Next Exit Home – Dena Blake

Rating: 3 out of 5.
A sort of second chance romance, with a return to home town narrative, this tells the story of Harper who returns back to her home town to look after her Dad’s veterinary clinic whilst he recovers from a heart attack. Addison is the veterinary technician at the clinic and it turns out they have a history from high school.

I’ve thought about this book a lot since I finished it. I read some reviews prior to starting and the general consensus seems to be that it hasn’t lived up to expectations and I think I might have enjoyed it a little more than most, but then I came to a realisation. If you’d have handed me this book 8 or so years ago when I first discovered sapphic fiction, I’d have been really happy, it’s just that I’ve moved on in what I’m looking for now.

I could tell that Blake is an experienced author and that in all likelihood there might be a book in her back catalogue that I would enjoy a lot, but this wasn’t a book that I would return to again.

To me personally it felt like the narrative got lost half way through. The first half was pretty good, but the premise of them both still being hung up on one kiss twenty years ago and it impacting the way they communicate and feel about each other as adults just didn’t connect with me. The lack of communication between the two made the romance between them feel stilted and some of the reactions to situations didn’t feel in keeping with the narrative either.

I found that there were actually times when I enjoyed both of their daughters and their sideline stories more than the actual front and centre romance itself. I also needed more time of them being back together. I feel like I say this a lot about books, but if the main conflict had taken place sooner and there was some solid time together I think I would have felt differently about believing that they would succeed in a relationship and actually communicate.

Whilst I didn’t dislike this as such, I can’t say I would recommend this unless you’re a big fan of veterinary romances, but I’m not ruling out that Blake will have another work that I would enjoy.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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