cover image Bet the Farm

Bet the Farm

Fiona Riley. Bold Strokes, $18.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-63555-731-2

Riley's second entry in her High Stakes Romance series (after Bet Against Me) doesn't quite deliver on what the series name promises; instead, Riley spins a gossipy, sexy outing that's about as angsty and suspenseful as an episode of Friends. That 1990s vibe animates the lifestyle of her lesbian leads, too, who pay personal stylists for their designer wear, play softball after work, and pick each other up in bars. In this case, it's realtor Lauren Calloway who catches sight of Thea Boudreaux across a crowded bar. Their hot one-night stand turns awkward when they discover that Lauren has been assigned to the project of saving—or selling—the deeply indebted Maine farm owned by Thea's mom. It's very much a stretch to believe that dozens of undeveloped waterfront acres a couple hours from Boston are being lowballed, but readers who can accept that and the slightly stilted start will find the affair between Lauren and Thea ripens enjoyably, with more cuddling than conflict. The supporting cast, including Trina and Kendall from book one, has room to shine, and Riley winningly showcases women's friendships as integral to romantic success. This is a fluffy delight. (May)