cover image Reading Her

Reading Her

Amanda Radley. Bold Strokes, $17.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-63679-075-6

Lambda Award winner Radley (Humbug) delivers a low-conflict lesbian romance structured around familiar tropes. When 30-something assistant gym manager Lauren Evans takes pity on a teenager confused by leg curls, it leads to a confrontation with his hypercompetent barrister mom, 50-something Allegra Whittaker, whose credit card he stole to pay his gym fees. The women’s not-quite-meet-cute in the parking lot spurs apologies, dinner, and frolicking on the kitchen counter. Lauren’s motivated by a desire to “take the hoity-toity woman down a peg or two,” while Allegra wants to get back in the dating game. Neither expects their affair to grow serious, but as weeks of deepening intimacy pass, they face the question: can such a mismatch last? Radley’s sure touch with secondary characters lends heart to the cookie-cutter plot development, and the spotlighting of adult illiteracy (Lauren never learned to read) is a fresh touch. Unfortunately, Lauren’s predatory motivations linger for too long into the romance to allow a fully convincing play for sweeter feels in the second half. The poorly edited feel caused by the book’s many repetitions likewise impedes its emotional kick. It’ll do—but barely. (Feb.)