The Words Shimmer by Jenn MatthewsThe Words Shimmer by Jenn Matthews is an enemies to lovers/friends to lovers mash up.

Ruby Clark is an anatomy professor at a Yorkshire university, and she is happy with her uncomplicated life. At least that’s what she thinks. She’s long since been divorced from her husband, and she delights in raising her two teenage daughters. After being late to a staff meeting where fundraising assignments are being doled out, she discovers she will be teaching a group of children the ins and outs of gardening. She knows everything about human anatomy, but gardening isn’t part of her skill set.

With her 50th birthday approaching, Melissa Jackson knows that being a paramedic is only going to get harder on her back and knees. She wants to stay in the emergency medical field, so she decides that returning to university to get qualified in a less strenuous line of work is the perfect solution. She’s a very confident, out-and-proud lesbian, but she struggles with dyslexia and keeps that a guarded secret. She’s had lovers leave her over her learning disability and she doesn’t want that emotional pain ever again.

When Ruby and Mel have a chance meeting before classes begin, Ruby rubs Mel the wrong way, and both of them are happy to never have any reason to interact in the future. When they find themselves sharing a table at a local pub, Ruby discovers Mel is an expert gardener, and she promptly asks her to help with her garden project. Mel is willing to let bygones be bygones and agrees to help out.

Ruby and Mel are complete opposites. Their working styles are decidedly different and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As they slowly become friends, can they find common ground and take their relationship to the next level?

The Characters

Ruby and Mel are a fun example of opposites attract. Ruby is a by-the-book academic who likes organization, keeping her personal life private, and proper table manners. Mel is carefree, grounded, and up for just about any new experience life throws her way. It’s fun to see how each woman unsettles the other. The closer they become, the more they smooth out each other’s rough edges. As the story unfolds and their attraction for each other builds, it’s amusing to see them courting like bashful teenagers.

The Writing Style

The Words Shimmer follows the romance formula with enough unique elements to keep it from feeling rote. By placing Ruby and Mel in situations that are outside their respective comfort zones, Matthews is able to show how each of them grow and overcome some of their insecurities. Matthews captures the joy that can be found working with children as well as the self-doubt often felt when dating in your late forties. She employs small details and insightful dialogue to bring Ruby and Mel to life.

The Pros

It was refreshing to read about a neurodiverse character that didn’t have autism. I love seeing characters on the autism spectrum, but it was nice to see characters struggling with a learning disability that isn’t as common in this genre. I was also very pleased to see issues related to menopause and how it can affect a woman’s sex life. I’ve never seen this in a romance, so I say, “Brava.”

The Cons

I feel like the book could have been tightened up a bit. I found myself tempted to skim over some bits, but not to the extent that I actually did. Perhaps seeing Mel on the job might have given the world of the book a little more depth for me.

The Conclusion

The Words Shimmer is the kind of sweet, slow burn romance made for relaxing and unplugging at the end of the day. It’s a quick, light read with likeable characters and a familiar romantic plot that hits all the right notes. If you’re in the mood for a romance with little angst, this might be what you’re looking for.

Excerpt from The Words Shimmer by Jenn Matthews

Ruby’s smile grew. “Listen.” She placed her fork down and watched as Mel took a bite of her sandwich. “I want to apologise for last week.” She nodded, once. “And back in the summer.”

“Why? Because you were an idiot?” Mel spoke around a mouthful of lettuce and mayonnaise.

Ruby’s face twisted. “Perhaps swallow before you speak?”

Mel rolled her eyes and obediently closed her mouth.

“I ought to say sorry for my behaviour.”

Mel nodded.

“I was, as you would say, an idiot.”

“Mmhm.”

“If we’re going to be friends, as I assume we are, due to our looming gardening adventure, we should perhaps agree to show full respect.”

Mel finally swallowed and frowned at her. “‘We’?”

“Okay, me… I should.” Ruby’s gaze held Mel’s steadily. “Would that be all right?”

“No more gung-ho comments?”

“Absolutely not.” Ruby held up three fingers in a Girl Guide salute.

Mel waited for a few seconds, just to make Ruby squirm, before taking another bite of her sandwich and nodding. “Okay.”

Ruby held her hand up over her eyes, blocking Mel’s salad-filled mouth from her vision.

Mel put her hand over her lips and tried not to laugh. She swallowed and nodded. “Sorry.”

Ruby continued with her salad, stabbing a piece of beetroot with her fork. “So, I suppose we should get to know one another. Make friends properly.”

“Good idea.” Mel grinned. “What shoe size are you?”

Ruby’s amused gaze caught her own. “You’re a joker, aren’t you?”

“Just like making you smile,” Mel said, and then blinked, wondering where the flirtatiousness had come from. She shook her head in disbelief and went back to her sandwich.

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9783963242434
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing
  • Jenn Matthews Online  

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