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Harper Perennial. Apr. 2024. 352p. ISBN 9780063338029. pap. $18.99. LGBTQIA+ ROMANCE
DEBUT Ada Highfield is a cabaret performer in a crowded British arts scene, ecstatic to be 26 and living the artist’s life. She becomes entangled in two contrasting romantic relationships. One involves Stuart, a younger middle-class man from Liverpool who keeps to texting rather than spending money or time to meet up. The other involves Sadie, a fellow Australian expat who crashes temporarily with Ada before moving back to Perth. Neither of these relationships develops according to the typical beats of a romance novel, and readers hoping to cheer for either relationship (or both) to succeed will feel frustrated by the lack of insight into Ada’s partners’ perspectives. For instance, a long, pivotal section of the novel takes place in Florida, where Ada’s sister lives, while Stuart and Sadie are occasionally present via text message but mostly serve as distant outlets for Ada’s processing and gradual emotional growth.
VERDICT Readers expecting a romance are likely to be disappointed, but this is an engaging portrait of the kind of person who is used to just getting things without planning or asking, from an easy immigration path to free lines of cocaine, as she looks ahead to the next phase of her life.
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