Review of ‘A lesson in love’ by Harper Bliss.
Helen Swift is a 49-year-old Oxford University professor with a midlife crisis and a secret life as a cozy mystery author. When she meets her new DPhil supervisee, Victoria ‘Rory’ Carlisle, things start to spiral out of control fast. Rory is young, charming, gorgeous and so off-limits. Their mutual attraction is hard to resist but a romantic involvement between supervisor and student is frown upon. Can they have a future together?
This is book 3 of ‘The Village Romance’ series of three romance novels by T.B. Markinson, Clare Lydon and Harper Bliss set around a small town in the Cotswolds, England. Even though the main characters in each novel make an appearance in the others, each story is completely independent of the other two and can be read as standalone. I recommend reading all three books because they are equally enjoyable.
Full disclosure, I beta-read this novel by the author’s request. My input is very minor, focusing solely in the academic process of getting a DPhil/PhD in England. For this reason, I read it twice in the span of a couple of months and enjoyed it both times.
This is an age-gap romance, a type Ms. Bliss specialises in. She really excels at describing the temptation of the forbidden attraction, the inner control that the older character wants to maintain, the boldness of the younger one and the social pressure surrounding them. She did it really well in her book ‘Seasons of love’ and did it again in this one. In ‘A lesson in love’, this conflict is heightened by the fact that the mains are teacher and student, supervisor and supervisee. It’s another layer of forbidden love that brings the tension a few notches up.
Written in first person from the point of view of both main characters, the reader gets a glimpse of their doubts and fears but also their desire and joy. Ms. Bliss builds the tension exquisitely until it could be cut with the proverbial knife. The reader is left hanging for a while until this tension is inevitably shattered into pieces by the force of their emotions. And here the author excels again at showing the passion in the intimate scenes which, in this story, were superb. Ms. Bliss is, hands down, one of the best writers of sex scenes in lesfic.
The book is completed by a group of well-written secondary characters and an interesting debate about whether popular genre books should be considered a lesser form of literature as they normally don’t ponder about the human condition.
Overall, a very good age gap lesbian romance book with superb tension-building and resolution. 4.5 stars.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.