Arden Powell has been on my radar for a while and I’ve been collecting their books, but lesbians is what finally broke the seal (I am but a simple lesbian lol) and now I want to dive into the whole Flos Magicae backlist to see all the characters in their own stories.
Deepa is a singer at a club and doesn’t believe in love, so when one of her paramours curses her to become a leopard every midnight and tells her the only way to break the curse is true love’s kiss, she’s ready to become a face-eating leopard. Her friends Aaliyah and Jasmine decide that because no man has ever interested her, the answer is obviously that she should try the sapphic side of things, and they take her to a lesbian bar. There she meets Roz, a mechanic by day and boxer by night, and she is immediately smitten, which is a completely new experience. But as they kiss more and more Deepa becomes despondent that she’s correct and true love doesn’t exist because her curse hasn’t been broken.
One of my favorite elements of this book was the community and chosen family. Deepa is surrounded by so much love, and her relationship with Roz only grows her circle with Roz’s family at the mechanic shop and Kells, the woman who taught Roz how to box. I do wish we’d gotten to see more of Roz’s life and friends, but this was Deepa’s story.
I also really loved that Roz never tries to change Deepa. She respects that she wants a glamorous life, and just wants to know that she’s enough for Deepa outside Deepa’s flirtations and machinations for money and gifts from men. Especially as Deepa’s goal is to make a better life for herself and her mom, who is also one of the best characters in this book. There is some navigation of jealousy, but there’s also really great communication, and I love that this is an atypical happy ending, but the kind of happy ending that works best for Deepa and Roz’s wants and needs.
All around I’m so glad I finally took the plunge and read a Flos Magicae book (they’re all supposed to be standalone, and from my experience with Of Socialites I’d say it’s true, but there’s also enough cameos to make you want to read the whole series) because it was a perfect fun, sweet, magical romance with some great explorations of what true love is (a choice that you make every day!) and how community can make even difficult situations a little more manageable.