Sometimes you start a book and within a few pages know the pretty much all of the emotional beats of where it’s going. And sometimes that doesn’t slightly matter, you’re going to have so much fun along the way that you won’t care.
A member of the romantic subgenre I saw coined on TikTok recently “Romance books with two cartoon illustration characters on the cover”, I was in love with Delilah Green from the moment I saw her on the front. What can I say, I’m here to be gay, I can’t help it.
Raised by her stepmother after her father died, Delilah Green is back in her sleepy Pacific Northwest hometown for the first time in years, bribed to be the photographer at her uptight stepsister’s wedding. She has few good memories of this place, and would much rather be back in New York City, living her vaguely unsatisying life far away from the trauma of her youth. But then her sister’s bestie Claire hits on her in the bar her first night in town, not recognising Delilah with her new hair and new tattoos.
At this point you know where this is going and are just along for the ride. And what a delightful ride it is, full of warmth, well drawn characters and not a little steamy fun times. There’s even the time that there aren’t enough rooms at the hotel and they have to share a bed, which is as contrived and as fun as it sounds. That being said, I have read several similarly pitched books recently and this stands a cut above the rest.
There are themes of loneliness and the lives we build for ourselves, and because I’m a sucker for it, the themes of the family we choose for ourselves hit hard as ever, even if sometimes that means that it is the family we are saddled with by circumstance.
Maybe it’s just my crush on Delilah, but this is the most fun I’ve had reading this past month, so much so that three days later I read it back to front in one night again. If the way of scoring how good a book was is the number of times I punched the air and yelled “Girls!” into an empty room or a groupchat, then this is top of the pile. Girls. One particular moment is the aforementioned time when the two main characters first meet as adults, a not clued in Claire hitting on a coy Delilah to the latter’s delight. Dammit, I want that for me, it almost makes me want to go back to my hometown and sit at a local bar and find out which one of my class at school turned out to be gay (almost).
There is a setup for a sequel focussed on side characters that is coming out later this year, and I cannot wait to spend more time with Herring Blake’s writing and characters.