I have to admit this up front, this review is incredibly biased. I’ve been internet friends with the author for a couple of years, encouraged her to write, joined her patreon and discord, and think she’s one of the few decent people left in this country. If this book was boring and bad, I’d still love it. But it isn’t! So that’s nice, not having to lie about liking something a friend made! Especially when my name is in the Acknowledgments!!!
Soft Flannel Hank is a romance about a witch on the run from vampires who winds up in the Pacific Northwest, where she meets an ex-cop with some serious depression and a hero complex. If you’re thinking that vampires in the PNW sounds familiar, yes, this may have started as a thought experiment for Team Charlie Swan, but Eliza has definitely created her own world with her own characters, and no one fucking sparkles.
But romance is a genre that, for me, is less about plot and more about ~vibes~ and oof the feelings in this book. What I love is we open with Hank in therapy. Here’s a MMC who isn’t waiting for a woman to fix him or is unaware of his issues until a woman comes along. Is he in the best place when Esther comes along? Absolutely not. But he’s trying, he’s aware, he’s working on it.
And Esther is lovely, too. She’s bisexual, which is never an issue or even explicitly stated, but she talks of ex-girlfriends and boyfriends. As a bisexual woman, I appreciate Esther having this as part of who she is without it being a defining characteristic or forcing her to come out to every person she meets.
More than the plot and the characters and the setting, what sets this book apart for me is the writing. It is lush and emotional and evocative. I cried several times, once through a spicy scene! (Oh, yeah, these have some excellent spice, too.) I’m finicky with words but Eliza’s language hits me all in the feels.
I’d recommend this book even if I knew nothing of its creator or development. There are exciting things happening in indie romance, so many cool books getting self-published and authors bringing their own chairs to the table instead of waiting for someone to give them a seat. Eliza MacArthur and the Elements of Pining is a shining example.