3.5* – Despite some sensitive topics (most notably parental homophobia), this is a surprisingly fun and light read.
There’s no love lost between Jennifer and her colleague Ellaine, since Ellaine dumped Jennifer’s best friend, and being sent together on a teambuilding trip sounds like hell to both women. When Jennifer plays a silly prank on Ellaine on the drive there, they get lost in New Zealand’s Kaimanawa Forest. Those 44 hours bring them a lot closer and give Ellaine the opportunity to tell her side of the breakup story. For Jennifer, what comes out of the ordeal is a chance to confirm her attraction to women, and one woman in particular.
44 Hours starts almost as a comedy, then becomes more serious but it never gets too angsty. That’s due, mostly, to Ellaine’s personality. Her kindness and quick sense of humour lighten even the darker moments. Ellaine, who’s been out since her teenage years, grew up with love and the certainty that she’s worthy of that love. Jennifer, on the other hand, repressed her feelings for women because of her mother’s bigotry. Getting to know Ellaine and falling in love with her helps her embrace her own strength and stand for what she wants.
Both Jennifer and Ellaine are sweet and endearing characters, each in her own and very different way. The secondary characters are interesting too, especially Jennifer’s ex and her sister.
If you’ve read Donna Jay’s books before, you probably expect some BDSM. While there’s some sort of power play in 44 Hours – a leopard cannot change its spots –, it’s very very light. But sexy. Of course.