A friends-to-lovers romance with the setting of a small town
Melissa Brayden is one of the most renowned Sapphic fiction authors. I’ve been reading her books for years, though lately, I felt like her books weren’t a good match for me. Even though I liked this one, I still prefer some of her earlier works such as the Soho Loft Series.
Aster is the youngest of the Lavender sisters and is happy to keep a low profile while her sisters stand in the spotlight. She’s the owner of a doughnut shop in their small town but dreams to explore the world. The only lesbians in town are married to each other so she has no hope to find love there. Brynn Garrett is the new town veterinarian, covering for a colleague for a short time. As Aster and Brynn get to know each other, neither of them expected to have such a strong connection…
The Last Lavender Sister is not only a romance but also a family saga and a journey of transformation for both characters. Regarding the romance, this is a friends-to-lovers trope with the setting of a small town. The story develops throughout a few years, starting before both characters meet. There is the main f/f romance between Aster and Brynn but the novel also features the love life of Aster’s siblings as a very secondary plot, including Aster’s brother Sage. I wonder if Ms. Brayden is planning on writing a sequel with one of the other Lavender sisters in mind. I wouldn’t mind revisiting this universe again.
Regarding the romance itself, as usual, Melissa Brayden builds the chemistry slowly but surely. I loved that the characters bonded through their common love of reading, “reading as foreplay” in the words of the author, and through their love of animals and food, especially doughnuts (which, incidentally, are also a favourite of the author).
This is a typical push-pull romance which sometimes is tricky to balance. Personally, I felt that the “will they-won’t they” dynamic went a bit too far. Even though the author justifies in actions and words the characters’ reasons behind each decision, for me it stretched for too long to the point where I wondered if they really were made for each other. I’m sure that people who love angst and drama will like it better than I did, it’s just a personal preference.
Lula Larkin did a good job narrating the audiobook version. Her voices are all distinctive and the performance of the different range of emotions is spot on. I think she did justice to the written text and for me personally, her narration increased my enjoyment of the story. 4 stars.
Length: 10 hours, 28 minutes.