Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Romance Book Review: The People we Trust by Donna Jay (lesbian)

The People we Trust
Author: Donna Jay
Publication Date: August 2, 2021
Protagonist Gender: Female
Sexuality: Lesbian

Earlier this year, I had the great pleasure of enjoying The Secrets we Keep, a slow-burn lesbian romance that introduced us to the staff and clients of Libellule's, a beauty parlor that doubles as a high-class brothel for women who love women. Within that setting, Donna Jay explored the age-gap romance of two women, Sadie and Victoria, building up the sexual tension and breaking hearts before finding the happily ever after.

The People we Trust is a standalone sequel that can be enjoyed on its own, but which is best appreciated if you've already read the first book. Much of the tension and conflict in that book came from crossing professional boundaries, making lovers out of clients, but this sequel subverts that conflict, using it to build multiple layers of romance - most notably that of Soraya, the new manager of Libellule's, and her client.

More than just that of escort and client, that romance also crosses boundaries of professional obligations, personal life, family dynamics, and social values. These women risk a great deal in exposing their hearts to one another, and the way the story so tenderly and sensitively deals with that is absolutely wonderful. While the romance of Sadie and Victoria in the first book was will-they/won't-they, the romance here is more should-they/shouldn't-they, and that has an appeal all of its own. 

I didn't love Soraya the same way I did Sadie, but I respected her, admired her, and sympathized with her. I wanted to see her succeed at Libellule's, but I also needed to see her succeed at love. She's in a tough spot, navigating the personal and professional rivalries of her employees, and what she learns there helps guide her relationship, and vice versa. There was another layer of tension underneath that all, one that threatens the entire club, and the fact that it's not fully resolved here makes me wonder if we'll see more of it in the next book.

And I dearly hope there will be a next book, because I'm not ready to say goodbye to these ladies. In fact, there's one in particular, a Maori woman, whose brattiness captured my attention and who I hope gets a chance to shine.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ 1/2

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