4.5* – I really have to stop equating Christmas romances and light and fluffy. Some are dark and broody and they deserve just as much love and attention.
Frankie and Gwen were best friends from the time they met at 6 and 7. Their friendship led to teenage kissing but not much more as one day, Gwen left without saying goodbye and never came back. Until twelve years later.
The way it began, this should have been a hard story to read. Gwen and Frankie grow up in dirt-poor single-parent households in Williamsburg, Virginia. Gwen’s father is abusive and a drunk. Frankie’s mother is a loving woman with a bad reputation. Most of the book takes place when Gwen and Frankie meet again, as adults, but their childhood and what both went through as children weighs heavily on their lives and on their relationship. Lust and resentment have to fight it out before love can make its way into the fray. A lot has happened since the last time they saw each other as teens and Gwen is now a successful businesswoman, Frankie heads a busy renovation company and is the mother of an unusually bright child. A lot is unsaid too. How did Gwen manage to become one of Seattle’s most sought-after venture capitalist? Why did Frankie inherit Gwen’s father’s house? So many questions that need time, serenity and bravery to be answered. For all Gwen’s convinced she and Frankie are made for each other, getting to know each other again and not let their bodies set the pace isn’t that easy. The ending is slightly rushed yet remains plausible given the characters’ history.
Midas Touch is my first book by this author – Alex Hall is the pen name of Sarah Remy, a non-binary queer author – and it made me rush to check what else they have written. Their writing style ticks all the boxes of what I like. I could feel the heat, I could feel the cold, I could hear Gwen’s drawl. I could smell the river and the earth, I could feel the mud between Frankie’s toes, I could hear the house creaking. And because of all that, of that way of describing not with long sentences but with the exact right words, the right pace and rhythm, I could feel the undeniable chemistry between Gwen and Frankie, and understand from within why Gwen calls Frankie the sun to her moon.
Let’s hope Alex Hall writes a lot more lesfic, they’re really good at it.