cover image Love and Lotus Blossoms

Love and Lotus Blossoms

Anne Shade. Bold Strokes, $19.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-63555-985-9

Shade (Masquerade) imbues this optimistic story of lifelong self-discovery with a refreshing amount of emotional complexity, delivering a queer romance that leans into affection as much as drama, and values friendship and familial love as deeply as romantic connection. Janesse “Ness” Philips’s teenage exploration of her sexuality with Nikki Carter, the boyish girl-next-door, settles into a best friendship that defies Ness’s mother’s deep-seated homophobia. Nikki supports Ness through her on-and-off flirtation with mutual male friend Justin and her mentor-with-benefits relationship with well-connected Keisha. But the romance that continuously draws Ness back throughout her life is that with fashion stylist Maya Lawson, who keeps reappearing despite the relationship mistakes made on both sides. Shade’s well-drawn Black cast and sophistication in presenting a variety of relationship styles—including open relationships and connections that shift between romance and friendship—creates a rich, affirming, and love-filled setting that bolsters Ness and Maya’s true love arc. Throughout the long time frame, which follows Ness from her high school years into her 50s, Shade communicates both bountiful energy and stable comfort. Readers of all ages will easily find many moments that resonate along Ness’s journey. (Sept.)