Al Rosenberg reviews It’s Complicated by AJ Adaire

itscomplicated

Tori works at the hospital where her lover, Liz, has been in a coma and on life support for the last few years. Tori spends her days, almost all of them, working and sitting with Liz. Her only friend is a nurse named MJ. Then enters Bev. This slightly older woman takes an immediate liking to Tori after a very cute meet-cute. She’s beautiful, athletic, intelligent, and wealthy. But Tori can’t leave Liz, even knowing there’s no hope of her recovering. Thus begins a very sexually tense and overwrought friendship.

Tori and Bev begin to spend a lot of time together. More time than the worst lesbian joke would have you believe lesbians spend together. They go biking, the go hiking, they make meals together and for each other. They set up their best friends with each other, who end up moving even faster than the two main characters. And they talk. They talk incessantly. They talk about their feelings, and their attraction to each other, and how poor Liz is in the way of them being together. They talk until they kill the very chance for subtle tension or believable attraction for the reader.

The narrative is reiterated every new conversation. Tori talks to her parents about it, to her therapist about it, to her best friend about it. Yet it only becomes more confusing why Tori can’t work on letting go of Liz, who she accepts as having died long ago, and start working on a relationship with Bev. A relationship that is already happening in all but name. Tori takes Bev to her parents place where they are a little farther away from Liz and deeper into the constant feelings processing with each other.

Bev has her own dark, sad background, but not her own voice. The words that are attributed to her could easily have come out of Tori’s mouth. The therapist is another series of conversations that give Bev room to tell the reader absolutely everything that she is thinking and feeling. The only villains in the story are Liz’s entirely absent homophobic parents, and Tori’s own self-doubt. Only one of these is conquered.

The tagline on Adaire’s site is “Let me tell you a story with a happy ending,” and that rings true here as well as her other works. This is not a great romance, but it is a lesson in being overly honest and upfront with your feelings.

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