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Book Review: In the Event of Love by Courtney Kae

Image of a digital book cover. This is a cartoon style drawing Pine trees make up the background. On the left is a blond white woman in a pink coat, torn jeans, and knee high boots with a cowboy hat. On the right is a brunette woman in a red flannel shirt, khakis, and work boots, holding an axe on a stump. There's a Christmas wreath behind her.

Summary:
With her career as a Los Angeles event planner imploding after a tabloid blowup, Morgan Ross isn’t headed home for the holidays so much as in strategic retreat. Breathtaking mountain vistas, quirky townsfolk, and charming small businesses aside, her hometown of Fern Falls is built of one heartbreak on top of another . . .

Take her one-time best friend turned crush, Rachel Reed. The memory of their perfect, doomed first kiss is still fresh as new-fallen snow. Way fresher than the freezing mud Morgan ends up sprawled in on her very first day back, only to be hauled out via Rachel’s sexy new lumberjane muscles acquired from running her family tree farm.

When Morgan discovers that the Reeds’ struggling tree farm is the only thing standing between Fern Falls and corporate greed destroying the whole town’s livelihood, she decides she can put heartbreak aside to save the farm by planning her best fundraiser yet. She has all the inspiration for a spectacular event: delicious vanilla lattes, acoustic guitars under majestic pines, a cozy barn surrounded by brilliant stars. But she and Rachel will ABSOLUTELY NOT have a heartwarming holiday happy ending. That would be as unprofessional as it is unlikely. Right?

Review:
This is a thoroughly queer holiday romance for your holiday needs. It has the returning to my small town from the big city to try to save a small business trope. It also has the second chance love trope.

The two main characters in this sapphic romance are BOTH (!) bisexual (and say the word), which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before in a romance. There’s a secondary male character who I think is bisexual, although it’s possible he’s gay and has dated women in the past (no one ever says which). There’s another secondary gay character, and a trans woman of color. The owner of the business Morgan works for is a woman of color. A tertiary character is a woman of color married to a Jewish man. Chrismukkah happens briefly. There’s also a pine tree decorated for a mix of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

The sex scenes are steamy and on-screen (all f/f), and there were at least three? Maybe more? I lost count. There’s also one ahem, self-love scene, which I honestly skimmed over because that’s not something I’m personally into reading. I appreciate that it did move the plot forward and wasn’t pointless though. (The character essentially clears her head in this way and then is able to solve a problem she’s been puzzling over).

The one thing I didn’t like was how alcohol is handled in this book. Rachel (the love interest)’s dad has alcoholism. That’s absolutely fine to include. In fact, it’s generally something I’m happy to see. But the representation of this struck false. The main thing that really bothered me is how Rachel interacts with alcohol herself. The book establishes that she’s traumatized by her dad’s alcoholism. It tore the family apart in high school. He’s been in and out of rehab that her and her brother pay for. Her mom left the family after Rachel (the youngest) graduated high school. Rachel routinely drops by her dad’s apartment (that she and her brother pay for) to check for signs of alcohol. YET she STILL drinks regularly. Not occasionally. Regularly. Most people I know who’ve seen this much of the negative impacts of alcohol won’t even allow it in their homes, let alone go out drinking themselves regularly.

Plus, there’s the whole instigation event to Morgan coming back to Fern Falls. (I don’t consider this a spoiler because it happens in chapter one). She gets wasted out at a bar and accidentally kisses the fiancé of someone whose wedding she’s organizing. He’s “in disguise” because he has a hoody on, but we all know she’d have recognized him if she wasn’t drunk. Anyway, everyone knows about this because the news wrote it up. We know Rachel knows about it. She still goes for Morgan. No way. No adult child of an alcoholic would set themselves up like that. I overlooked it because it’s a cheesy romance, but this is not a realistic depiction of an adult child of an alcoholic who’s actively engaged in their recovery. Adult children of alcoholics tend to fall either into the camps of also alcoholics themselves or sober. Rachel falls into neither. I feel weird complaining about realism in a holiday romance novel, but this is real life for a lot of us, and I disliked it being used as a plot device poorly. Alcoholism is serious, and Rachel wouldn’t be casually getting drunk with some love interest who’s only home because she became a hashtag while doing something drunk. In fact, I think this was a missed opportunity for some real bonding. They could have been at a town event and both noticed they were drinking hot chocolate. Rachel reveals the stuff about her dad. Morgan reveals she’s decided to dial it way back with the alcohol after possibly losing her career on that night out. Instant believable bond. But no….they just share spiked drinks.

