Trish Carter is still figuring out her new normal. After eight years of building a life together, her girlfriend had ended their relationship, saying that she didn’t love Trish anymore. Now Trish is slowly changing the things she doesn’t like about their house, considering getting a cat, and trying to figure out what’s next.
Starting a new job at the university library near her in Melbourne feels like another step in her fresh start, and she soon finds herself intrigued by an older student. When they start to get to know each other and build a friendship, Trish learns that June Williams is not a student, and actually teaches a class, making her a little less off-limits than Trish had originally thought.
Trish isn’t ready or interested in a relationship, so she turns down June’s invitation to go on a date. Still, Trish is intrigued by the project that has June working away in the stacks every day. She’s writing a book about romantic friendship in the 18th and 19th centuries, challenging the idea that these women were keeping things strictly nonsexual even as they were holding hands on the regular and “passionately declaring their love for one another” in letters. In a moment of who even knows what, June and Trish strike a pact to try out this kind of friendship, which means that hugging, cuddling, and cheek kisses are okay, but making out is off the list. Can a friendship like this really work, especially when their feelings grow? And what about when Trish’s past comes calling?
I am team June, one hundred percent. She’s brilliant and kind, and I love how driven she is by her project, working tirelessly at it even though she’s likely to make little (if any) money from it. It was also sweet to see how she is with Trish, never pushing beyond what she’s ready for in their friendship or their eventual romantic relationship.
Trish… I have mixed feelings about. I liked her for more than half of the book and really sympathized with her and what she’d been through. And then—remember that part above about her past coming calling? I didn’t like how she handled most of that and June deserved way better. Thankfully, she did a very good job of making it up to June and it all added up to the growth that Trish needed so she could complete her journey to her new self.
The Writing Style
The pacing was a bit slow for me at times, but overall I found it a really enjoyable read. June and Trish have fabulous chemistry and every scene where they interacted with each other was well done.
I love the premise of testing out a romantic friendship! It’s such a cute idea and I think it was executed in a way that was believable and sweet.
Like I mentioned above, I hated how passive Trish was in parts of it, and the pacing could have been tighter.
Like a Book is Bette Hawkins’s second book and it has a lot of good things going for it (especially June!). If you enjoy contemporary romances, especially those set in Australia, you should check this one out. I look forward to seeing what’s next from this author.
Excerpt from Like a Book by Bette Hawkins
June’s eyes didn’t leave hers, and Trish’s pulse hammered. To say the least, this was not what she’d expected.
“What are you saying?” Trish asked.
“Why don’t we just try it? A romantic friendship? What have we got to lose?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I want to try it. I’ve been so critical of the idea, but you were right when you said there are all different kinds of relationships. What if we just try to make it our own thing? We agree that we just stay friends, but we can be physical with one another if that’s what we want. I’m not talking about sex. But if we feel like hugging, holding hands, whatever, we agree that’s okay?”
“What do you get out of it, though? It sounds like I get to have what I want, but what do you get?”
Wouldn’t it be terribly selfish to take what June was offering, when she had made it clear that she wanted more? Still, the idea was so tempting, Trish couldn’t imagine rejecting it. She wanted to be held by June, to be near her and to be touched by her. And June was forthright; if she said this was what she wanted then shouldn’t Trish take her at her word?
“Maybe the same things you’re getting. A close friendship. As a bonus, I get to be honest with you. I can tell you if I think you look especially pretty or if I like what you’re wearing. Things I’d hold back from if I had to be concerned with being appropriate, whatever that means. Tell me what you think.”
“I think if we’re going to do that we have to negotiate an agreement,” Trish said.
“That sounds like a good idea. Work out the boundaries so they don’t get blurred. Here,” June said, opening a new document on her laptop. “I’ll even type it up so it’s official.”
Trish stared at the laptop screen. This was one of the strangest conversations she’d ever had.
“Can I stipulate that we keep this to ourselves? I’m not sure other people would understand.”
There was a reason Trish had suggested this condition first. Not only was the idea of anyone else knowing embarrassing, she couldn’t imagine how she’d ever explain it to a third party.
June agreed, typing it in as the first bullet point. “What are the physical boundaries for you?” June asked, glancing at Trish’s lips.
“Well, I don’t think we should be kissing. Not on the lips, anyway.”
“Chaste kissing only. I’m putting in that touching over the clothes is fine, and if someone’s getting too close we need to have a safe word.”
Trish giggled. “A safe word? This is weird. Coffee.”
“So weird you know exactly what to pick, huh? Coffee it is. Coffee means back off. Is there anything I’m not allowed to say to you?”
“I don’t know, say I want to use a term of endearment. Call you honey or baby.”
“I didn’t realize you were the pet name type.”
“Well now you know, sugar tits,” June replied.
Trish laughed. “Okay, you can call me whatever you want.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781594936036
- Publisher: Bella Books
Bette Hawkins Online
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