Forget It by Claire Highton-StevensonForget It by Claire Highton-Stevenson is a second chance romance that’s charming from beginning to end.

After a death in the family, Brooke Chambers gives up her career in the Army to move home and become a surrogate mother to her teenage sister. Brooke doesn’t mind stepping up, but in order to do so, she needs to get a job—any job—right now.

Taking advantage of the low prices during Happy Hour, Brooke heads over to Art, the local lesbian bar and meets Catherine. It’s a case of lust at first sight, and after a sizzling evening together and several follow-up dates, both women begin to feel like this relationship is the real thing.

Catherine Blake has experienced heartbreak. When a relationship with a coworker ended in a torrent of office gossip, including the release of intimate photos, she left the job she loved to escape the untenable work environment. Her new rule: no fraternization with fellow employees. She has put up such a severe wall between herself and the others in her workplace, it has earned her the moniker, Frosty Nickers.

Both women are caught off guard when Brooke turns up for a job interview and Catherine is the Human Resource coordinator presiding over the group discussion. Brooke is perfect for the security guard position. She’s over the moon when she gets the call from Catherine telling her she got the job, but her joy is short lived. When Brooke shows up for her first day, Catherine coolly informs her that she does not get involved with coworkers and that they should just appreciate their few weeks together for what they were: a flirtatious diversion. Despite her controlled demeanor, Catherine’s heart is breaking into a million pieces.

Both Brooke and Catherine are inconsolable. Brooke makes a series of attempts at winning Catherine back, but nothing works. Is there any circumstance in which they can have a second chance at love?

The Characters

Both Catherine and Brooke are genuinely likable characters and absolutely relatable. (Don’t roll your eyes at this cliché because it’s true.) I took to them right away, and I think they are a perfect match.

While Brooke’s disappointment over leaving the Army is great, she holds no resentment about becoming the primary caregiver for her younger sister. The love she has for Robin trumps everything else in her life. At her core, Brooke is kind above anything else. She is a confident young woman that approaches life with an optimism that touches everyone around her. When she first spots Catherine at the bar, sex is first and foremost on her mind. Soon, she realizes that Catherine is much more than a one-night stand, and she completely embraces the possibility of a serious relationship with the older woman. When Catherine abruptly ends their budding romance, my heart broke right along with Brooke’s. But, Goddess bless her, Brooke decides Catherine is meant to be hers, so she doubles her efforts to woo her aloof coworker, and she doesn’t give up, despite events that upend her world. Brooke is a sweetheart, and from the comfort of my sofa, I was cheering her on.

Highton-Stevenson cleverly gives the reader two versions of Catherine. First, we meet the sexy and alluring Catherine who makes Brooke’s jaw drop. In her classy attire and sexy heels, there’s not a lesbian with a heartbeat that wouldn’t be lining up to buy her a drink. Catherine can’t help but notice the hot, young butch that has been checking her out from the bar. For the first time in a long while, Catherine channels her inner vixen and seduces Brooke right into bed. The idea that Brooke was going to march full speed ahead straight into her heart never crossed Catherine’s mind. However, Catherine feels that special something, too. Around Brooke, Catherine is the fun-loving and open woman she was before her last relationship exploded into bits. For a glorious few weeks, she believes Brooke is the one. When Brooke suddenly becomes Catherine’s coworker, we meet Catherine 2.0. This Catherine is nothing like the woman we met at the beginning of the book. Her heart is safely locked away in a vault she has no intention of opening. At work, Catherine holds everyone at arm’s length. To be blunt, work Catherine is not nice and, at times, somewhat rude. Despite being lonely, she feels safer this way. It’s not easy watching her treat people unkindly, but I understood her motivations. When out of the blue she gets her second chance with Brooke, I thought, “Please, please, please, follow your heart.”

The Writing Style

This story is told in the third person from both Brooke’s and Catherine’s points of view. Highton-Stevenson does not spend a huge amount of time on backstory, which feels appropriate for this enchanting tale. The angst level is somewhat low, so there aren’t an excessive number of insurmountable events clouding the characters’ pasts.  I felt like I got enough insight into their characters to become invested in the possibility of a shared future for them.

The dialogue is clever in all the right places, and the touching moments are sincere and heartfelt. There are plenty of sexy bits, which we all know keep this reviewer happy.

I did not read the blurb for the book (I like to walk on the wild side sometimes.) so I was generally surprised with the twist that changes the trajectory of the plot. I kept that bit out of the synopsis, so you can get that unexpected, “Holy cow!” if you want it.

The Pros

Ah, teenagers. Brooke is raising her sister Robin, and Highton-Stevenson’s portrayal of a fifteen-year-old girl is spot on. The giggling, silliness, sarcasm, and naiveté come off as authentic, and I adored Robin, while at the same time wanted to sit her down and give her a good talking to.

The Cons

Nothing for me.

victorias favourite booksThe Conclusion

Forget It is a delightful romance. It’s a second chance romance featuring a butch/femme pairing. It’s set in the workplace, and there is a considerable age gap between the two main characters. One of the main characters is an ice queen, and the other has recently assumed the role of mother due to a death in her family. If this book could cook and give me foot massages, I’d say it’s my dream date. Normally, I like a lot more angst in my romances, but this book is so darned endearing, I didn’t need any high drama. If you’re planning a vacation and want something to read while poolside, sipping a colorful drink, this book is the perfect companion. What am I saying? This story makes for good reading under any circumstance.

Excerpt from Forget It by Claire Highton-Stevenson

Honey blonde hair framing a confident, very attractive and familiar face: the blonde from last week. She felt her insides tumble and flip.

“I would ask if you’d like a drink, but I see you already have one.” There was a slight twitch of her lip. Her eyes glanced down to the bottles in Brooke’s hands before they rose slowly to find Brooke’s dark and brooding orbs waiting. They found themselves locked in a battle of wills: who would look away first?

Brooke lost that battle. The overwhelming urge to look lower and check her out was undeniable. She was wearing the same heels, not too high but high enough to put them on the same level when she looked back up and found her eyes again piercing her very soul. Hazel green in colour, her eyes smiled when she did, tiny little laughter lines appeared at the corner. This close, she was simply stunning. She wore a simple black dress tonight. Muscular shoulders suggested that she swam, or worked out, maybe both. Not that it mattered to Brooke; there were plenty of exercise routines she could put her through in bed, she considered.

“Hi,” she said, amused. It would seem that she enjoyed the appraisal and began one of her own.

Brooke couldn’t help the grin that spread across her own face. “Hello,” she replied casually, though she felt anything but, and took a swig from her lager to stop herself from blurting out something ridiculous, like I love you. She held up the bottle, which she was still yet to drink from, and offered it to the still-anonymous woman.

A manicured hand reached out and took it. She twisted it around and examined the label.

“Thank you.” She must have approved because she brought it to her lips and took a mouthful, all the while keeping her eyes firmly on Brooke.

“I’m Brooke.”

Slowly, she pulled the bottle from her mouth. Her tongue slid leisurely across her lips, collecting the moisture, the move ending with a delicate bite of the plump lower lip. “Catherine,” she replied.

Brooke nodded. “Catherine.” She let the name play over her tongue, sounded out the syllables and heard it repeat inside her head. It was a good name and it suited her.

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