Annie McLean had been considering selling her struggling book shop until she got a better offer—share the space with a second location of the popular Pink Bean coffee shop. The joint venture has worked beautifully and business is more brisk than it’s ever been before. Now if she could get her crush on Pink Bean owner Kristin under control, life would be a lot simpler. But what harm can a crush do, really? It’s not like Annie’s wife, Jane, needs to know.
Jane Quinn is a popular lesbian romance author who would win the introversion Olympics if they existed. Routine is paramount to her writing process, and the noise and bustle downstairs in the shop has made it impossible for her to get into a rhythm for weeks. Taking a break from writing is a relief and she spends more time down in the shop, but everything comes to a head when she sees the way Annie looks at Kristin.
Annie and Jane are not your typical lesbian romance leads. For starters, they’re already married to each other. And secondly, Jane is 45 and Annie is 57. It’s so refreshing to see some of the realistic challenges they faced, like attraction to someone who isn’t your wife and the physical effects of perimenopause. Even more refreshing was seeing an explicit sex scene with a character who’s nearing 60. Seriously, brava to Harper Bliss, because we need more characters like these in lesfic.
For fans of the Pink Bean series, you’ll be happy to hear that we get to spend more time with Mia, Caitlin, Kristin and Sheryl, with brief cameos from the rest of the ladies. No Other Love truly is a standalone book, though, so while it’s fun to revisit favourite characters from previous installments, it’s not necessary to have read them.
The Writing Style
Yet again, Harper Bliss has shown us that she’s the queen of romance novels that don’t strictly follow the genre’s formulas or conventions. It’s difficult to choose tags for this book because it’s not really a second chance romance, what with Jane and Annie not having split up. Even so, Bliss takes us on an emotional journey as she explores what it can look like to fall in love with your wife all over again, even when you already love her, and in the face of complications like a changing body or an active imagination.
I’m a big fan of Angela Dawe’s narration, so I wasn’t surprised to enjoy her performance for this book. She differentiates characters well, brings fun energy to the fun parts and makes the hard feelings in the difficult parts palpable. Like the other books in this series, she narrates about Australians in an American accent, but I’d rather that than a bad Australian accent anyway. If you prefer listening to books over reading an ebook or paperback, I’d recommend picking this one up for sure.
Everything about this book worked for me.
Some people may shy away from the premise, what with Annie’s crush on Kristin. I’d say it’s worth a try anyway, because it’s a beautiful book and it’s gentler than I would have guessed.
I enjoyed No Other Love. It’s a worthy entry in the Pink Bean series and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a romance with older characters or who wants to read a lesfic book that’s a little out of their usual contemporary romance bounds.
Excerpt from No Other Love by Harper Bliss
“You’re going to do what?” Annie asked. She’d just arrived back at the shop and Jane had sat there smirking in the most peculiar way before delivering the news of the book signing, which would take place next week. Jane was usually the type to only plan things if she had at least a month to prepare—and fret—over them.
“And here I was expecting you to be pleased,”Jane said, still sporting a grin.
“Oh, I am. Don’t mistake my confusion for anything less than being utterly pleased. I’m just a tad surprised.”
“Good to hear I can still surprise you after all these years.” Jane drew her lips into a pout. “I didn’t sell many books though.”
“No Jane Quinn fans about on a Thursday afternoon?”
“It must be the day they all stay in to read.”
Annie scooted closer to her wife, curved an arm around her waist and pulled her close. A twinge of guilt tore through her for allowing herself that fantasy in the pool. Jane seemed to be in a chipper mood. Maybe she should say something after closing time. They’d promised each other honesty and, most of all, understanding about these things. It didn’t have to be much of a problem, just something that happened to people in a long-term relationship. And perhaps talking about her attraction to Kristin would take away some of its power, like they said in some of the self-help books Annie stocked. But Annie didn’t know how to start this particular conversation. Not just yet. And perhaps by the time she did know, she’d be long over this silly infatuation.
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Beneath the Surface
Few Hearts Survive
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9789887801320
- Publisher: Ladylit Publishing
- Audiobook Publisher: Tantor Audio
- Narrator: Angela Dawe
Harper Bliss Online
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Note: I received a free review copy of No Other Love by Harper Bliss. No money was exchanged for this review.