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Breathless by Sarah Sanders

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Short, sweet and sexy – we loved this book. Lara is a movie star whose career has crashed and burnt. She is in the throes o...

One Small Step by M.A. Binfield

⭐⭐⭐☆★


Coming of age need not always be during the teens. Exploring oneself, finding who you are and being assertive about your needs and personhood can happen at any point in life. While this one might be considered a slow-burn toaster oven romance, it is so not that. It is a story about coming into one’s own, albeit close to the thirties.

Cameron Hansen has been with Ryan for four years and is engaged to him. When Ryan got a position in London, she moved from Seattle with him. The relationship between Cam and Ryan suffers from routine and lack of effort leaving Cam not completely satisfied or happy. An ex-journalistic student, Cam has given up words and joins a law firm as an accounts office assistant and also joins the company football team. Iris Miller works in operations in the same firm. She’d been in Dubai for a few weeks and when she returns she sees Cam in the changing room getting ready for football practise. Iris had a bad break-up in the past when her girlfriend cheated on her. Following that, Iris went on an uncontrolled spree of hook-ups and one-night stands leaving many broken and bitter hearts in her wake. Newly reformed and determinedly single, Iris is nevertheless intrigued by Cam and the two women start getting to know each other. They find more things in common, including poetry and books, and enjoy each other’s company. When the quick-building friendship moves into an attraction and not-entirely-platonic zone, things unravel.

Rather than slow burn, this is a very well-paced build-up of a relationship. We loved the conversations and interactions between Cam and Iris as they were getting to know each other. The building attraction and unconscious falling for each other was so well done that we found our heart thudding with anticipation. We simultaneously wanted to race ahead to know how it unfolds and wanted to slow down and savour the feelings so well written and described. To enjoy the process of falling in love.

However, after the almost-kiss and subsequent reveal of the attraction, Iris went downhill for us. After that point, the onus of saving and building the relationship was put entirely on Cam with Iris’ only contribution (if you want to call it that) being putting a distance, running away and never expressing her feelings. Given that Iris believed that her lack of communicating played a big part in the demise of her previous relationship, this continuing non-communication was mystifying. In the second half, Cam is the one taking chances, talking about where she is, expressing feelings, reaching out, going out on a limb, taking chances, making leaps of faith despite being alone in the whole process. In fact, Iris cruelly throws Cam’s confidences about her past actions and vulnerabilities in Cam’s face and demands decisive actions from Cam while offering nothing in return. Through it all (and even in the first half) Cam remains constant – whether it was standing up for Iris when they were getting to know each other and as friends to being honest about her feelings later. We would have liked Cam to have a partner more worthy of her than Iris is.

We like that both, Cam and Ryan are grey in their relationship together. Cam’s existential ennui exacerbated by a humdrum relationship is very convincingly written.

The latter part of the book didn’t appeal to us but we still thoroughly enjoyed it. As a book about coming of age it is fantastic, as a romance, we’d have like a more loving partner to Cam. But on the whole, a good read.  

⭐⭐⭐☆★

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