Maggie Rae-McInnis is happy in her twelve-year relationship with Addison and renting out the rooms in their large home in the Hollywood Hills. She does her best to be a nurturing presence in the lives of the women who live with her. Her one nagging fear is that her partner is not as happy as she is—and she is right. Addison is a hot mess. Though she loves Maggie, she feels something is missing. Addison settled down with Maggie at an age when other women were still frequenting clubs for a bit of short-term fun. So, when she meets Victoria Fontaine, a confident, sexy, and manipulative younger woman, she is swept into something new, exciting, and very dangerous.
Tess Rossini and Dusty Gardner, the couple’s closest friends and long-term tenants, face their own fears as they navigate the uncharted waters of love. Tess has suffered great heartbreak while Dusty has never allowed herself to be in a position to give her heart to any one woman. Is there any chance that these women who seem to be polar opposites can find a future together?
Eve Jacobs, the newest arrival, finds herself on a path of self-discovery. Can she take a leap of faith to leave part of her old life behind in order to embrace an uncertain future?
The love and friendship these women share make up the threads that weave together to form the resilient bonds that last a lifetime.
Maggie and Addison are the heart and soul of the house. Maggie is optimistic and grounded and provides all the women living in her home with the love and encouragement they don’t even know they need and deserve. Maggie is wise, and I admire how she is able to step outside of herself to examine what’s going on in her life. Maggie is the love of Addison’s life. Despite their 13 years together, Addison finds herself at odds with the stability she has with Maggie. Addison is confused and conflicted, and she ultimately makes poor choices that upend her and Maggie’s world. This plot line invites the reader to consider whether a terrible decision makes a character unequivocally bad or if it can provide a good character the opportunity they need to grow as an individual.
Tess and Dusty are my favorite characters. Both women are vulnerable but for different reasons. Just emerging from three years of grieving over the sudden death of her wife, Tess knows that it is time to start dating again. Her approach is thoughtful, mature, and somewhat trepidatious. Dusty has never been part of the dating scene. For her, “dating” is a series of hook-ups that never last longer than a couple of weeks. Not only has she never wanted more, but she has always reveled in her “bad girl” reputation. However, deep down, they both are longing to be loved and to experience true intimacy. Things change as they separately begin to realize that the feelings they have for each other extend beyond Tess’s bed. I loved watching Tess and Dusty battle their insecurities and fears to see if they could share a happily ever after.
Eve is the newest tenant in the house. She has sought refuge with Maggie and Addison while she figures out if her attraction to women is significant enough for her to leave her husband of ten years. She can’t even say the word “lesbian,” yet she knows that it’s time for her to begin living an authentic life. I felt so much compassion for Eve, especially because she has two young sons to take into consideration. Her naiveté is charming, and I couldn’t help but root for her.
The Writing Style
The first thing that struck me about this book is how skillfully Levig handles switching between five different points of view. I’ve read my fill of books told in third person where the author struggles with just two points of view. Each of the characters has a distinct voice that reflects her joys and struggles. The story is structured in such a way that there was never any confusion as to whose perspective I was inhabiting.
Levig masterfully handles the topic of infidelity. She shows the pain, anger, sadness, desperation, remorse, and forgiveness felt by the couple involved in a nuanced manner that I haven’t seen in any other book that tries to tackle this topic. She doesn’t just tell the reader what the two women are going through. She shows the reader how the betrayal and pain affect them in every aspect of their lives as well as how the other women living in their house are affected. (So, no, you will not see this in the Con section of this review.)
There is a metaphysical aspect to this book that, as my fellow reviewer K Aten would say, invited me to “think, feel, and discuss.” Never heavy-handed, it’s sprinkled throughout the story and gave me plenty of opportunities to ponder the “whys” behind life’s twists and turns. Oh, and the sex scenes are H-O-T.
In one of the plotlines, a character meets a woman and they fall in love in just a couple of weeks. This is something that for me, never rings true.
I really love this book, and it was a refreshing read because it is not a conventional romance. The story challenged me to consider several underlying beliefs which led to some very interesting dialogs in my head. I don’t think I’ve ever highlighted so many passages in a book so that I can return to them for further reflection. Even though the story is about a very unique cast of characters, it was easy for me to feel a shared connection with all of them. Sometimes, that connection was uncomfortable, but Levig presents these archetypes without judgement, so I could choose to do as little or as much introspection as I wanted. Having said all that, there is still plenty of love, romance, and yes, sex to check off those boxes as well.
Excerpt from Threads of the Heart by Jeannie Levig
“Tess?” Dusty said softly. “Can we talk about something?”
“Mmm.” Tess sounded sleepy. “What would you like to talk about?”
Dusty froze. Now that the door was open, what did she want to talk about?
What was her priority? The incident at Vibes seemed less important now that she could talk about anything at all. She could talk about how she thought she was falling in love with Tess, how Tess was the one changing her, how she was afraid everything would be ruined if she talked about anything at all. She could bring up how she wanted to know where Tess grew up, if she had brothers and sisters, if the woman who’d died had been her only partner in her life and how long they’d been together. She could tell Tess how she wanted to be the one to never let anything hurtful happen to her again.
“Uh, I dunno. I just want us to talk. I want there to be more to us than just sex. I mean, not that I mind the sex. I love sex with you. But I don’t think it’s just sex anymore.” Dusty paused. “You know what I mean?”
Tess remained quiet, her breathing even.
Dusty tensed. What was Tess thinking? Was she upset? She rushed on to explain. “I mean, I know we kinda agreed without really saying it that this would be just sex and that we wouldn’t tell anyone about it, but now…I think…Now, I…I think I might be in love with you.” There, she’d said it. She waited, her heart beating so furiously, like the wings of a frightened bird, she thought it might actually take flight right out of her chest.
Still no answer.
“Tess?” Dusty said finally. She eased back and looked down into Tess’s face. Her eyes were gently closed, the hand resting between Dusty’s breasts, relaxed. She slept peacefully.
Dusty watched her. This was probably better anyway. Tess wouldn’t want to know how Dusty felt. Feelings weren’t part of their arrangement. They were too different. What could possibly come of Dusty being in love with her? Besides, Dusty thought she loved Tess beyond words—it was just as well she couldn’t talk about it, to Tess or anyone else.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781626394105
- Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
- Jeannie Levig Online
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