the rest of the summer as a tennis instructor at an adult sleepaway camp, it’s a no brainer. Except his cabin roommate is his best friend Evangeline “Van” Thompson, AKA Willa’s childhood crush, leaving Willa equal parts excited and nervous.
After a painful first year as a computational biophysics professor, Van was looking forward to putting the tenure track out of her mind while spending the summer with her best friend as the IT manager for Camp Firefly Falls. The last thing she needs is for Nate to leave and stick her with keeping an eye on his little sister. When Willa shows up, though, Van can’t deny how grown up and gorgeous Willa is. Even worse, Willa’s smart, driven, and hard working, which hits all of Van’s attraction buttons and makes the introverted Van clam up almost completely.
It’s sure to be the most awkward summer ever until the camp owners throw Van and Willa together to plan activities for the camp’s last week. Who knew a little 80’s nostalgia could be just the ticket to getting them talking and so much more?
Van is the ultimate geek girl, worshipping Holtzmann of the new Ghostbusters movie (who can blame her!?), and having brought much of her Star Wars and Wonder Woman collectibles with her to Camp Firefly Falls. She comes across as gruff and unfriendly with Willa when she’s actually guarded and nervous. In addition to dealing with an inappropriate crush on her best friend’s sister, Van is wrestling with complicated feelings about having worked her ass off to get her dream job only to discover that she actually hates it. Watching her open up to Willa is totally adorable and I liked where her character arc took her at the end of the book.
Willa shows up at Camp Firefly Falls with her own issues. She’s disappointed about her fieldwork being cancelled and losing out on experiences her fellow students are having. She’s also questioning her place in academia, having long been perceived by others as a jock thanks to her tennis scholarship in college. Getting to bunk with Van seems like a prime opportunity to talk to a new professor about her concerns. Except Van’s one-word answers don’t help anything—her concerns about becoming a professor or her crush that’s way more than a decade old. I enjoyed every moment I spent with Willa while reading In Her Court because she’s such a genuine, lovely person.
The subtleties to Willa and Van’s character growth, both individually and as a couple, are wonderful. The attraction and tension between them is palpable, and they have chemistry that’s off the charts. They’re a joy to read about and I found myself rooting for them on every page of the book.
The Writing Style
In Her Court has an engaging, highly readable style to it that makes it so much fun to read. I finished reading it a few days before drafting this review and I’m already thinking about when I can read it again.
I listened to the audio version 10 months after reading this book for the first time, and it made me fall in love with it even more! Jill Smith was the perfect person to bring Van and Willa to life and she did a great job of differentiating all of the characters, including those who weren’t the leads. She made the funny parts funnier and the sexy parts sexier and I adored everything from the first minute to the last.
I loved everything about this book. It’s sexy, funny, sweet, and has characters I fell head over heels for. And even even better in audio, if that’s your preferred way to consume stories!
This isn’t a con about this book as much as it’s a heads up about the series it’s a part of. If you go to buy In Her Court on Amazon (or wherever), you’ll see that it’s book 18 in the Camp Firefly Falls series. The books are written by a bunch of different authors, and this is the only one by Tamsen Parker, plus it’s the only lesbian romance of the bunch. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read any of the others because it 100% stands alone, but I didn’t want anyone thinking there were 17 other f/f romances by Tamsen Parker that they could enjoy in the series.
In Her Court was a happy surprise for me. It’s very reasonably priced, it’s adorable, and it’s truly one of the most fun books I read last year. This is the first lesbian romance that Tamsen Parker has released and I hope she writes many, many more!
Excerpt from In Her Court by Tamsen Parker
Van’s Chucks crunched down the path; she’d timed her trip to the dining lodge very carefully. After lunch had begun—so she’d be unlikely to catch Willa on the court and have to endure the torture of seeing her crush at Willa’s most attractive—but also not so late that she would miss out on the best selections. Over the past week or so, she’d perfected her timing.
Unfortunately, Willa’s behavior was far more erratic than Van’s own and the cursed woman had foiled her plans once again. There she was, bouncing on the balls of her feet, waiting to receive her opponent’s serve. And when it came, there she went, moving at some crazy speed that should’ve been beyond a human. It jolted something inside Van and she nearly tripped over her own feet.
Really, what else was she supposed to do when a sudden fantasy of her biggest crush cosplaying as Wonder Woman seized her as effectively as the golden lasso? Dammit. Of course Willa’s opponent—who it seemed was actually Heather—couldn’t get to her return because Willa was insane, so she wasn’t distracted enough by playing not to notice Van.
No, instead, she stood there, gold tendrils of hair that had escaped from her high ponytail curling around her exertion-pinked face, and waved. “Hey, Van.”
Not even trusting her own voice, Van waved in what she hoped was a perfectly normal way and then looked down at her feet so she wouldn’t trip on a rock and face-plant in front of Willa. Also, she didn’t want to be too late to lunch because there were lobster rolls today, and Meg made killer lobster rolls. A balm made out of arthropod, mayo, celery, and a buttered roll. If anything could soothe the rawness from her plan not working and having to interact with Willa unexpectedly, it would be that.
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- ISBN number: 9781547105663
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