Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary F/F romance from Kris Ripper. THE BUTCH AND THE BEAUTIFUL is the second book in Kris’ Queers of La Vista series and centers on a butch lesbian high school teacher whose fear of abandonment has stunted her ability to find a long-term gal. I really liked GAYS OF OUR LIVES, so I decided to read on in the series.
About the book:
Jaq Cummings is a high school teacher who really wants a committed relationship—as long as it doesn’t keep her out late on school nights or interrupt Sunday mass with her dad. She is absolutely not about to fall for the hot-mess divorcée she hooks up with even if said hot mess pushes all her buttons. Jaq’s white knight days are over.
But one hookup with Hannah becomes two, then coffee, then more incredibly hot sex. And unlike most of Jaq’s exes, Hannah’s not looking for someone to come on strong. In fact, Hannah comes on plenty strong enough for both of them. But she’s just out of a disastrous marriage, she’s in the process of moving across the state, and Jaq can’t take a chance on yet another relationship where she defaults to being a caregiver instead of a partner.
Just when Jaq decides her relationship with Hannah is far too precarious, a crisis with a student reminds her of her priorities and makes it clear that sometimes, you have to take big risks to get what you really want.
Jaq is a butch lesbian in search of Ms. Right, perhaps. She’s never had a long-term relationship, and her loving father and close friends all believe it’s because Jaq is afraid to really love someone, with the possibility of losing them–like her mother who died of cancer when Jaq was a child.
This is the second book in a series, and I think it reads fine as a standalone, but two threads carry over from the previous book: the unsolved murder of a transvestite entertainer, and the (nearly incestuous) interconnectedness of the queer community in La Vista, a small Frisco-Bay-area suburban town. Prime example? Jaq and Hannah meet because they are both exes of brides at a wedding. Hannah’s a sexy attorney going through a bitter divorce, and not averse to a hot time with Jaq. Their one night stand becomes more when Hannah reveals she’s moving to La Vista, to escape the LA scene, where her ex is a clebrity chef, and shacking up with one of her employees.
Jaq likes Hannah, but their mutual friends, and Hannah herself, warn Jaq that Hannah’s a bit crazy. Thing is, Jaq soon recognizes that she likes Hannah’s crazy, because it’s a wild and aggressive sexy streak. Jaq swoons for her, but questions if this is the right thing to do: build hopes and dreams on Hannah. Hannah’s still battling with her ex over the sale of their house; she can’t possibly want anything serious.
The book is a low-conflict read, with Jaq being a bit of a jerk when Hannah flakes, once, on their plans. She’s always looking for a reason to dump a gal, which is pointed out with brutal honesty, and then Jaq needs to make amends. There also some nice subplots regarding Jaq’s position as a high school teacher, and how she supports the school GSA, and the kids who she knows are falling through the cracks. Her relationship with her father is so lovely, and her baby-wanting bestie is a tough love champ. The characters all read like I’m watching them in real life, and that’s the sign of a good book, for me. There’s lots and lots of sexy moments, and it’s all very steamy. And sticky, because vegan whipping cream is apparently just as fantastic as a sexytimes aid as the bovine-made stuff. Yum.
I liked that Jaq made things right between her and Hannah, and that Hannah was willing to listen. She’s a very human character, willing to share her sordid past, and work to build something special. Their compatibility was palpable, and I liked that the whole “crazy” notion was really more “eccentric and excitable” than serious-meds-are-required. Not that I’m opposed to characters who are disturbed, just that Jaq didn’t seem able to begin a relationship with a partner who had a mental illness. We got some more insights into the La Vista queers, and I’m sure interested to find out more about this world.
About the Author:
Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a toddler, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and has no pronoun preference, but the z-based pronouns are freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!