We meet April and Dennis just before they meet each other. The first couple of chapters of For the Love of April French capture perfectly that feeling of endless possibility when you meet a potential new romantic partner – all the wonder of meeting someone you want to know better and all the fear that they will be awful, or reject you when they get to know you. It’s an expansive, joyful, terrifying feeling and Penny Aimes nails it.
For the Love of April French is going to end up on my list of favorite reads for 2021. It is an unusual romance, and not because the author and main character are trans women. Aimes plays with the structure of the alternating POV using it to show connection and disconnection. The romance is kink heavy, but it’s not the kind of physical sensation kink more common in BDSM romances. Instead it’s a mental/power kink [spoiler] power exchange with long term orgasm denial, clothing approval with a little sugar daddy/financial power exchange, and doll play[end spoiler].
Penny Aimes has blown me away with her talent. April and Dennis dive into this intense relationship that requires enormous trust and vulnerability while at the same time holding back central pieces of themselves. Aimes is so good at showing her characters hold these conflicting emotional states in the same body at the same moment. The alternating POVs allow us to sink into their hopes and insecurities. We spend a long time with April seeing only her perspective long enough to accept her belief that eventually her relationship with Dennis will end. And then we spend time with Dennis, feeling his tension and vulnerabilities. As the two become more in synch, the POV changes come more quickly.
There is some fairly heavy emotional stuff, but no violence. Both April and Dennis feel broken in ways and their relationship is intense. One of my favorite things in a book is when characters go to the therapy, and Dennis and April each have their own therapy journey. It’s an incredibly thoughtful and well considered book. For the Love of April French is not a romance that you go through like potato chips and it’s gorgeous in it’s difference.
I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.