*Note: This was an advance review copy provided through NetGalley – scheduled for release on February 5, 2014 from Less Than Three Press.
To some degree selecting this story has elements of Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: I know I am unwrapping an F/F romance, but the rest is a “surprise”. Unfamiliar with the publisher and the author, I am mildly concerned that my time reading will not be recouped.
“While doing renovation on the old New Orleans home inherited from her great aunt, Jules discovers an old safe filled with letters written in French—and code. Enlisting the aid of a local French teacher, the beautiful Gen, Jules slowly begins to learn the truth of her great grandfather’s death …” was the publisher-provided blurb on NetGalley’s website.
Julia “Jules” Delacroix is a 30 year old Math teacher who has inherited her father’s flair for cooking, loves rowing, and using her straight friend Beth as a sounding board. We meet her as she renovates the home, discovering the hidden safe whose contents puzzle her. Genevieve Dubois is the honey blonde to whom Jules turns for help in her efforts to decipher the French correspondence. On the same faculty, Gen is a French teacher at the New Orleans all-girls’ school who inserts herself into the investigations her colleague has sought assistance with.
In this novella there are few surprises in the plot and characters. The author has written a romantic mystery “lite” that provides us with a brief snippet of the intertwining lives of two lovely ladies. While many of the story elements could be considered predictable, the author’s ability to craft a very natural progression in Jules and Gen’s relationship is worth noting. Their deepening relationship is marked by plausible hesitations, realistic pacing, and a believable attraction. The dialogue is most noteworthy – flowing smoothly, fitting the settings and characters beautifully, and distracting me from the plot cliches so that I enjoy this sweet romance.
Frustration colored my conclusion of this story as it felt slightly rushed in comparison to the remainder of the tale. However, I must acknowledge that my response might be tainted by the all-too-brief glance I was given into Jules and Gen’s lives. The story focuses on a little more than a week, including flashbacks embedded with clues and I have admitted to being dubious of such fast-moving romances. There is a lot of detail provided by the author, allowing me to immerse myself in this short span of time, and I will acknowledge the macro-lens approach to this writing works for a novella such as this.
Observing two characters laugh and tease one another, respecting each other and not indulge in hurtful behavior was a pleasant way to spend some time. If you are looking for an agreeable read to occupy you, then the reasonably priced Safe Passage might be the book to distract you for a little while. It is fun to discover a new author who has potential and to anticipate future works she might generate.
To download a sample or purchase Safe Passage, click here.