There are things I love about it and things that frustrated me, but ultimately I was glad I stuck with it all the way to the end.
Charlie Cross is a successful novelist, newly transplanted from New York to LA so she can consult on her book’s adaption into a TV show. Her best friend, Nick, loves to tease her about her dating rules because from now on, she will only ever date someone who is 100% lesbian for the rest of her life, no exceptions. It’s been months since her ex left her for a man, and she just can’t risk her heart on someone who isn’t completely committed to only loving women.
When Nick’s husband is busy, he takes Charlie as his plus one for a dinner party hosted by none other than her bigtime crush, Ava Castaneda. Ava is the gorgeous, charming host of a popular cooking competition show, and even though she’s straight, she sure seems interested in Charlie. Except, the more time Charlie spends with Ava, the more Ava flirts with Charlie. It’s not long before Charlie learns Ava is bisexual, but can she possibly take a risk on someone who isn’t 100% lesbian?
Charlie was infuriating for such a huge portion of the book that I almost stopped reading it several times. Her rule about only ever dating someone who was completely lesbian was beyond obnoxious, but I appreciated that Charlie’s friends teased her mercilessly about it. I’ve also read enough Harper Bliss *cough*everything*cough* that I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt where I would have bailed on another author, and I’m glad I stuck with it. Charlie’s rule is there for a less obvious reason that it takes a while for her to understand, and her come to Jesus experience is powerful and beautiful.
Release the Stars is told entirely from Charlie’s perspective, so we don’t get to learn as much about Ava. However, we do see through her interactions with Charlie that she’s beautiful, passionate, playful, and not afraid of grand gestures, even if they mean outing herself thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and social media. She’s no pushover, including with her ex, Eric. I so loved seeing her put him in his place when he was being a jealous jerk.
I don’t want to ruin anything, but Jo, the traitor ex, and her boyfriend, Christian, were wonderfully used in a pivotal scene.
The Writing Style
After putting out reams of short stories, novellas, and serial novels, I’m happy to see that Harper Bliss has well and truly tackled the full length novel form. The writing is clean and engaging, the story is paced well, and the sex writing is just as hot as you’d expect from Ms. Bliss.
Alexandra Shawnee does a solid job of narrating this book. Her voice is a choice for delivering Charlie’s story, and if you prefer listening to books over reading them, Release the Stars would be a good choice.
The friends and supporting cast in Release the Stars is excellent. Charlie has a major, hard earned change. Ava is just wonderful. Also, it has one of the better lesfic covers I’ve seen in a long time.
As I’ve already said above, Charlie can be difficult to take before she wakes up to her issues.
If you like stories from Harper Bliss, you’ll probably like this book. If you just generally like sexy contemporary romances, you’ll also probably like this book. I’m glad I stuck it out, because I was very happy with how it ended.
Excerpt from Release the Stars by Harper Bliss
Charlie expelled a sigh. “What I’m looking for in a woman is really very straightforward. Someone out and proud and secure enough in her sexuality to not leave me for a man. Personally, I think my wish list is quite fair, but someone like Nick, for instance, never fails to give me a hard time about it. He claims I’m too rigid with my requirement that a woman be completely lesbian. He thinks I’m afraid and looking for excuses.”
“And already, even after only one kiss, you’re convinced that, if we were to embark on… something, I would leave you for a man in the end?” Ava narrowed her eyes. She didn’t say anything else.
“It’s certainly a possibility.” Charlie looked into the remains of her coffee. “And once it’s in my head, it’s there to stay.” She cut her glance to Ava. “Besides, why would someone like you be interested in someone like me?”
“What do you mean ‘someone like you’?” Ava put her mug down.
“You’re an ex-model. You’re on TV. You could have anyone you wanted, really.”
“But not you.” Ava made it sound like a statement, not a question. “I make my living by how I look, Charlie. I might have picked up some cooking and presenting skills along the way, but if I’m being truly honest, all the success I’ve had in my life is based on my appearance. You, on the other hand, have this amazing mind out of which the most beautiful sentences are born. I find that extremely attractive.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9789881420558
- Publisher: Ladylit Publishing
- Audiobook Publisher: Tantor Audio
- Narrator: Alexandra Shawnee
Harper Bliss Online
Note: I received a free review copy of this book for review. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books honestly.