Friday Night Flights by Susan X MeagherFriday Night Flights by Susan X Meagher is the story of Casey and Avery, women with a history that one wants to move past but the other is struggling to forget.

Casey Van Dyke has found her place in the world. She’s a successful brewmaster at a popular bar. She has friends and co-workers who appreciate and accept her. She lives in the country, surrounded by picturesque farmland but within easy driving distance of several trendy little towns. Though she’s lived in Hudson Valley all of her life, it feels a world away from high school where her learning disability caused others to mock her intelligence, and her butch style made her an outsider.

Avery Nichols is a single mother struggling to balance the needs of her baby Lisbet and her demanding job at a literary magazine. She has achieved many of her personal goals and has everything she thinks she wants, but it all seems to be crumbling, including her sanity. Avery has returned home because she’s desperate for help. She’s all but forgotten her high school days when she used to be far too passive, even when some of her friends bullied others.

Casey, who has always wanted a baby, is charmed by little Lisbet and immediately offers her assistance. Yet the pain of yesterday has marked Casey. She wants to trust Avery but can’t ignore that Avery stood by and did nothing when her friends bullied her.

Add to that the complication that Avery is attracted to Casey but wants to return to the big city to pick up where she left off.

Can they learn that their differences can be strengths and make peace with the past?

The Characters

Casey and Avery are very different people who have one shared objective: making sure Lisbet is happy, healthy and loved. Casey is affable and generous, with a lot of love in her heart that’s just been waiting for an outlet. Avery needs the electricity of her career, yet she wants to fully share her life with someone. She has a lot of ideas — which Casey slowly dismantles — about who that someone should be.

During the story, they slowly evolve from acquittances to friends, then linger on the tipping point between giving into something more and all the reasons they believe they shouldn’t. Their concerns are believable and well-developed, as are the characters themselves.

Casey’s story especially is one that so many young people need to hear. The tale of someone who has suffered the slings and arrows of being ridiculed by schoolmates and her own family, yet has learned to embrace who she is. As an adult, she is self-assured and a fantastic friend. Her love of children stems from what she was denied throughout her life, but she has channeled that pain in the best of ways.

Avery is battling the expectations she has for her life against the desire to be a good mother. At first, she is in survival mode. She’s slowly learns that both she and Lisbet need a lot of help. What do you do when your best isn’t enough? How do you forge a life for yourself and your child when you’re exhausted? Asking for help not only saves her, but it changes everything.

The Writing Style

This is a Slow Burn (note the capital S). The story shows the details of their lives — friends, families and careers. As a reader, you experience the characters learning who the other is, and only after they know that are they allowed to start to fall in love.

I have always been a fan of friends to lovers stories and, in this story, when they start out they aren’t even friends. The pacing of the book takes them through being distant acquaintances to being best friends.

The use of language is fun, as Avery with her literary mindset throws around words that will make even the most scholarly reach for a dictionary. I found myself grateful when Casey occasionally and with some bemusement asked for translations.

Meagher has been a force in lesbian fiction for years, and this story with its strong plot and clear, likable characters reiterates why.

The Pros

I can offer no larger compliment than to say that Casey and Avery felt real, and I was rooting for them both. I even got to a point where I thought. “you know, I’d almost be okay if they didn’t get together as long as they stay as close as they are.” Luckily this momentary insanity did not last, and I was quickly back to rooting for them to “kiss already.”

The Cons

As mentioned, this book delves into the details of the character’s lives. It was never unenjoyable, but sometimes it felt like much more detail was offered than was strictly needed. This may be a sticking point for those who prefer a sparser style. I should also mention that since a lot of the book is them getting to know one another, those hoping for sex early and often may need to broaden their expectations. The journey is well worth it.

The Conclusion

When I first started reading, what I loved about books was that I could sink into so many worlds that were different from my own. This book allows you to walk in Casey’s and Avery’s shoes.. Their worlds are simple yet engaging, and you fall a little in love with not only the characters but everything about their lives.

Excerpt from Friday Night Flights by Susan X Meagher

Lisbet straightened up her back and turned her head a little. “I think she’s trying to figure out who you are,” Avery said. “I assume she knows she’s been with you before, but it’s really hard to know what she thinks, you know?”

Casey supported the baby’s head in her hand and leaned her back so Lisbet could see her face. “I’m your friend, Casey,” she said, speaking slowly and softly. “You’re going to have lots and lots of friends, ’cause you’re awesome, but I think I’m your first non-related friend. Kind of neat, huh?”

Avery didn’t have the heart to tell her that Lisbet spent two days a week with five other infants who she probably considered part of her pack. But Casey was giving Lisbet such a tender look that she couldn’t help but put her hand on her arm and grip it gently. “She’ll be lucky to have friends like you.”

Casey met Avery’s eyes for a moment, looking like she was going to say something, then she turned away and focused on the baby again.

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About the author

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When I was a kid, I pretended I was a highly decorated jet fighter pilot in a multiplanet military organization. I flew my transforming spacecraft, rebelled against the insidious corruption within the quasi-space force, and won the girl of my dreams. Sadly, none of those things were actual career paths so I went into IT instead. All of the above, even the real-life stuff, was fueled by a love of reading. Books opened doors for me from an early age. They showed me possibilities, made me want to explore what the future could be, and offered me hope. Uber Gabrielle/Xena fanfic inspired by the show Xena: Warrior Princess changed my understanding of what love could look like.