cover image Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail

Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail

Ashley Herring Blake. Berkley, $17 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-33642-7

This sexy and heartfelt queer rom-com, the second in Blake’s Bright Falls series (after Delilah Green Doesn’t Care), stars Astrid Parker, a “baby bisexual” interior designer who’s at loose ends after splitting from her “golden boy” fiancé. Then she meets the equally lost-in-life Jordan Everwood, a tarot-reading “soft-butch” carpenter whose purportedly haunted family inn in Bright Falls, Ore., Astrid will be remodeling for an HGTV show. The women are initially at odds due to clashing personalities and design sensibilities, but Blake puts a twist on the enemies-to-lovers trope when they realize that they’re stronger together and begin secretly collaborating on the redesign without the knowledge of the TV crew. Though some of the secondary cast, including Astrid’s mother and Jordan’s ex, undergo character changes that happen too abruptly to feel natural, Astrid and Jordan themselves are impressively well-rounded, coming across as simultaneously rude, sarcastic, and short-tempered, and caring, devoted, and kind, rather than going from one extreme to the other. Returning readers will be delighted to revisit Bright Falls and any romance fan will thrill at the sexual and emotional gratification on offer here. Agent: Rebecca Podos, Rees Literary. (Nov.)