Review of ‘Emily’s art and soul’ by Joy Argento.

Emily Sanders is facing a few challenges in life. She’s recently divorced from her husband, her mum passed away and she has to take care of her 23 year old Down syndrome sister. But the biggest challenge of all comes in the shape of her new co-worker, Andi Marino who is beautiful, caring and a lesbian. Andi not only becomes her best friend but makes Emily wonder about her own sexuality.

Despite the seriousness of certain issues touched by this novel such as bereavement, Down syndrome and coming out at 35, this is a positive and humorous story. Ms. Argento sets this light tone through the leads’ dialogues which are funny, full of banter and innuendo. Even Emily’s interior monologues
while examining her sexuality are amusing. Her explorations into the lesbian world provides a peculiar but, at the same time, familiar point of view. There are a few hilarious moments like the speed dating incident or the golf scene which are done really well.

Written in third person from the point of view of both main characters, the leads are well rounded and credible. As a ‘friends to lovers’ romance the author skillfully transforms their budding friendship to an increasing intimacy. Mindy, Emily’s Down syndrome sister, is a great secondary character, very realistic in her traits and interactions with other people. Her fresh outlook on life and her ‘best friend’ declarations help to keep the upbeat tone.

I think the author draw a lot of her life experience in this book (her brother has Down syndrome, it’s set in the area where she lives and, like Emily, she is an artist specialised in oil paintings) which makes the story sound really authentic. My only issue with this book is that the light tone set throughout the novel is lost temporarily in a forced conflict between the main characters. Even though the conflict seems realistic it sticks out like a sore thumb. Luckily this is a short interruption of what otherwise is a very entertaining read.

Overall, a light and humorous story of the ‘friends to lovers’ trope along with a late coming out. 4 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Bait and switch’ by Blythe Warren.

This is an enjoyable lesbian rom-com with emphasis in the comedy part. Written in first person from the point of view of marine biologist Liv Cucinelli, the story starts when she meets her former college nemesis Mira. To say that Liv holds a grudge against Mira for ruining her college career is an understatement, but somehow they manage to go past their previous differences to start an unlikely friendship. Will it develop into something more?

As an English College teacher, Ms. Warren is quite good with words, though she has a flair for using some strange ones like ‘preternatural’ or ‘immiscible’. I haven’t read her previous book so I’m not sure if it’s her usual writing style or this particular character’s voice. Sometimes, her choice of words is distracting but in most cases is hilarious. A good example is all the different ways she calls Mira’s mother: ‘Darth Vader in a pantsuit’, ‘Lady Lucifer’, ‘homophobic terrorist’, ’empress of evil’ and so on. The plot is entertaining, the dialogues are realistic and the secondary characters complement the story nicely, specially Mira’s deaf daughter Cassie.

Overall, a very enjoyable and entertaining read. 4 stars.

ARC provided by Bella Books in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘The scholarship’ by Jamie Maddox.

This is a sweet slow-burn romance wrapped up in a cold case mystery. Or the other way around. It’s not important, what matters is that Ms. Maddox found the perfect balance between mystery and romance with multi-layered characters and a well developed plot. As the main characters’ relationship grows, the author drops clues into the mystery to keep the reader guessing until (almost) the end. Maddox manages very well the introduction of so many secondary characters and murder suspects. The appearance of a character with Down Syndrome is welcomed in the genre and done thoughtfully.

Overall, a very entertaining mystery/romance. 4 stars.

ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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