Perfect Pairing by Rachel Spangler. Bywater Books. 2016.
I really enjoyed this one. Wonderful food descriptions and details about food preparation and design, great chemistry, chosen family, hard-won happy ending, a bit angsty, full of humor, heat and heart.
It is very much grounded in setting, there is so much in this story about the city of Buffalo and what it means to the characters, and I really liked that. It’s also very much about class, in complex ways, about scarcity and living in poverty and assuming what someone’s class is, and class passing.
I found their sexual dynamic compelling and hot, liked the slow build to it and the explosions, found their sex life more varied and a bit less vanilla than most f/f romance I’ve read, a bit more like queer sex I’m familiar with in life. There’s a fluid kind of light power play that was fascinating to watch, and this lovely intensity to the sex scenes.
There were some things I had issues with. Jealousy as proof of love is one of the tropes I deeply dislike; it’s here, but with a thankfully light touch. The story contains a bit of casual amisia and casual ableism. The disabled vet secondary character was presented primarily as a charity case and proof of the MCs goodness. He also talks about fighting in the Gulf war in a way that made me uncomfortable as a white reader. There is this thing about the MC being biracial and not knowing what her heritage is because her mother didn’t know who her father is that felt off and a bit too casual to me as a white reader.
In general I found this romance satisfying and rather gripping, and liked watching the twists and turns. It surprised me, the way the arc built, and I liked that it did that while still being grounded in ways that didn’t sacrifice the comfort read aspect. I cared about the MCs and wanted them to figure it out, was glad that they did. I loved traveling alongside them on their bumpy road. And I deeply enjoyed their butch/femme dynamic, the way it infused so much of how they interacted. I also really loved the teach her younger brother to dance scene, so much.
And I really want to taste that breakfast sandwich.
- Biracial POC butch lesbian MC
- Femme lesbian MC
- Lesbian author
Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)
References to a parent with addiction, to a childhood being yanked in and out of foster care, brief references to combat and being injured in combat. Casual amisia. Casual ableist comments. Disabled character seems to mostly be there to prove the MCs goodness and charity.
- Source of the book: I bought this book myself.
- I have had no contact with the author.
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