Jae – Perfect Rhythm

Pop star Leontyne Blake might sing about love, but she stopped believing in it a long time ago. What women want is her image, not the real her. When her father has a stroke, she flees the spotlight and returns to her tiny Missouri town. 

In her childhood home, she meets small-town nurse Holly Drummond, who isn’t impressed by Leo’s fame at all. That isn’t the only thing that makes Holly different from other women. She’s also asexual. For her, dating is a minefield of expectations that she has decided to avoid. 

Can the tentative friendship between a burned-out pop star and a woman not interested in sex develop into something more despite their diverse expectations? 

A lesbian romance about seeking the perfect rhythm between two very different people- and finding happiness where they least expect it. 

REVIEW
Pardon me, as I wake myself up from literary slumber, dust off the cobwebs, and write this review. It’s going to take me a bit to get back into the swing of things, but what better way to do it than reviewing the latest novel by author Jae?

Here we go!

So usually, I spend a very minimal amount of time skimming through the summary on the book jacket before diving in. When I read on the description of Perfect Rhythm that one of the main characters was asexual, I didn’t think that the author was being literal. I don’t recall ever reading a story with an asexual character, main or supporting cast. But let me tell you… This novel sure does feature one. We’ll get a bit into that a little later in this review.

A characteristic of Jae’s writing that I really enjoy is that her narrative is like candy for the sensory. How Jae describes pictures, music, passion, and energy with her words is a downright devilish treat for the senses. The imagery that Jae uses is vivid, and it’s just the right amount to lead you on the path of your own imagination to experience the story in front of you. The description of Leo’s hometown and its contrast to the urban jungle of New York where she currently resides is charming and quaint. It almost feels like it’s straight out of a children’s storybook. Particularly, this one for me:

little house spring
*Anyone else (old school like me) remember The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton?*

Leontyne Blake (aka Leo, aka Jenna Blake, aka Pop Star Panty-Dropper) follows her dreams to New York and finds fame and fortune. She leaves Missouri far behind her, until she’s brought back home after her father has a second stroke. Leo has become hardened, burnt-out, and jaded through her life experiences in the big city, and fights to keep a distance with people for fear of being hurt and taken advantage of. Sort of like Holly Drummond, who’s been burned by the women she’s dated in her past, so she keeps everyone at friends-only-reach. Leo and Holly live in two completely different worlds. On the surface, their wants and needs don’t seem very compatible. One of the biggest obstacles in their relationship: how do they bridge the gap between sexual and asexual?

Leo and Holly’s relationship is only one part of the story. Running parallel is Leo’s estranged relationship with her father. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: Leo’s inherited the gift of musicianship from her father, who was a renowned violinist and piano-teacher. Her father has a disdain for pop music and doesn’t accept the path that Leo has chosen with her life. How do they heal from the wounds of the past? How do they come to an understanding? How does Leo and her father bridge the gap between classically-trained musician and pop-star?

Jae does a fantastic job at bridging the gaps, in a way that doesn’t compromise who the characters are as people or the things that make them happy as individuals. The care and the respect in which the author wrote the story, its characters, and of the topic of asexuality, which is often misunderstood and misrepresented, is beautifully done. I think the quote that best describes Perfect Rhythm is this one: “As far as she was concerned, love was love, no matter what type of love it was.” The expressions of love and the diversity of people who love are limitless, just as there are endless ways of playing music. There is no love or expression that is any more or less meaningful than another. And just as there is great concertos and etudes, there are great pop songs and rock melodies.

Send a love note. Hug someone.

Sing “Love Is All You Need” off-key. Strum a guitar.

Pick up a book…. especially, this one. Perfect Rhythm is not one to be missed!

SOUNDTRACK
1. Aretha Franklin – (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
2. Vitamin String Quartet – New Soul
3. Jess Glynne – Hold My Hand
4. Etta James – Something’s Got A Hold On Me
5. Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This
6. Lily Allen – Somewhere Only We Know
7. Rebecca Ferguson – Nothing’s Real But Love
8. Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do
9. Adele – Make You Feel My Love
10. Amy Winehouse – (There Is) No Greater Love
11. Ella Fitzgerald – Cheek To Cheek
12. Vitamin String Quartet – Can’t Stop The Feeling!

CHEERS!
This book would be best served with….