All of that said, I still gave it four stars because this is a fun holiday romance. It’s not supposed to be that serious! And the bisexual rep is so uncommon and needed. I just wish the alcoholism/adult children of alcoholics rep was just as well done.

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4 out of 5 stars

Length: 320 pages – average but on the longer side

Source: NetGalley

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Friday Fun! (Merry Chrismukkah!)

December 18, 2009 4 comments

What a busy week it’s been!  Full of good and bad stress.  Thankfully mostly the good kind.  Unfortunately stress of any kind can make me act kinda wonky, so…..sorry about that.

Over the weekend I visited my family in Vermont.  My nephew is 2 and has reached the “why” stage of development.  My brother and sister-in-law have grown a bit tired of it, but I gotta say I thoroughly enjoyed answering all of his “why’s” to the fullest extent.  Of course, I only was around him for a portion of 2 days, lol.  My aunt and uncle (who my dad lives with) were very hospitable, and I drank much wine.  My dad gave me housewarming money which was fairly promptly used to buy a toaster and a rice cooker.  They haven’t arrived yet, but they’re bright red and appear to be entirely awesome.

Monday was my presentation of my final team project for this semester of grad school, which means I am officially on winter break! Yayyyyyy!!!  I already got my grades, and they were both just fine and dandy.

This week I hosted a Chrismukkah gathering for my group of lesbian friends (I call them “The Lesbians,” and yes they are just fine with that.  In fact, they kinda love it).  I had my first attempt at making latkes.  I used the vegan sweet potato latke recipe from this month’s issue of Vegetarian Times magazine.  I was doubtful that substituting pureed sweet potato for egg would work, but by golly it did.  The latkes tasted great, although I need to work on figuring out the appropriate cooking time.  There aren’t the helpful bubbles that you get with regular pancakes, so a few got a bit, erm, burnt.  We lit the menorah (and I am proud to say that I can now sing the prayer), and we watched Claymation Christmas.  If you have never seen Claymation Christmas I hereby order you to go find it on Youtube.  It is quite trippy.  The Lesbians surprised me by giving me a crock pot!  This means you may be hearing about my vegetarian crock pot cooking adventures in the future.

You guys were totally going to get an adorable picture of my kitty snuggled up in wrapping paper, but I didn’t get a chance to download them to my computer.  I swear these Friday posts will have pictures eventually.

I hope everyone’s holidays are going well.  Try to enjoy and stay stress-free!

Friday Fun! (On Thursday)

December 10, 2009 4 comments

You guys get Friday Fun a day early this week, since I’m taking a three day weekend to visit my family in Vermont–father, brother, nephew, sister-in-law, grandmother, aunt, and uncle.  I didn’t go up for Thanksgiving, since I had to work the day after, and Christmas is out of the question since that’s pretty much exactly when my very pregnant sister-in-law is due.  So, we decided to do a visit mid-December and a visit mid-January instead.  I like it.  It means I get to skip lots of the holiday traffic.

Last Saturday was the first time I’ve washed my laundry in machines since June.  Now, don’t think I’ve been wearing dirty clothes; I haven’t.  I don’t have a washer/dryer at my apartment, and the nearest laundromat is a solid 1.25 miles away, so I’ve been handwashing everything.  Yes, including towels.  Well a couple of weeks ago, my drying rack broke (we’re fairly certain the kitty broke it), and I hadn’t had time to pick up a new one, so my laundry pile was enormous.  Thus on Saturday I decided it was necessary to use machines if I was ever going to catch up, and guys can I just say, holy crap I’d forgotten what fabric softened clothes and towels feel like.  *sighs*  I don’t mind the upper body workout of handwashing, but my god I miss the fabric softener.

