A thing in fiction that continues to delight me excessively is the evolution of the manic pixie dream girl into the disaster bisexual, which is so much better in so many ways. This book has big Grumpy One/Sunshine One energy, which we all know is my absolute favorite, and it’s exacerbated by the Sunshine One, Elle, being a complete and total disaster bisexual in literally every way. She is an utter delight, and Grumpy One (with a Secret Smooshy Inside, of course) Darcy is reluctantly charmed by all of it.
This is one of those books that is comprised of stellar moments, connected by a fairly standard storyline. (The fake relationship storyline, by the way, plays out SO WELL in f/f, because Darcy’s inability to communicate her emotions about her unwillingness to end the relationship as agreed upon, among other things, has nothing to do with toxic masculinity and everything to do with her actual, real-life emotions and needing to deal with her past). This is a low-angst story; there’s the requisite dark moment, and it’s dark enough, but in general, you can fit so much COMMUNICATION into this baby. *pats book* Elle is clear from the start about what she’s looking for, and grows even better at understanding and communicating what she deserves to have, and learns to be very clear about her boundaries (a fact that made me punch the air in glee). Even as Darcy struggles to get over the life events which caused her to set up the walls that Elle is gleefully barrelling over, she’s TRYING. Even when she is literally speechless, she understands what she needs to do.
But really, where this book shines is in the interactions. The story goes careening between adorable moments and awkward ones, painful family interactions and gratifying friendships, bouncing around with banter and wit and a LOT of heat. The spark between Elle and Darcy is fierce from the beginning, and the sex scenes are steamy, but honestly the bits I liked the most were the parts where they were NOTICING each other. At one point, Darcy watches Elle bite her own lip and realizes that she is jealous of Elle’s teeth, because she wants to be the one doing the biting, and it’s just… SO GOOD. Watching Darcy blossom under Elle’s relentless sunshine is a soothing, feel-good read. And Elle’s not just bubbles and sunshine; she’s got a career she’s worked hard for, and a solid education. One of my absolute favorite moments happened really early on in the story: Darcy (who is an actuary! I LOVE THIS), asks Elle how she makes her money. And Elle tells her! With a solid, explicit explanation of her various income streams and absolutely no bashfulness about using her skills and her passions to make real money. Normalize women talking about money, please.
I’m excited to keep going in this world – I’m loving Elle and Darcy’s friend group, and hoping to see more of their stories. (I hear Brendon’s story is coming next, and I can’t decide which of the hints that were dropped I want it to be – or neither!)