HANGAR 24 ORANGE WHEAT

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JC Chasez

“I see the beauty in your strength, baby
And you fight to keep in you
But I break down your walls with my army of love

Take a journey through my heart
It’s a test of fate
As we hold each other close, our spirits gravitate
Let’s drift into forever as our boundaries melt away”
Lose Myself

Rachel Spangler – Perfect Pairing

PerfectPairing.jpg

Hal Orion is an accomplished chef and food truck owner. She loves her life, her longtime sous chef and best friend, and the food she shares with the residents of her beloved city of Buffalo. Her life is exactly how she wants it: no strings, no commitments, no roots- just great grilled cheese and a whole lot of freedom on the side.

Quinn Banning is an investment banker, and the dividend she seeks is a resurgence of the once-great city of Buffalo. Putting together her next business venture, she recognizes Hal’s talent and charm as necessary assets for success- her good looks don’t hurt, either. But Hal’s transient ways are in direct opposition to the stability Quinn craves. Relying on their shared love of Buffalo, Quinn makes Hal an offer she can’t refuse- a restaurant under her own name, complete creative control, and secure financial backing. It’s every chef’s dream. But Hal utters the one word Quinn can’t stand to hear, “No.”

Will their physical attraction grow cold as they argue over their ideals, or will they find that the most distinctive ingredients often make for the perfect pairing?

REVIEW
What’s up with all these lesbian authors and their sinfully delicious food descriptors?! I feel like I need to hit the gym a few extra hours after reading through their novels. Seriously! Packing on the literary pounds here reading about all this food.

In Perfect Pairing, Rachel Spangler brings out her inner-chef to cook a mouthwatering story for her readers. Sausage + Maple Syrup, Chocolate + Bacon, Beef Jerky + Rolo, Mac&Cheese + Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Banana + Peanut Butter, French Fries + Vanilla Ice Cream… Foods that are independently yummy, but explosively tasty when they’re paired together in a way that isn’t easily assumed. This would best describe the two protagonists in Perfect Pairing.. Where opposites attract and together create an exquisite entree of luuurve.

At first glance, Quinn and Hal couldn’t be any more different. Spangler presents an interesting juxtaposition in lifestyle and position for the two main protagonists in the story. Quinn, banker-extraordinaire, dresses like she’s going sailing when she’s in casual-ware. Stability, for her, is everything and she keeps her feet firmly fixed to the ground. Hal, chef-extraordinaire looks more like she just rolled out of bed in the morning and lives a nomadic existence. Quinn presents an offer that she assumes Hal can’t refuse, but when she does, she makes every effort to try and convince Hal to see things her way and stay in one place. Hal would much rather have her four-wheeled freedom and tells Quinn to take a hike. But Hal’s stubbornness has met its match in Quinn’s tenacity. These two have a lot to learn from each other, and initial appearances and impressions can sometimes be deceiving. They eventually find out that they have a lot more in common than they expected and the ways Hal and Quinn discover each other will keep you turning its pages.

This was my first Spangler novel and holy-moley, did it make me hungry for more! The chemistry between the main characters Hal (aka “Fryboi”) and Quinn sizzle like hot bacon in a pan from start to finish. This perfect pairing is definitely one that you won’t want to miss!

Bon Appetite!

SOUNDTRACK
1. Justin Timberlake – Sexy Back
2. Natalie Merchant – Torn
3. Nsync – Girlfriend
4. Merril Bainbridge – Mouth
5. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
6. Britney Spears – Sometimes
7. Shawn Colvin – Sunny Came Home
8. Melanie C – Reason
9. JC Chasez – Lose Myself
10. Justin Timberlake – (Another Song) All Over Again
11. Backstreet Boys – Don’t Wanna Lose You Now
12. Sarah McLachlan – Ice Cream
13. Melanie C – Water

CHEERS!
This book would be best read with a….

MICHELADA
-3 oz of tomato juice
-12 oz of Mexican-style beer (I recommend Modelo Especial)
-1 lime
-4 dashes of Tabasco
-2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
-2 dashes of Maggi
-Tajin
-2 cups of ice

Rim the glass with Tajin. Fill the glass with ice, squeeze the lime juice over the ice, tomato juice and beer. Add Worcestershire sauce, Maggi and Tabasco, and stir. Garnish with a lime wheel on top.

**Sneak Peek**

“Fair enough, but I don’t think you’ll have to wait too long. Give me three minutes to make a pitch and your gratitude for knowing me may just burst out of you like little rays of cheesy sunshine.” Hal sat on the bench facing out with her elbow resting on the table beside her. “When you phrase it like that, how can I tell you no?” “You can’t tell me no, Hal.” Quinn flashed a smile that seemed more practiced and controlled than the earlier one, but still very effective.