Also this weekend I officially became addicted to Lost.  I’d almost finished the first season, which I was enjoying but not loving.  But I decided to watch the season finale and start the second season anyway.  Omg, the second season.   I wound up having a mini-marathon, and I am now determined to catch up before the new season starts in February.  The only other shows I’ve ever enjoyed this much are Buffy and True Blood, and I have to say that I think True Blood comes slightly behind Lost.  I know; I can hear you gasping now.  I am so into it; I even do the yelling at the screen thing. (Please remember I’m only in the second season, so no spoilery comments puhleeze!)

I wrapped all the presents I’ve bought so far, and they are now camped out under the tree.  I’m almost completely done with my Chrismukkah shopping.  I need to pick up a couple of little things, a present for my grandmother, and something for the kitty (yes I buy my pets Chrismukkah presents).  Also a few presents I bought online haven’t arrived yet, and I need to bake cookies.  It all sounds so busy, but it’s all stuff I enjoy doing, so I don’t mind.

I had really meant to get a book review up this week for the next Dark Tower book, but I still have about 50 pages to go, so it looks like you’ll have to wait for that until next week.  It has been a very busy week with finals and life and all that, so I’m not too surprised I haven’t quite finished it.

Next week I’m giving my final presentation in class with my teammate, and then I’ll officially be on winter vacation!  I’m also having some friends over for a Chrismukkah gathering, and other holiday activities.  As long as I survive the visit home, it should be a pretty awesome week.

Friday Fun!

December 4, 2009 11 comments

Reading other people’s blogs (most notably The Story Siren and Medieval Bookworm) made me decide my blog needs a bit of a consistent humanizing element to it.  Non-opinion posts that just give you a general sense of who the hell this person is who’s yacking to you about books, movies, and general opinions.  To that end I’ve decided to start this new (hopefully consistent) feature–Friday Fun!–in which I will ramble about general Amanda-stuff.  I hope you enjoy.

This week I became the proud owner of both a menorah and a 3 foot tall fake Christmas tree.  I can hear my family now.  “Whaaat?!  You bought a fake tree?!”  But you see, a fake tree is easier and cheaper, so I’m happy.  I’ll also need to skip the tinsel for the first year ever due to the presence of the kitty.  She totally would eat the tinsel and we’d get to spend a lovely night in the MSPCA ER.  As for the menorah, it’s the first time I’ll be the one in charge of lighting it.  For the last five years, it was always a roommate or hallmate who did, so I’ve taken it upon myself to learn the Hanukkah prayers.  My friend Nina helped me get the basics, but I found this website last night to help me practice when she’s not around.

I am a major online holiday shopper, and a lot of the presents I’ve been buying arrived this week.  I have quite the stash in my closet, and I need to acquire wrapping paper so they can wind up under the tree.  Seeing all the wrapped presents is one of my favorite things.  I’ve looked for wrapping paper twice so far, but finding non-holiday-specific ones for my Chrismukkah celebrations hasn’t been going too well.  And no, I don’t like snowman paper.

On the sour note, last night my downstairs neighbors complained about me walking around my apartment.  Yes, walking.  Personally my first reaction is that they should suck it up and deal because they knew what they were getting into when they chose an apartment that’s not on the top floor.  It’s not like I was dancing or running circles or something.  Upon reflection after she left, however, I realized that the new kitty addition does have a tendency to run circles (and bounce off walls and randomly do dances) in the evening, and perhaps this is what the neighbors have been hearing.  I can sort of sympathize with this, but it doesn’t seem to me there’s much I can do about it.  It’s not my fault the landlord has wood floors on the top floor of the apartment building.  I’m thinking of stopping by and letting them know it’s probably the cat they’re hearing, so they at least know (unless that’s unnecessary?), but in the meantime, any suggestions on how to deal with the neighbors?

This weekend my plans are a bit up-in-the-air, but I do plan on decorating the tree, maybe hanging out with some friends, and reading more.  It’d been a long time since I’ve read a series, and I’m really enjoying the cozy familiarity I’m starting to feel with the main characters in both The Dark Tower and Sookie Stackhouse.  Of course I also have a couple of movies on my radar to watch.  You’ll just have to wait til next week to find out what they are!

Peace!