Exception to the Rule by Cindy Rizzo is a new adult romance where unlikely friends take their time to become lovers. It’s a sweet story that’s a great example of how romance novels can highlight important social issues while delivering a satisfying happily ever after.
Robin Greene is starting a creative writing degree in Boston so she can work with a respected author, but she doesn’t want to leave her queer homeless friends behind in New York City. Positive she’ll be the only lesbian, she’s relieved to make friends with Angie, another student who’s from Boston. She could do without Tracy, the stereotypically gorgeous Southern belle in their dorm, but at least she has one friend who understands her. It doesn’t matter how pretty Tracy is—like she and her friend Ty say, no more princesses.
Tracy Patterson is used to hiding her true self. She’s known she’s gay for a long time, but hid her affairs with older women behind a fake relationship with her best friend, Brett. It’s a relief to be away from North Carolina, and by befriending the two out lesbians in her dorm, Angie and Robin, she also finds a freedom in choosing to be herself. As she and Robin get to know each other better, things get confusing when she finds herself attracted to someone her own age for a change.
The character work is good overall, but I especially liked Tracy and how much she changes. She’s pulled between all of the typical expectations of a beautiful blonde in the South and her desire to live openly as a lesbian. At the beginning of the book, she’s having a fling with her mother’s best friend, who serves as an example of who Tracy could become if she follows the life her parents have planned for her. Despite her baby steps towards openness by becoming friends with Robin and Angie, it’s when she acknowledges and embraces her feelings for Robin that she properly grabs hold of the life she wants.
Robin doesn’t change nearly as much as Tracy, but she doesn’t need to. She’s out and has the full support of her parents. Despite her brash exterior, she has a tender heart, caring deeply for her friends and carrying their stories everywhere with her. She’s typically only interested in casual sex, but I loved how she puts her heart on the line for Tracy.
Angie was great as the sidekick best friend and I’m excited to see she has her own book. Tracy’s friends Brett and Josh are also excellent side characters, supporting her in any way she needs.
The Writing Style
Exception to the Rule is well written and easy to read. Most of the book takes place in the early 90s and gave me warm, nostalgic feelings from when I was in high school and early university.
I particularly appreciate the way Cindy Rizzo wove in LGBT youth homelessness. Robin’s friends might be characters, but the stories of how they ended up on the street and how they are treated by police and the public are very real. She manages to make important points about how society and our social systems aren’t doing enough for these kids without ever getting overly heavy.
Great characters, good pacing, good story, and a satisfying romance.
I can’t think of anything.
I enjoyed Exception to the Rule and recommend it to anyone who likes new adult romances.
Excerpt from Exception to the Rule by Cindy Rizzo
“I was corrupted long before I met you, Charlie.”
“Oh yeah? What’s the most corrupt thing you’ve done in your young life?”
Tracy stopped pacing. “Hmm, let’s see. So many to choose from. How does sleeping with my mothers’ best friend, a forty-something-year-old married woman, sound?”
Charlie coughed into the phone. His voice came out in a squeak.
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Well then have another Cosmo, sweetheart. I no longer have any qualms about corrupting you.”
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Bits and Bobs
- AISN number: B00GW5ILF8
Cindy Rizzo Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Exception to the Rule by Cindy Rizzo for review. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.