Reviewed by Jess
AUTHOR: Yolanda Wallace
PUBLISHER: Bold Strokes Books
LENGTH: 240 pages
RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2017
Before Grace Henderson began working as a tailor in her father’s bespoke suit shop in Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn, she established a hard and fast rule about not dating clients. The edict is an easy one for her to follow, considering the overwhelming majority of the shop’s clients are men. But when Dakota Lane contacts her to commission a suit to wear to her sister’s wedding, Grace finds herself tempted to throw all the rules out the window.
Dakota Lane works as a bicycle messenger by day and moonlights as a male model. Her high-profile career, gender-bending looks, and hard-partying ways garner her plenty of romantic attention, but she would rather play the field than settle down. When she meets sexy tailor Grace Henderson, however, she suddenly finds herself in the market for much more than a custom suit.
This is Yolanda Wallace’s twelfth book and my personal favorite work of hers so far. Wallace has proven to be a varied writer who crafts diverse characters in a wide range of settings, and this take on a simple, sweet, butch/femme love story really showcases her soft writing style and firm grasp of lesbian romance.
Grace and Dakota’s relationship develops slowly and naturally. There might be instant attraction and easy friendship, but there’s no insta-love—these girls put in the work to prove they’re right for each other. Their realizations might not be easy or come simultaneously, but rather than make us frustrated, their slow courtship makes us fall in love along with them. And I like how they each accept the other for exactly who they are. When Dakota schools Grace a little on dated gender roles in the modeling and fashion industries, Grace makes professional changes instead of becoming offended (Dakota herself seems comfortable with she/her pronouns but would fall into more on a non-binary or genderqueer spectrum).
The side characters are also richly-written and help better characterize Dakota and Grace. We learn a lot about a person through their relationships, and watching both women with their sisters (annoying and troublesome as they can be) shows how loving each woman is in their own way.
You’ll find yourself just as immersed in the world of menswear design as you’ll be in the romance. I learned so much about how different fashion design can be on the men’s side of things (including the tailor asking whether the suit-wearer “dresses left or right” in case they need a little extra room in the inseam for…well, I’m sure you can guess). Grace might be a gorgeous femme who wears dresses and heels, but the drool-worthy fashion in this book all comes from the suits and the sexy butch woman who gets to wear them.
This story reads easily and flows smoothly. It had me smiling from the first page, and while the ending might be a little too picture-perfect for some, I absolutely adored it. This is a lovely classic lesbian romance.