I was ready for the Ask, Tell series to stop at two extraordinary books. I am so grateful E. J. Noyes thought a third one was necessary. If the Shoe Fits is the perfect ending (or maybe not? One can always hope) to a trilogy that is so much more than romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love romance novels but these are next level. Way above. There are so many feelings and emotions, so beautifully written, that I had to take breaks in my reading so as not to forget to breathe.
Jana Fleischer is a serial dater trying to find the perfect guy, the one whose little quirks won’t annoy her so much. She’s turned not-committing into an art, blaming her career as a successful divorce lawyer for her lack of time and interest. Falling (literally and figuratively) for a woman has never been her plan, not only because she doesn’t want to walk in her sister Sabine’s footsteps as far as her love life is concerned. Enter Brooke Donnelly, the woman she didn’t know she needed in her life.
If the Shoe Fits can be read as a standalone, but don’t. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and read the first two books, they’re some of the best I’ve read in years. Also, even though this is Jana’s story, Sabine and Bec are more than minor characters in this instalment.
Like other readers, I resented Jana a little in Ask Me Again for her misdirected anger at Bec. While I could empathize with her frustration, I didn’t like that she added to Rebecca’s burden. I loved how much she loves her sister, though, and her friendship with Bec, among other things. If the Shoe Fits gives her a starring role, and I didn’t realise how much she deserved it. She’s smart, vivacious, driven. When she begins to understand that she’s not as straight as she thought she was, she’s not bothered. Confused, definitely, but she embraces the situation fully, because, nitpicking about men’s mannerisms aside, that’s how she is. It’s that uncompromising quality that, at first, makes it difficult for her to understand why Brooke, who has been an out and proud lesbian for many years, isn’t as prompt as she is to let the whole world (in particular, her father and employer) know how delightful their relationship is.
E. J. Noyes is one of the smartest and most talented writers I’ve read. She keeps taking her readers to unexpected places. With her string of dates and almost blasé view of life, Jana should be the obvious one to be wary of getting too involved in the relationship, and yet it’s Brooke who tries to slow things down. While the irony doesn’t escape her, Jana doesn’t shy from her quickly growing feelings. She doesn’t worry that Brooke’s quirks, her anxiety, her past, don’t annoy her. She simply goes for it.
There’s so much to love in Noyes’ books that I worry I’ll fall into spoiling territory if I write too much. So in a few words: great (and lighter) way to end the series, fantastic characters as usual, awesome writing, steamy sex scenes. And yes, communication, in and out of the bedroom, is sexy. Very, very sexy.