*I received this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.*
by M. Ullrich
Published Date: March 15 2016
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
Read: February 8 2016
My first book by this author.
A lesbian romance involving two women with ‘baggage’, damaged as they have been by life. Catherine was damaged by a bad relationship when she was in college, one so bad that she doesn’t want to date women any longer; while Imogene has been damaged by 9/11 (during which event her father died); damaged so badly that, among other things, she can’t ‘return to the city’.
This book follows two main characters (and occasionally hops over to another to see a scene neither would have been able to see).
Catherine Carter is a financial advisor who works in lower Manhattan in New York. Lives in Hoboken New Jersey. She is something like 4 months, give or take a few months, from turning 30. She had a list of things she wanted to do before she turned 30 and feels like she hasn’t fulfilled her self-imposed obligations. While she is very successful in her job, it isn’t one her father wanted her to do (which, apparently, is important). Father wanted her to be a lawyer. That fact that his two sons, older brothers of Catherine, joined him didn’t seem to lesson father’s disappointment.
Catherine is a work-a-holic but needs to be checking off those things left to check off. For the most part, all she has left to check off is ‘family’ or ‘a warm body to share her bed’ or something like that. So, she’s looking for a man.
Looking for a man? How can she be doing that, I can hear some lesfic readers asking (while others might be giddy with happiness/or groaning in despair). It’s a straight woman-lesbian woman romance? Well, no, not exactly. It’s a ‘woman was badly damaged from a relationship with a woman, and while she feels nothing for men, prefers to not have her heart further damaged so looks to men to find happiness’ type of story.
Connected to Catherine: Alice and Alice’s husband. Best friends of Catherine’s. Alice and her husband are friends with . . um, Will is it? Well, with Sophie’s husband. Sophie is best friends with Imogene.
Imogene Harris is a shop owner in Hoboken New Jersey. As she is the one described as having blue eyes, while the other woman is described as having dark eyes (two different colors are mentioned, if I recall correctly, both are basically brownish in color), I assume that she is the one on the cover of the book. There’s nothing about that half-head that I’d say couldn’t match up with Imogene.
Connected to Imogene Sophie the psychic and her husband. Vixen the cat.
Imogene and Catherine spend most of the book circling each other. With Imogene assuming Catherine is straight (well, she mentioned preferring men). While Catherine found Imogene quite . . . um . . . interesting.
There was a nice slow build up of their relationship occurring when things spiraled into ‘relationship troubles’ when a specific plot twist occurred. You’d think that a woman who doesn’t think she can be with a woman again, because she wants to protect her heart, mixed with a woman who thinks she might be falling for a straight woman, would be enough of a relationship burden, but no.
Yes, there is graphic sex that takes place in this book. I made comment once about how I keep reading these types of scenes while on trains. Well, for once that didn’t occur. It was interesting and likable sex. As I tend to say, that’s all I’m going to say on the subject.
Through a friend of a friend, Imogene Harris is hooked up with Catherine Carter. No, not on a blind date or the like, but as a financial advisor. The book, see, opens with Imogene having this inheritance that she ‘needs to take care of’ from her grandfather. And, through a network of friends, she is advised to contact Catherine Carter – a high rising financial advisor in New York city.
I’m not sure if it is supposed to be a coincidence or not that Catherine and Imogene happen to live something like three blocks from each other (okay, probably not that close, but it seems that way when their movements are described). Considering how the two were matched up, it probably isn’t a coincidence. I mean, it was a friend of a friend type deal. Friends who all happen to live in Hoboken. On the other hand, Catherine works in New York, and it is quite easy to see her being friends with someone who also works in New York, but lives in New Jersey. So *shrugs*, let’s just leave it as everyone happens to live in the same city in New Jersey.
Right, so, Catherine and Imogene meet at a party for Catherine’s friend – a birthday party. During which the entertainer happens to be a psychic. This is important on several levels. Firstly – Catherine, while talking to a stranger at said part, both of whom appear to be getting on quite well, makes some kind of comment or another indicating that psychics are stupid. Or something like that. The psychic, seemingly right then and there, calls her assistant to stand up to help her. That assistant being Imogene. So, Imogene and Catherine meet bad. Well, good, then foot-in-mouth bad. Secondly – the psychic is Sophie, Imogene’s best friend. Thirdly, despite believing that it would be a bad idea, Catherine can’t seem to stop herself from relatively continuously dropping in on Sophie the psychic for some psychic help.
So, Catherine helps Imogene with her finances. While also looking for ‘her man’, and being guided by the tiny drops dripped from the psychic (blue; 11; etc). Imogene, meanwhile, is finding herself getting more and more intrigued by this Catherine.
Then . . . plot twist! Someone from the past turns up. And twists the plot, and stuff.
The story takes place in Hoboken New Jersey and lower Manhattan New York. For the most part, the stuff that occurs in NY could have occurred in any high rise (at least in terms of descriptions given). I’ve no clue if the Hoboken described in the book corresponds to the one in real life, but I did get a good sense that I was in a city, bouncing around during a snow storm between apartments, and a store.
There are certain things that kind of are off-putting to me. Things that I don’t want to read. Teacher/student relationships (depending on all parties involved, including age and like, I’m not deeply opposed to the idea, just . . . not while the student is a current student of the teacher); and cheating. There’s a flare of both in this story. Yay?
Up to about 62%, or thereabouts, I was considering what I had read up to that point. How I was reacting to it, how good or bad it was and came to the conclusion that I really really enjoyed everything. A well written story with well characterized people (mostly Imogene and Catherine). Then a plot twist occurred. The kind that deeply annoyed me. Well, potentially could have. It’s the type of plot twist I’ve seen before (oddly, or not, the last time I saw this specific plot twist, I think, was in another book that included teacher/student relations).
The book started off with me rather liking Catherine, and, to a certain extent, less liking Imogene. Not disliking, just that she hadn’t ‘grown’ on me. Then, somewhere along the way, I came to really like Imogene and . . . kind of dislike Catherine. But, meh, that’s life.
By the end of the book, I could say that I liked the characters but not really the story. For the most part. Except even at the end Catherine irritated me. “It feels good to have something they don’t” she says at one point, immediately followed by “They don’t know what it’s like to truly be in love.” Seriously? What kind of bitch is she? She ‘feels good’ that her brothers don’t know what it’s like to ‘truly be in love’? Really? WTF? What the fuck did the brothers do to her that she feels easy to make such a comment? To be glad that they don’t have true love? That annoys me.
Regardless, I grew to feel I knew both women, Imogene and Catherine, and mostly liked both of them. Giving the side eye, as I do, to Catherine, listing her on a ‘tentatively like’ list.
February 8 2016