Kate Dawson’s life is mapped out from cradle to grave. Her mother strategizes the best possible husband, career, connections, and friends, for her only child. On the morning of her bar exam, the last step before taking on a leadership role in her family’s prestigious law firm, Kate passes out from a sudden illness and lands in the hospital. After several weeks recuperating at home, with evenings spent watching classic movies with her gran (Katherine), the family matriarch, Kate is ready to go crazy from her inability to run a mile without getting winded or stay awake long enough to study for the next bar exam. Despite her love of Cary Grant’s and Katherine Hepburn’s onscreen shenanigans, Kate feels lost without the finely ordered path she has followed up to this point.
Gran pushes Kate out the door, insisting the woman recuperate at her mountain cabin, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It starts out a mixture of the life Kate leaves behind in the city and the solitude of a well-worn refuge. Cue Chris, the woman Kate later (playfully) refers to as the “Lesbian Casanova”. It’s lust at first sight for Chris and confusion for Kate (as she has never felt attraction for a woman before).
Chris Brent is the studly butch-next-door. She oozes a sexy combination of confidence and competence. When she’s not riding her motorcycle with her dad and friends, she is hard at work building up her small landscape architecture business. Weekends often find her mingling with lovely ladies at sex parties thrown by her friend, the sexually vibrant and insightful Georgia, in San Francisco. Chris doesn’t want any of the complications relationships may bring. Still, when she meets Kate (a serial monogamist), it’s becomes harder to insist on no-strings attached sex.
At the heart of the two women’s journey is their struggle with what they thought they wanted versus what they’re starting to realize they actually need. Sexuality plays a substantial role in the story. Kate isn’t the only character who embarks on journey of self-discovery in this arena.
When the outside world seeps into their semi-secluded retreat, Kate and Chris face even more barriers. Nicole, Kate’s best friend from college, plays tag team with Kate’s mother in their attempts to derail the burgeoning romance. Support comes from at least one unexpected corner, which I found pleasantly surprising.
One of my favorite aspects of Julie Blair’s storytelling is her ability to make me feel like I’m there. The family mansion and its palatial grounds and the cozy tucked away amongst the trees, with more trees than neighbors, are distinct. The spheres in which the women live and work are clear, emphasizing the seeming chasm between the two. Even now, a few weeks after reading the final word, I can close my eyes and instantly imagine myself at the cabin, in one of the luxurious gardens, or standing in front of the painted ladies of San Francisco. I also appreciate how the author does not use the characters to insist on one type of relationship as the ideal (i.e. monogamy).
It’s fun and flirty, with a delicious mix of family secrets, double lives, and “world turned upside down” life events. I highly recommend this story for anyone who enjoys a healthy dose of sensuality and erotica with their romance *fans self vigorously*