Review of ‘A Breathless Place’ by Harper Bliss
This book comes with a warning label, not from me but from Ms. Bliss herself. The story discusses the topic of suicide so it could trigger some readers. With such a warning, I was doubting to read it but despite this lesbian romance drama novel deals with such heavy issues, the end result is of a feel-good story.
Isabel “Izzy” Adler is a superstar singer who lost her voice ten years ago. Without it she’d rather die and that’s exactly what she is planning to do. When journalist Leila Zadeh is brought to finish her biography, her desire to end her life is challenged by this attractive and intelligent woman. Will Leila be able to convince Izzy that’s life is worth a try?
Harper Bliss’s work can be divided into her romance/erotica books and her more introspective novels such as ‘At the Water’s Edge’, ‘In the Distance there is Light’, ‘The Two Hearts’ Trilogy, and this one. Ms. Bliss explains on the author’s note that writing some of these novels changed her profoundly, made her recover from depression, discover her autism and, with ‘A Breathless Place’ find her true self.
Despite the heaviness of these issues, this book isn’t dark or depressing. It has its low moments but it will mostly leave the reader hopeful and with a positive feeling. I’m not spoiling anything here as the blurb is very clear on the main character’s journey.
The story is written in first person from the point of view of Izzy so the reader is in her headspace a lot. Ms. Bliss did a great job at fleshing out this character, an outstanding singer who had the world at her feet to her transformation into a recluse, hopeless person who sees no hope in the future. Izzy might not have kept her world-famous voice but she’s still a diva and therefore, I found her hard to like, especially at the beginning. It’s not the author’s fault, I think it’s more of a consequence of Ms. Bliss’s skills at writing Izzy as a complex character that made me difficult to empathise with her at the start.
Izzy represents a dark and negative place, while Leila is light and positivity. Both women explore their mutual attraction, in a process that will transform them both. As Izzy starts to find a new meaning for her life, I appreciated this character more and enjoyed the final result.
An introspective and sometimes dark but overall positive book with a beautiful love story. It’s very positive that Ms. Bliss has written characters in their 60s which are hard to find in lesfic. 4.5 stars.
A huge shoutout to Ms. Bliss’s wife, Caroline Manchoulas, who did an amazing job with the cover art.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.