A Shot in the Dark

Dell. Sept. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9780593500514. pap. $17. LGBTQIA+ ROMANCE
When Ely Cohen goes home from a queer club with a hot trans man, she doesn’t realize that he’s Wyatt Cole, the famously reclusive photographer she’s just returned to New York to study under. Rather than simply pretending it never happened, Wyatt takes his ethical obligations to Ely and his other students quite seriously and spends much of the book trying to navigate how he can be involved in Ely’s artistic development after she’s been transferred to another class. After the initial hookup, romance takes a back seat to personal growth, as Ely uses her art school experiences to explore her future relationships to Judaism (now that she’s spent several years away from her family’s Hasidic Chabad community) and her own mental health (now that she’s sober). Occasional chapters switch to Wyatt’s point of view, highlighting the ways his complicated relationship with his family of origin and his own recovery journey could make him a good partner for Ely.
VERDICT The teacher-student trope gets an unusually thoughtful treatment in YA fantasy writer Lee’s (A Lesson in Vengeance) first adult romance, which offers a more serious look at the decision to care for another person and the challenging journey of learning how to relate to one’s past.
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