Layla Mansour works for the mayor of Portland, Oregon and thrives in the behind-the-scenes world of politics. She is committed to her budding career and isn’t looking for any distractions. During a trip to Vancouver with her best friend, Marco, she meets the up and coming actress Isabel Martin. There is an instant attraction between the two women, and they soon find themselves in an intense long-distance relationship.
Neither Layla or Isabel are ready to deal with the intense scrutiny of taking their relationship public so when Isabel hits the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival, she does it solo. Her work is met with high praise and she gets her first taste of international fame. After too much champagne at the after party she finds herself in the arms of a popular internet vlogger. Isabel is stricken with guilt after a drunken kiss, and when pictures capturing her moment’s indiscretion surface online, Layla hightails it out of Isabel’s life.
Layla turns to her friend, Sasha for comfort. They casually begin dating, and Sasha’s attention in and out of the bedroom brings Layla the solace she needs. They are both clear. Their relationship isn’t going to turn into a happily ever after, and both women are comfortable with that.
Isabel is doing her best to sooth her broken heart. As her fame becomes more widespread, there’s no shortage of available women, but every encounter leaves her feeling empty. She can’t get Layla out of her heart or mind.
When a family tragedy breaks Isabel, she realizes Layla is the only person who can help put her back together. Layla struggles with the decision to go to Isabel and putting her heart at risk. It’s Sasha who helps her see Isabel is the one Layal is meant to be with. When Isabel and Layla reunite, it’s clear they still love each other, but Layla is afraid of getting her heart broken again.
Once Layla is back in Portland she returns to Sasha, and she tries to go back to the casual dating that had once felt right. Sasha sits her down and tells her what they shared had been what they both needed at the time, but it’s clear that Layla belongs with Isabel.
Can Layla and Isabel put the past to rest and build a new future together?
I love Layla and Isabel because they are perfectly imperfect. Yes, they experience that beautiful rush of new love that seems like something out of a dream, but Brown allows them to make mistakes, have misunderstandings, and deal with the aftermath of their breakup in the best way they can.
Layla is 100% committed to her job. She’s dedicated to affecting change in the world and she is hyper focused on that. There is no doubt that her love for Isabel is real. She is thoughtful and passionate, but she has trouble recognizing when it’s time to step up and act the part of the supportive girlfriend. It almost feels like when she finds out about Isabel’s very public kiss, she uses it to bail on the relationship and return to the safety of a life focused solely on her career. When she begins seeing Sasha both of them know it’s a temporary situation until Layla can sort out her feelings for Isabel. Layla may be an adult, but she has some growing up to do, and watching her figure out what she wants to make a priority in her life is the best part of this story.
Isabel might be a rising star, but she doesn’t see herself that way. Like Layla, she is focused on her career, but her feelings for Layla are unwavering. Unfortunately, she has issues with insecurity, and she lets them inform how she perceives Layla’s feelings towards her. She’s absolutely devasted over their breakup, and she can’t move on. While there’s no shortage of women who want to be with the glamorous young actress those brief encounters leave her feeling empty. Layla is her person, and all she wants is to have her back
The Writing Style
This book is a lovely romance with the perfect amount of angst, and it felt very “grown up” to me. Usually I am distraught while the two main characters are apart after the expected moment of conflict tears them apart. Brown takes advantage of that part of the book to explore realistic ways people try to heal or move on after a breakup. I thought it was very authentic. This makes the pacing of the story feel on point. The story covers a year in the lives of Layla and Isabel, and Brown does a great job showing how each woman emotionally grows during that time.
Brown also knows how to bring the heat. Her love scenes are never gratuitous. When Layla and Isabel are together the sex reflects where they are in their relationship. The same is true while Layla and Sasha are together. These scenes are quite poignant because they are about Layla and Sasha mutually finding the intimacy that is lacking in their lives. Some readers might not like that one of the main characters has a sexual relationship away from the other main character. I found it refreshing because life and love aren’t necessarily neat and tidy.
I think it took a lot of guts on Brown’s part to include the Layla/Sasha storyline. It might turn some readers off. When Layla realizes she still has feelings for Isabel and needs to end her relationship with Sasha it isn’t a black and white decision. Sasha and Layla are still figuring out what is going on between them. Their honest and frank discussions still lead them into each other’s arms, but those couplings are what bring closure and solace to their relationship. This was a bold decision on Brown’s part, and I applaud her for it.
None from me.
I thoroughly enjoyed this romance. Life and love can be messy, and Brown doesn’t shy away from portraying that. She writes about the grey areas that aren’t usually found in a typical romance. There are plenty of highs and lows in this story, but there isn’t the kind of angst that is manufactured for its own sake. I never doubted that there was a happily ever after waiting for Layla and Isabel. Watching them figure out how to get there was a treat, and I can’t wait to read the next offering from this author. This book is the first in a series and I hear the follow up is going to focus on Sasha’s story. I’m so here for that! So, Ms. Brown, please don’t make me wait too long.
Excerpt from Worlds Apart by Isis Brown
Layla must have been lost in thought for a while because she was snapped back to reality when Isabel set two plates down and sat next to her at the small table. “Hey, what’re you thinking about? You look a million miles away.”
Layla hesitated to answer, then averted her eyes. Isabel set her fork down and grabbed Layla’s hand. “Lay it on me.”
Layla faced Isabel and took a deep breath. “I leave tomorrow, and I’ve been trying not to think about it but…” She let her sentence trail off. Isabel was silent for a moment but didn’t let go of Layla’s hand. “I know. I’ve been trying not to think about it, too.”
Layla took a deep breath, wiped her hands on the robe, and decided to level with Isabel.
“Isabel. I like you. I mean. I like you, and that makes me feel like such a walking talking lesbian stereotype. I want to keep seeing you, but I realize the challenges with that, and I recognize that I don’t even really know what you want to do–and Marco and Elliott make it sound so easy just to say thanks for everything see you later, and I just wish we could freeze time for a little bit, so we don’t have to figure anything out.” Layla let out a long exhale.
Isabel smiled at Layla’s nervous rambling and leaned in to give her a tender kiss.
“I like you too. I have never been in a long-distance thing before, but the thought of us just going our separate ways feels terrible.”
“It does feel terrible. What do you propose?” Layla asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe we keep seeing each other when our schedules allow, and not putting too much pressure on things. I know we both have demanding jobs, but mine is a bit more flexible than yours between projects. Maybe we see when I can come see you next, and when I’m there we make a decision about whether or not we want there to be a next visit.”
“One step at a time?” asked Layla.
“One step at a time.”
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The Politico Series
Bits and Bobs
ASIN number: B07M6D969F
Publisher: Indie author
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