The Final Rose
Every so often I find an f/f romance that really resonates with me. The Final Rose by Eliza Lentzski is that book. It’s got a great premise, a relatable heroine, and a familiar romance hook. The setting is a reality dating show like The Bachelor—only two of the contestants fall for each other. Sound cute? It totally is.
Although I’m not a fan of The Bachelor, I love the idea of two women ditching the guy and running away together. I didn’t expect to get so caught up in the backstage drama and production details. There are friendships, rivalries, sweet surprises, and plenty of prime-time twists.
My favorite part of the story, however, is the heroine. Nokomis Reed is a graphic designer and a Canadian-born member of the Ojibwe tribe. The Final Rose is written in first person from her perspective. Nokomis’s mother is a huge fan of the show. She signed Nokomis up to be a contestant. Nokomis agrees to participate, but she doesn’t know what to expect.
Another contestant named Candace takes Nokomis under her wing. Candace is an expert in dating show lingo and strategies. She calls Nokomis “Pocahontas” and makes other casually racist remarks, but she also gives excellent advice. The two women forge an alliance of sorts. Candace says that kindergarten teachers or flight attendants always win the final rose.
Enter Lee, requisite kindergarten teacher. She’s an angelic blonde with a caring manner. She’s sweet and sometimes awkward, but sincere. Nokomis hits it off with her immediately. So does Jacob, the star of the show. She’s an early frontrunner in the competition.
Jacob is a nice guy, handsome and easy-going, but Nokomis has zero chemistry with him. She’s hot for teacher, and Lee shares the attraction. They sneak away for an island adventure together and indulge in a sizzling one-night stand. I expected them to get caught on camera, but they don’t. I also pictured Nokomis and Lee in the final two. I won’t give away the ending (of the show). #nospoilers
After the filming wraps, Nokomis returns to the reservation where she lives with her mother. She mopes around with her best friend, a handsome auto mechanic she’s known since grade school. Unlike Jacob, and Lee, to some extent, this character leaps off the page. I’d love to read more about him, which exemplifies what is both a strength and a weakness in the story.
Nokomis is such a well-developed, nuanced heroine that Lee seems a little pale in comparison. Mouthy Candace, despite her flaws, is a more interesting character. Everything is vibrant, from the show dynamics, the daily challenges, the unique settings and Nokomis’s cultural background. The author excels at creating this rich tapestry that Lee doesn’t pop against. It is Candace who makes a sacrifice for Nokomis. Lee sort of sleepwalks into Nokomis’s affections, literally and figuratively. She is an angelic, and surprisingly sexual, fantasy.
They get back together for a televised reunion, followed by some heartfelt confessions and a happy ending for all. Lee was just okay for me, but I really loved Nokomis. I wanted her to win everything and I read the whole story with a smile on my face.
What about you? Are you ready to try f/f, if you haven’t yet? Some romance fans are reluctant to read f/f pairings for whatever reason. “Love is love,” unless it’s between two women and then nope. But most of us enjoy a hero’s point of view as he falls in love with the heroine, and makes love to her. I don’t feel that the same scenes from a woman’s POV are that much different. If you’re open to more than the G in LGBT, this is a great place to start. It’s one of the best lesbian romances I’ve read in a long time.