Blurb (taken from the publisher)
Renowned composer and lyricist Giselle Bonnaire suffers from anxiety disorder and agoraphobia. She needs a driver and housekeeper or she won’t be able to work. Tierney Edwards, a restless, wandering soul, is on the move again, never staying in one place more than a few months. The two women are each other’s opposites, one nomad and one recluse, but when destiny places them together, their mutual attraction can’t be denied. Giselle knows her heart will break when Tierney moves on again. But Tierney has never felt so at home, which scares her. Can these women, so bruised by life and experience, find a way to break free of the past—or will they have to say good-bye?
As a queer woman with an anxiety disorder and agoraphobia I was really excited to read this book and for the most part it did not disappoint. The romance is a little slower than I usually like but it seemed right in this book. With Giselle’s anxiety disorder it felt like she needed things to move slowly and it worked well in this context.
One of the things I loved about this book is that although Giselle has an anxiety disorder and is unable to leave her property at the beginning of this book, she is still portrayed as having a full life. She has friends, a career, pets. Her life isn’t portrayed as a tragedy even though she often can’t leave her home. Giselle is very privileged so of course it’s not realistic for most people with agoraphobia but this is a romance novel and agoraphobic people who can’t leave their homes should be able to read an idealised version of their lives with agoraphobia (ideally I would not be agoraphobic at all but that isn’t an option for me so reading about someone who is able to live happily with agoraphobia is important).
I love reading novels with characters who are care experienced and there are two characters in this book. Tierney is a care leaver and Stephanie, a teenager who Tierney has been in contact with through an online group for care experienced people, is still in foster care. I thought the characters were very well written.
Overall I thought Giselle’s anxiety disorder and agoraphobia were written well and I could really relate to her and her reactions.
Content warning (spoiler)
The only thing that I really did not like in this book is that there’s a scene when Giselle is having a panic attack and Tierney touches her, Giselle asks Tierney not to touch her and Tierney does not let go. So often neurodivergent/mentally ill people are touched without consent during panic attacks and meltdowns and for me it is a big violation of that person’s trust. I think in these situations people should seek consent before touching so to have a character who not only does not get consent but ignores the characters expressed wishes was a big problem for me.
At the end of the novel Giselle has had her dog trained as an emotional support dog and although she still struggles she is able to leave her home. I liked this. I thought it was realistic (emotional support dogs are amazing and I wish everyone who needed one had access to one) and it showed that there is hope for agoraphobic people.
Disclaimer: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.