This was a wonderful read!
This is another book that I read a while ago when I was recovering from surgery, and I’m just catching up writing a review for now. While I took short notes so I would remember the books and what I wanted to mention in my reviews, this book didn’t require any notes as it was very memorable and one of my favorite romances that I have read so far this year. Add in the fact that this was a debut book and I think Bella has discovered another great author is O’Shea.
This ended up being an ice queen, age-gap romance. I’m a little blasé about age-gap romances. I’ve read so many, in both sapphic and het fiction, that I’m pretty used to them and they don’t really catch my attention anymore unless it is something major. This book the gap was 20 years, I believe, and while that is big, the characters seemed so made for each other that I kept forgetting there even was one. I know while some people love age-gaps, others clearly don’t, but I think this book is such a good romance that I would not want it being an age-gap to cause anyone to miss out.
The older main character is an ice queen, but I’ll give a warning that she does melt pretty fast. I like my ice queens a little icier, but I love the characters in this book so much, Mei (the ice queen) included, that it did not bother me one bit. One of the most recent books I’ve read, had a great premise, with excellent writing, but the characters did nothing to get into your heart which these character did almost immediately. That other book was such a disappointment which shows what a difference a book makes with good characters. This is a debut and while the writing was good, it felt pretty average to me. But in the end, I would always pick a book like this, over something beautifully written but that had mediocre or unlikable characters.
Not only did O’Shea nail the cast of characters, but she did a fantastic job on this toaster oven romance. It was such a great romance that it made my heart feel full. I enjoyed everything including the little get to know you moments, the dates, and of course the chemistry and great connection that kept building more and more in front of your eyes. It was all very well done and if O’Shea is writing romance this good as a newbie, I can only imagine what could be in store for us in the future.
I really enjoyed this book and I seriously considered giving it 5 stars, but there were two main issues that stopped me. I felt at times the pace was a little off, which is not that surprising for a debut book. There were some parts that really slowed and O’Shea took her time with, but others seemed to move too fast. The ending especially seemed like maybe some parts were edited out as there were some loose ends that were not completely tied up and other things that needed more time. It just seemed a little bit rushed for my personal tastes. When you have such a good book, you need to let everything have time to really come together.
The last issue for me was the Harry Potter reference. In the year 2022, there really is no excuse for putting HP in a book about LGBTQ+ characters. Look, I get the whole separating artists from their art thing, and honestly, I’m struggling with this too. I love fantasy so I enjoyed the books and still have them and the movies on Blu-ray, but I sure am not going to wear a Slytherin T-shirt to a Pride march. I honestly feel like I have seen more HP references in LGBTQ+ books in the past year or two than I have since the HP books came out and I don’t understand it. I don’t want to get preachy here but authors need to do better and if they miss it then editors need to step up. We can’t keep hurting members of our community over something that doesn’t ever even need to be in a book in the first place. I do want to mention that the HP reference was in my early ARC copy so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that it never made it to the actual book release.
TLDR: An excellent age-gap romance that was actually one of the better romances I have read in 2022. I often talk about the amazing track record that Bella has in finding debut authors and with O’Shea, they have proved it again. If her debut is this good, it makes me so excited to read her future releases. The book did have a little pacing issue, and I wish the ending had more time to breathe, but still the story is great and this is an easy one for me to recommend. 4.50 Stars.
A copy was given to me for review.