I don’t review every book I read. I hadn’t really planned to review this book because I didn’t particularly have anything well formulated to say. But, for some reason, I was looking at the reviews on Goodreads and saw that someone got big mad because Linden and Jasper-Ann are both pansexual. That reviewer only wants straightness in their romance – that’s what they actually said and a whole lot of people liked their review. And now I’m mad that they were mad and I’m writing a review. There are all kinds of queerness, and some of that queerness might look like a man and a woman in a seemingly heteronormative relationship. Woooo! Spite reviewing!
Linden is a tree doctor and prefers to spend his time in forests with trees and not with other people. Jasper-Ann was just publicly fired as a political strategist after having a hot-mic incident complaining about her boss. She and her husband are separated and divorcing. Her whole life has come down around her ears and she doesn’t have a plan for the future beyond hiding in her late aunt’s cabin. On top of the life falling apart, she now has to face her guilt for not spending more time with her aunt and for ignoring the cabin she inherited for a couple of years. Now the cabin is uninhabitable, but Jasper is determined to fix it without help.
Linden has his life plan set – live alone near a lot of trees, interact with humans as little as possible, find a willing partner of any or no gender on the occasions he wants to have sex, hang out with trees. For all that Linden is a loner, he is every bit as managing as Jasper. Jasper is trying to do everything herself and Linden keeps trying to help, but not in a kind helpful way. He’s not wrong, but he’s not nice. Jasper-Ann tries to repay him with badly baked goods. Eventually, he offers that she can use his shower, laundry and kitchen while he is out during the day (as long as she promises to stop baking, she does not promise). When things get particularly bad, he makes her walk with him in the forest. Jasper introduces him to fancy toast. There’s groping, flirting, and figuring out life, because they both need to do that.
“Because years are not wasted. You were alive. You lived those years. You experienced more than a job in that time.”
“No,” he interrupted with a firm squeeze to my ass. We were doing that now. Ass squeezing. “Come on. Over here. Look at this old oak tree.”
Jasper-Ann and Linden are surprised by the attraction and relationship that happens almost unwillingly between them. Jasper has a harder time letting go of her plans for the future, and watching them both come to grips with falling in love with each other was delightful.
For all that the reviewer was mad about the queerness, I had forgotten until I read their review that Linden and Jasper-Ann were not straight. There was a past pansexual orgy mentioned, but only briefly and with a disappointing lack of detail.
Content warnings – past death of parent by suicide, past death of unrequited love interest, divorce, public embarrassment, toxic work environment, grief, house fire.