Pining and Loving by Emma Sterner-Radley 

What a fantastic novel. How could I choose what book follows that?

What was the book about?
Gwen suffers from depression, but her daily pick me up is a gorgeous customer that comes into the coffee shop she works in. She fondly calls the customerMocha, but she hasn’t the courage to ask her out. WhenMocha tells Gwen she’s moving, Gwen decides to make her move; but in doing so, meets the other woman vying for Mocha’s attention, Aya.

Ex-boxer Aya doesn’t have much going on in her life, with no job and her boxing career down the drain. Her one solace is watching fellow gym-goer, Susannah; but when she finds out Susannah’s leaving her town, she has to leap into action, which is way out of her comfort zone. 

When Aya and Gwen meet while tracking down Susannah, they become friends, but really can that be the case when they both want the same woman?

Featured Tropes: Opposites-attract/ Butch-femme/ Friends to lovers/ Oh the sex!

Book Strengths:
Emma Sterner-Radley stunned me with this book. She went above and beyond in her writing, and honestly, this book was an absolute triumph. Not only is this a fantastic story, but the author was incredibly brave to write about a subject that usually (not always) gets left out of romance novels; because what’s romantic about mental health? Well, this novel blew that perception out of the water.

Gwen is such a wonderful character to read. She wears her heart on her sleeve and is probably one of the most caring and lovable characters I have ever read. She is also incredibly upfront about having a mental health condition, which honestly, I wish everyone was. It would reduce the stigma surrounding the subject. And Aya, I wish everyone was as accepting and understanding as she was …wouldn’t the world be a better place? There were moments I couldn’t understand how Gwen could hold back from falling for Aya completely. She is just a wonderful and caring person. I finished the book having a major crush on Aya. I want these two to be my real-life friends, not just my fictional ones. 

Character Chemistry:
With friends to lovers tropes, it really builds the chemistry nicely, and this book is no different. The chemistry increased nice and steady until bam it’s there at the forefront. And oh the sex! I need to tip my hat to Emma Sterner-Radley for writing some scorching sex scenes because wow – where did that come from? She can write me a sex scene any day of the week. 

Heat Rating: 4

Wrap up:
Very powerful. I am excited to see what comes next from Emma Sterner-Radley.

Star Rating: 5

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