ARC Review by Annie: Perfect Rhythm by Jae

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Pop star Leontyne Blake might sing about love, but she stopped believing in it a long time ago. What women want is her image, not the real her. When her father has a stroke, she flees the spotlight and returns to her tiny Missouri hometown.

In her childhood home, she meets small-town nurse Holly Drummond, who isn’t impressed by Leo’s fame at all. That isn’t the only thing that makes Holly different from other women. She’s also asexual. For her, dating is a minefield of expectations that she has decided to avoid.

Can the tentative friendship between a burned-out pop star and a woman not interested in sex develop into something more despite their diverse expectations?

A lesbian romance about seeking the perfect rhythm between two very different people—and finding happiness where they least expect it.

Release Date: September 6th
Ylva Publishing | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads

reviewedbyannie

*A copy of this was provided by the publisher

I was super excited to start this because there are not enough ace f/f stories. There’s not enough ace rep, period. But I find it easier to find ace characters in contemporary m/m. I requested a copy at the publisher and was stoked when I got a copy. But I have mixed feelings about the book.

I really liked Holly and could relate to her on so many levels. She’s easy to like, down to earth and just a nice person to be around. I’d love to hang out with her. And her representation as ace character was in my opinion mostly good. What really, really bothered me though was the casual acephobic comments (and thoughts) from Leo. Particularly in the first half of the book. She later goes and defends Holly, which is great, but I really thought about not finishing this book because it was hard to read those casual hurtful remarks and thoughts by Leo.

It’s little things that in the end all add up. Leo’s reaction to Holly coming out made me uncomfortable at best. And it’s not just the comparison Holly uses to explain asexuality. Best way is to add the quote here:

“It’s a little like chocolate,” Holly said.
[…]
“Bear with me. So, some people like dark chocolate. Some like milk chocolate. And some like white chocolate.”
[…]
“There are also some people who like all kinds of chocolate.”
[…]
“And last but not least, there are a couple of people who don’t like any type of chocolate.”

Saying asexuality is like liking a certain kind of chocolate or not liking it, is just plain wrong. Asexuality is NOT defined by what you like or dislike but the lack of sexual *attraction*. 

Then there are things like when Leo brought Holly home after the coming out she has this train of thought about how “She hadn’t said any of that ignorant stuff, had she? Well, admittedly, asking Holly if she’d been abused had probably fallen into the stupid-questions category, but she cut herself some slack. This was still new and confusing to her” and just, NO she does not get to cut herself some slack. I thought that maybe Leo would apologize for the insensitive way she reacted, but there’s nothing. It happens and is never talked about again. If she realised that what she said was hurtful, why would she not try to make it right? I understand that you can – unintentionally – react in a hurtful way when you’re just learning about something, but once you realise your mistake, I think you should apologize. And Leo just shrugged it off like nothing happened.
When they have their first date Leo gets aroused and she thinks something about whether she should feel sad that Holly doesn’t feel [the sexual attraction] or envy her. But the most hurtful and offensive thing was: “Was she really doing this? Dating an asexual woman?” Things like that fucking hurt. Uncontested thoughts like this perpetuate the notion that asexual people are somehow “undateable”. It didn’t read like it was about them not being sexually compatible, but that Leo couldn’t possibly date someone who is ace – that is not okay. Again it’s a thought, and I know that thoughts can’t be called out (except if you’re a mind reader, which I find rare in contemporary romance…) but I really wished Holly would have called her out more on the stuff Leo did say.

Because of that I can’t say that I was particularly rooting for them to get their HEA. Holly could do better than the Leo from the first 60% of the book. The other 40% were actually good, then again there’s not so much talk about Holly’s asexuality as there is in the first bit.

In the end those little things just add up and even Holly being relatable, or the other stuff surrounding Holly’s and Leo’s relationship just weren’t enough. Which is really sad because otherwise the book is well-written and quite good. If you leave out the whole asexuality aspect, I could have easily loved this story. I liked how Leo grew throughout the story and ultimately realised what she wanted to do with regards to her career. At over 100.000 words, Perfect Rhythm is  a rather long novel, but I never felt like it was too long. Perfect Rhythm really needed the length to portray the growing relationship between Holly and Leo, the relationship between Leo and her parents, and also the way Holly learns to trust someone again after being hurt more than once for being ace.

I don’t know how to rate this. There were bits I liked and others I really struggled to get through. And as an ace reader I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this to other readers on the ace spectrum.

Plus points though for the content warning regarding the sex scene for readers who don’t wish to read those!

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Jae is the author of sixteen award-winning lesbian romances. She lives in the sunniest city of Germany, near the French and Swiss borders. The writing bug bit her at the age of eleven.

She used to work as a psychologist but gave up her day job in 2013 to become a full-time writer and a part-time editor. As far as she’s concerned, it’s the best job in the world.

When she’s not writing, she is an avid reader of lesbian books, indulges her ice cream and office supply addictions, and watches way too many crime shows.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Asexual (+ace-spec) Orientation: Lesbian Pairing: F/F Publisher: Ylva Publishing Review Tag: Celebrity / Famous Person Tag: Friends to Lovers Tag: Rockstar/Musician

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