Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Romance Book Review: The Secrets we Keep by Donna Jay (lesbian)

The Secrets we Keep
Author: Donna Jay
Publication Date: April 2, 2021
Protagonist Gender: Female
Sexuality: Lesbian

A slow-burn lesbian romance, The Secrets we Keep makes lovely use of the opposites attract aspect of Sadie and Victoria's relationship. In addition to the not-insignificant age-gap between them, there's also a divide of wealth, living situations, careers, and emotional vulnerability. What makes this such a delight is that while Donna Jay incorporates all of that into the story, she never makes either character feel 'lesser' than the other. 

Written in the first-person, with Sadie narrating the first half of the story and Victoria the second, the book really takes us inside the character's minds, allowing us to directly relate to what they're thinking and feeling. Sadie's chapters are warmer and more emotional, filled with a bit more humor, but it's Victoria's that give it all significance, making us appreciate the emotional investment required to bridge the gaps between them.

I fell in love with Sadie from the start, and found myself feeling very protective of her. She's such a wonderful young woman, so determine and so resilient, you can't help but want everything to work out for her. What I felt for Victoria was more admiration, a fairy tale sort of longing for who she is and what she represents, and if I chafed at some of her actions, that just made her half of the story that much more rewarding. The supporting cast of women at the massage parlor are wonderful as well, vibrant women with bigger-than-life personalities, and I'm ridiculously excited to know that Soraya will be getting her own story.

On that note, I loved the whole concept of the salon with 'extra' services. It's sexy, and a little bit kinky, but it's also wonderfully empowering. I also loved the discussions the characters had about sex, romance, orientation, and expression, and the open, enthusiastic acceptance of a transgender woman coming for lesbian services made my heart sing. It's another thematic exploration of opposites, contrasting the sordid stereotypes of such a salon with the sweet reality of the women involved, and seeing them outside of work, especially at Hannah's home, further accentuates that.

Getting back to the romance, the will-they/won't-they sexual tension of the story is beautifully done, making us crazy with desire on their behalf, yet never pushing it so far that we're more relieved to have it over than we are to see Sadie and Victoria together. My heart broke when they fought, but it soared when they loved, and that's everything you want in a romance. The Secrets we Keep is just an altogether wonderful lesbian romance, beautifully told, with fabulous characters, the latest in a string of five-star delights from Donna Jay.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ 

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