Desert Isle Keeper
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy
Whenever I read a lesbian romance novel, my heart expands by two sizes. As a queer girl, back in my youth I used to long for books featuring heroines who liked girls the same way I did, and that the publishing industry is beginning to open up and publish more queer romance gladdens me. Once Ghosted, Twice Shy, Alyssa Cole’s beautiful novella about two women who thought their relationship was over and lost touch with one another only to be thrown back together by fate is the best f/f romance I’ve read so far this year.
Likotsi Adelele is an efficient doer, but she’s ready to luxuriate in a rare weekend off. She thrives in her position as assistant to Prince Thabiso Moshoeshoe of Thesolo (hero of the first book in the series, A Princess in Theory) and has been busy helping Thabiso as he courts Naledi, who is continuing her education in New York. For Likotsi this has required relocating to Manhattan for the last five months, and trying to get her mind off of her own broken heart. While Thabiso was last in America, Likotsi was matched via a dating app with a woman she thought was her true love – the one – and had nearly left her job with Thabiso to be with her. She doesn’t expect that being stuck in a train will bring her an Airdrop message that brings her back in contact with that lost love, Fabiola C – the woman who hurt her with a harsh digital dumping seven months and three weeks before.
Fabiola (Fab) C – a jewelry artist who works nine-to-five as an accountant – had a good reason for letting Likotsi go. With Likotsi leaving America behind, Fab being stuck in the middle of trying to leave her accounting job to focus on her jewelry business full-time, bad news about her beloved Tati Lise’s immigration status and the possibility that she’ll become her young cousin Angela’s guardian at the same time – Fab figured that it wasn’t worth risking her own heart getting crushed. The men and women she’s loved before never captivated her the way Likotsi did, but Likotsi seemed to only want a fling.
Likotsi takes their chance re-meeting as a sign and agrees to go to a late lunch with Fab. Lunch turns into a whirlwind trip through the city, and soon both women are beginning to open up to one another. But will true love last this time?
Some books are like romantic sighs in paginated forms, and Once Ghosted, Twice Shy is definitely a romantic sigh of a book. Fab and Likotsi’s romance is beautiful – sweet, spicy, and tender at turns – and they both work out the misunderstanding that drove them apart. They have their struggles – Likotsi from letting go of her organization-loving nature and being spontaneous without worrying about being hurt, Fab with balancing her family’s needs and her own – are given a good amount of space to breathe within the short space of the book.
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy also doesn’t shy away from adding a dose of realism to the difficulties of living this current American life, addressing detention centers and the nightmarish labyrinth of the current administration’s immigration policies.
Cole’s writing as flawless as always; her turns of phrase are gorgeous and artistically compelling. She captures the seasonal shifts of Manhattan expertly; the difference between the spring fling that brought the women together and the January day Likotsi and Fab meet again.
Ultimately, the book’s only real flaw was that it felt too short – the biggest compliment I could give it. I wanted more of Likotsi and and Fab’s adventures; hopefully they’ll show up again in another story in the series. Their own tale gets a solid A for being swoonworthy and gorgeous.