Not The Marrying Kind by Jae is a sweet, friends to lovers romance set in a small town. It’s about having the courage to live your truth and move past what’s comfortable so that your heart is free to love without reservation.

Ashley Gaines has been Fair Oaks’ golden girl since her days as head cheerleader and girlfriend to the high school quarterback. She owns the town’s only flower shop, and to her family and the nosey townsfolk, she is the most eligible bachelorette around. Although Ashley is living the life that is expected of her, she is miserable. While staying in the closet seems like the safest thing to do, it makes for a very isolated and lonely personal life.

Sasha Peterson owns the local bakery, and she is completely comfortable living as an out and proud pansexual even if most of the town has no idea what that means. She hasn’t given much thought to being in a relationship because she is too busy with her business.

With the town’s first lesbian wedding coming up, Ashley and Sasha are required to work together to help pull off the perfect event. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that there is an undeniable attraction going on between them. Ashley has to decide if Sasha is worth risking her carefully constructed image to come out as a lesbian and go after what her heart is so desperately craving.

The Characters

Victoria: Ashley Gaines is quite the complex character. She is so far in the closet that she could be in Narnia. She is terrified that her parents and the residents of Fair Oaks will figure out that she is a lesbian, she practically jumps at her own shadow. At times, it’s heartbreaking to watch her live in such fear. However, there is a sweetness to her underneath her carefully controlled façade that shines through when she is around Sasha. Ashely is skittish enough throughout most of the book that it keeps the story from becoming too predictable. She wants to love and be loved in return without reservation, and I found that deeply moving. I enjoyed watching her confidence grow, along with her self-acceptance.

Sasha Peterson is endearing from the moment she is introduced. She is a gentle giant. Standing six feet tall with broad shoulders and strong arms, she is physically imposing, but underneath she is a big teddy bear. She is entirely at ease with who she is, and she consistently provides Ashley with a safe space to be herself. That’s Sasha’s biggest draw. She is generous with her heart, and she’s the type of friend who can always be counted on. She has just enough heartache in her past to keep her from coming off as one-dimensional, and her relationship with Ashley is complicated enough to shake up her easy-going demeanor.

Tara: Victoria nailed it with these characters, so I want to give a resounding “ditto” to everything she said.

In terms of my impressions, I found Sasha a lot easier to like and much of that is that she’s kind, funny, and stands up for herself. What’s not to love?

It took me longer with Ashley, because she’s so closeted and she keeps everyone at arm’s length. There wasn’t a lot of warmth there at first because she’s so cautious. That gets better over time, thank goodness, and I liked her character arc.

The Writing Style

Victoria: I’ve read enough from Jae to expect solid writing, an adroitly paced plot, effectively developed characters, and just the right amount of sexy bits. Not The Marrying Kind is no exception to this rule.

The story moves back and forth between Ashley’s and Sasha’s points of view. This is my preferred writing style when I’m reading romance novels because I like to know what each character is going through as the story progresses.

Tara: I found the style easy to get into, since there’s no real angst, other than the question of whether Ashley can ever come out. It’s Not the Marrying Kind is a gentle, smalltown story with a super slow burn to the romance. Also, I enjoyed the “only one bed” tropey goodness later in the book that feels like an homage to Curious Wine.

The Narration

Tara: The narration is fabulous. I’m a big fan of Angela Dawe and I was very happy to have her read this to me.

The Pros

Victoria: Not The Marrying Kind is a real treat for Jae fans. Not only does this story take place in the same small town as her book, Perfect Rhythm, but the lead characters from her book Damage Control make an appearance. I always think it’s fun when authors link the worlds of their books.

Tara: I agree with Victoria on this one too! The highlight for me was catching up with characters I’ve enjoyed before, especially Grace and Lauren.

The Cons

Victoria: I may be overly sensitive to this issue, but the word “lame” is used a handful of times by the characters when describing their behavior as stupid or awkward. It’s a term that is subtly ableist and may be offensive to some readers. The word is never used in a malicious way, but it still jumped out at me each time I came across it.

Tara: In addition to what Victoria said, I’d also call out that there’s homophobia in the book. It didn’t bother me, but this is one of those “your mileage may vary” things. I could see some readers feeling like it validates their experience or feel like it hits a little too close to home.

The Conclusion

Victoria: This is one of those books that left me with that, “Aww,” feeling. Being a romance, it promised I would get my happily ever after, but I still got wrapped up in the will-they-won’t-they drama. Sitting down to read this was like putting on my favorite sweater (that’s jumper for those of you outside the States). It’s warm, comfortable, and familiar. As always, Jae delivers a story that reinforces the belief that there’s someone out there for everyone.

Tara: I enjoyed Not the Marrying Kind, particularly in audio. It clocks in at more than 12 hours, making it longer than the usual lesfic, so it would be a great choice if you want to sink into something a little longer. Damage Control still takes it for my favourite book by Jae ever, but I’m glad I listened to this.

Excerpt from Not The Marrying Kind by Jae

They rode in silence for a while.

When Sasha braked at the town’s only traffic light, she glanced over at Ash. “It’s really great that they’re getting married, isn’t it?”

Ash nodded.

“I’m so happy Holly finally found someone who understands and accepts her. Not like those assholes she dated before.”

A wave of heat shot up Ash’s chest and made her cheeks burn. She clutched the door handle so tightly that her fingers started to cramp. Was that why Sasha had offered her a lift? So she could finally get her long-held resentment off her chest and accuse her of treating Holly like shit? “Listen.” She tried to speak very calmly, but her voice came out sounding like crunching gravel. “I know you don’t like me because you think I’m one of those assholes. But what happened between Holly and me is complicated and, frankly, none of your business. So can we please forget about it and just work together like two professionals?”

Sasha stared at Ash. Her jaw moved up and down, but it took several seconds until any words came out. “You…Holly…you were…together? You…you’re gay?”

Now it was Ash’s turn to stare. She pressed her trembling hand to her stomach. Nausea gripped her. “Oh my God. You mean, you didn’t know?” Sasha slapped the steering wheel with both hands.

“No! I had no fucking idea!”

They sank against the backs of their seats. “Holy shit,” they said in unison.

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Fair Oaks series

Perfect Rhythm

Not The Marrying Kind

Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9783963241963
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing
  • Audiobook Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • Narrator: Angela Dawe
  • Jae Online

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Note: I received a free review copy of The Marrying Kind by Jae. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site

About the author

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Victoria is a native of Southern California where she lives with her fantastic family. Victoria traded in a career in the television and film industry to become a speech therapist to work with special needs kiddos like her younger daughter. Her passions include film history, Cate Blanchett, neckties, dismantling the patriarchy, and Cate Blanchett. She doesn’t eat mushrooms because they are gross and She prefers dark over milk chocolate. Victoria never leaves the house without her Kindle and she will work for books.

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Tara Scott lives in Calgary, Canada with her family. If you don't find her with her Kindle in her hand, she's probably busy talking about what she's currently reading.