I fell in love with Lise Gold‘s books with Northern Lights, the first in the Compass series. The characters in this book and the following one, Southern Roots, make up one of my favourite couples in lesfic. There’s Melissa Brayden‘s Jess and Brooklyn and there’s Hannah and Kristine.
Western Shores is the fourth – but not last, yay! – book in the series. Madison Wilson, Hannah’s half-sister, is a marine biologist, about to start her new (and first) job as a research technician in Santa Cruz, in Northern California. Despite her mother’s misgivings, Madison is set on living in the tiniest and cutest pink house on the beach in colourful Capitola. Ally Santos, her new landlady, also owns the bar next door, Western Shores, and the blue house, in which she lives with her astoundingly intelligent son Theo. Theo’s father, the love of Ally’s life, died nine years ago, when the boy was two, and Ally never imagined falling in love again, let alone with a pink-haired woman who is seventeen years younger than she is.
I’ve said it before, I’m not an age gap fan. I find it hard to believe that two women, in very different places in life, will still manage to have enough in common to stay together in the long term. I don’t always buy the younger character’s uncanny mature way of thinking or, if they act their own age, I can’t see the older one finding them more than cute. No judgement, it’s just me, my experience, my background.
Yet, once in a while, I fall for it. Some authors manage to flawlessly balance all the obstacles and make the attraction feel real. Caren Werlinger did it in the most beautiful way in Invisible, as Music, which, admittedly, is not a romance (but it’s definitely a love story). As much as I have faith in Lise Gold’s ability to write wonderful love stories, I was a bit wary when I found out this new book would feature an age-gap romance. Anxiety is my way of life, so of course I overreacted.
Remind me next time to trust the authors who have already earned that trust. The age gap is addressed from the start, delicately, in pure Lise Gold fashion. The attraction between Madison and Ally flows organically from the first time they meet. Lise Gold has a knack for creating the sweetest, kindest and most charming characters, and Madison falls perfectly in that category. Not only do I understand why Ally would fall for her but I don’t see how she could not. It also helps that, even though Madison is twenty-three and only just starting her life as an adult, with her first job and all, Ally’s life has been rather stagnant in recent years. Madison comes into her life at a moment when everything is about to change anyway. Ally might not see it that way at first, but the timing is ideal.
As usual, the author writes chemistry really well and her love scenes (I’m not only talking about sex here) make my heart melt. The first night Ally and Madison spend together is delightful and a little heartbreaking. And it only gets better from then on. I can’t wait for the audiobook to be released, I have a feeling it will be even lovelier.