Every time I read a book by Jesse J. Thoma, I remember how much I enjoy the way she combines heavy topics and light writing. Despite being book 3 in a series (after Serenity and Courage), this book can be read as a standalone. That said, there are recurring characters, and since the other books are really good, I’d recommend reading in order.
A newly-minted State Representative, Sophia Lamont has been taught to always strive for perfection. An impossible task, both in politics and in life in general. As the youngest representative in her State and a Black woman, she’s used to extraordinary expectations and fear of failing is high. When the party leaders ask her to sit on a community committee tasked with drawing up recommendations on curbing substance use, she’s warned to stay away from Reggie Northrup. Reggie, a corrections officer, has her own very personal reasons to distrust politicians such as Sophia, but the attraction both women feel from the moment they meet makes it very difficult to keep their distance.
The story starts a little slow. Stick with it, it’s worth it. One of the things I love in this series is that it’s all about drugs and addiction but not in a dramatic way. Some parts are dark and the author doesn’t romanticize addiction, but the overall feeling is one of hope and possibilities. Thoma really cares about substance use (she wouldn’t have written this trilogy if she didn’t), so some readers might feel there’s a bit too much talk about policy. I can see why but I didn’t.
I love the relationship between Sophia and Reggie. I love the flirting and the way they talk to each other, even when it’s scary, or hard. They’re not perfect, they make mistakes, say things they shouldn’t. There’s something fascinating about Sophia, who is at once very assertive – both in her private life and in politics – and needs reassuring at times, probably because of the pressure her parents put on her and her brother growing up. Reggie is a more basic – but not less endearing – character, a big-hearted butch struggling to make her own path, away from her father’s reputation and influence.
As lovely as the MCs are, a big part of what makes the Serenity Prayer books so enjoyable is the secondary cast. The best friends, Sophia’s brother, as well as characters we’ve met in the previous books, such as Kit, and, above all, the Zookeeper, one of my favourite morally grey characters, complex and fascinating.
This book is an interesting blend of instalust and slow burn. Sophia and Reggie start flirting on their first meet and almost never stop. The sparks are everywhere and it’s all very exciting. Yet they take their time before getting to the first kiss, and they don’t jump in bed together immediately either. They let things happen in an organic manner (or at least they would if life didn’t get in the way). All the edging and sexy talk are pretty damn hot too.
Wisdom is a good conclusion to the Serenity Prayer books. If you haven’t started this series yet, add it to your TBR!