Perfect Rhythm by Jae is a wonderful story that provides a beautiful representation for the asexual community. Even if you don’t know or don’t understand what Asexual is, it illustrates that even two people who identify differently in their sexuality can find common ground and build a loving, passionate relationship.
Leontyne “Leo” Blake sings about love to millions of fans every night. Personally, she has lost all belief that love exists anymore. As a pop star, the women Leo meet either want her money, her fame, or her image. Not the real Leo. When Leo learns her father has a stroke, she sees it as an opportunity to take time away from the spotlight and hide out in her tiny Missouri hometown.
Holly Drummond has been caring for Leo’s father for the past year and half. When Leo shows up after being away for years, Holly sees the surface that every other woman has seen in the past. She isn’t swayed by Leo’s charm or fame, and has every intention of letting Leo know as such.
Leo has never had a woman not fall for her charms, until Holly. While this should put Leo off, it actually draws her closer to Holly. But Holly isn’t like other women. She is asexual and has sworn off dating to avoid landmines of expectations she cannot fulfill for her partners. The more time Leo spends with Holly, the more the two women discover that maybe their expectations are more mutual than the other thinks. Can these two women develop a lasting relationship or will the expectations be too much for either to commit to?
What I love most about these characters is that they are so different yet so similar in how they approach certain issues in their lives. Namely how they view physical intimacy. It’s so key to who they are as people that if it wasn’t there, I feel it would be difficult to have them find commonality.
Leontyne, known as Jenna Blake to her fans, is a pop star who is just burnt out from “living the dream.” She’s tired of being told what to do and when to do it. And love isn’t in the picture because all the women she dates want Jenna, not Leo. Even sex isn’t as appealing as it used to be. I feel this was a very deliberate portrayal by Jae because it allows Leo to really be patient and understanding when she learns of Holly’s asexuality. It gives her a similar view of sex that Holly has. Leo has had enough of the empty sexual encounters with women who only want Jenna. And while she is charmed by Holly and wants a relationship with her, sex isn’t part of her agenda. This is a really great characteristic because she can shed the Jenna personae and just be Leo again. And Leo is charming, charismatic, and so different from Jenna. It’s a distinction that is important for the character to have.
Holly is the complete embodiment of what small-town living is like. She is so warm, caring, and it makes her very loveable by the people in her life. I love how Jae lets Holly internalize her feelings regarding her asexuality and how it helps/hinders her attraction to Leo. She’s obviously nervous about letting Leo know this about her, but not because she’s ashamed. It is because she is worried that the expectations from Leo may be too much. Jae gives a unique view of sex and expectations from both women and it’s beautiful to watch it develop the story and the characters. In the end, Holly is the perfect match for Leo, and both women have their expectations met in ways neither expected.
The Writing Style
This is typical Jae writing. It’s very smart and very informative. Jae gives a lot of depth to Leo, Holly, and the people in their lives. She also goes out of her way to make sure that the reader understands exactly what “asexual” means and how a person identifies that way. Holly is a great representation of a portion of the asexual community. While there are other types (as there are different types of lesbians), she was wise to choose this specific type. The reader learns about this group and really get a sense that being asexual is not a choice, just like being any part of the LGBTQA is not a choice. It’s who we are.
I really love how Jae allows the reader to gain intellectual awareness and information on exactly what asexuality is and who it represents. All the information given is offered in a way that the reader is able to absorb along with the story without feeling like they’re being instructed. It’s very organic, and that is one of the main qualities I love from this story – being educated and becoming knowledgeable about another group of people that deal with the same issues as ourselves.
While I understand that the sex scene was written to let Leo and Holly physically express their feelings for each other, I honestly felt it wasn’t necessary. It was a beautifully written scene, but I was personally able to understand exactly what this act meant to both of them through their dialog. Overall, though, it was nice to see how each of them interpret “physical intimacy.” And watching the action unfold was nothing short of beautiful and fit each character perfectly.
Asexuality is hard for some people to understand. Unless you know someone who is asexual, or you’re asexual yourself, it is hard to fully grasp what that term really means. I feel this book gives clarification by telling an amazing story with an asexual protagonist, and gives the asexual community the representation it so rightly deserves.
Excerpt from Perfect Rhythm by Jae
The last thing Holly was focused on at the moment was the piano. Sharing this with Leo was too confusing. There was something between them; she couldn’t deny that. She felt drawn to Leo in a way that might have seemed almost sexual to an observer, but to her, it wasn’t about sex. This was all about emotion.
Leo shuffled through her father’s sheet music, for the right one, and placed it in front of them.
Holly took a deep breath and then haltingly began to play the first notes, stumbling through the piece. God, this was awful. Her tempo was all off, and she had the dynamics of a robot.
Next to her, Leo’s fingers moved gracefully and without effort. It looked as if it came as easy to her as breathing. Wow. No wonder women were swooning when they watched Leo’s long fingers caress the neck of her guitar during concerts. If she weren’t asexual, she probably would too. As it was, her fantasies ended at those talented fingers giving her a massage or caressing her tenderly. Other people might have considered it foreplay, but for her it was the main course, an experience that was sensual rather than sexual.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9783955338626
- Publisher: Ylva Publishing
We received a review copy of this novel.