Tag Archives: art

Lease on Love by Falcon Ballard

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Lease on Love by Falcon Ballard

Ballard, Falcon. Lease on Love. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2022. ISBN 978-0593419915 352 pp. $16

****

When misogyny rears its ugly head and Sadie is passed over for a promotion because they went with the boss’s new son-in-law (who has ZERO experience), Sadie’s profanity-laden spouting off leads to her termination. In her wallowing, she decides now might be the time to cheer herself up with online dating (she’s more of a one-night stand type). In one of the best meet-cutes EVER, she sits down for date only to discover the dude in front of her is looking for a roommate, actually. His brownstone is gorgeous and rent is low, so Sadie leaps in and then opts to moonlight as a bartender while she pursues her true passion: floral arranging with local, in-season blooms and found objects as the receptacles.

This is not another NYC 20-something romance. For one thing, Sadie is self-proclaimed supremely annoying. Self-deprecating to a nearly self-abusive fault, she is a bit messy in all aspects of her slap-dash life, has a running verbal diatribe, and is wonderfully redeemed by her warm generosity and humor. Jack, the roommate, is a nerdy gamer reclusive man of mystery who slowly opens up to Sadie, treats her like gold, and intimates he’s interested but just not ready. And shockingly, Ms. One Night Stand realizes A. she wants to bone him and 2. she hasn’t so much as flirted with anyone else in five months because Jack is becoming her everything.

This rom-com has the requisite first kiss… but a more real, welcome, realistic and thank goodness less rare let’s take our time and find mutual satisfaction with consent and patience, and rather than gory details of the first time they have penetrative (it took me like 4 tries to spell that, friends) sex, we glimpse the first time after testing without the condom, and it’s sweet and exquisite and intimate. Obvs, there is the declaration of love, followed by too many secrets, a falling out, and making up–but again, with sweetness and patience and realism.

The diverse supporting characters in this novel are FANTASTIC. Sadie’s ride or die crew are her college suitemates Gemma, a frustrated schoolteacher of Asian descent who wants to make food for a living and Harley, an African-American public defender; and wealthy Nick, who has been hanging around them since college (a nice subplot is his crushing on Harley). They rally whenever Sadie needs something, and befriend Jack (he and Nick have a special bond), even inviting him into the group text chat. The way they all make a family is rich and believable.

There were a few times I found Sadie’s voice a little over the top… and then she redeemed herself by revealing past trauma, or her friends defended her behavior. She was a fully realized, flawed character deserving of love who implements techniques from therapy… and goes back when she needs to do more work.

This was a fast but delicious read, with fun artistic details of becoming a florist and starting your own business and figuring who you are, and who you want to be in your twenties. The cover art feels a little more island-y than Brooklyn, and there was a LOT of drinking (I might be old and judgy) that made me a feel a little out of touch with youth culture, but ultimately this was a very satisfying read.

I received an advance reader’s review copy of #LeaseOnLove via #NetGalley.

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

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The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

Lee, Robinne. The Idea of You. St. Martin’s / Griffin, 2017. ISBN 978-1250125903 384 pp. $17.99

*****

I am obsessed with this juicy novel (possibly based on Harry Styles of One Direction fame) and I can’t put my finger on why. I’ve re-read it more times than I care to admit. Boy band hottie comes on to art gallery owner twice his age after her ex wins tickets that include a meet and greet with the band. Sparks fly and a torrid long-distance love affair ensues.

I am not an art aficionado, a fashionista, or a listener of boy bands, and yet… Hayes’ maturity, Solange’s worldliness, their unlikely relationship … are all very compelling. I broadened my knowledge of mid-century furniture, music, and art, and armchair traveled to exotic locations. And the details of the relationship were frankly, hot.

I think the appeal is the idea that a “woman of a certain age”–which, let’s face it, I am–is the seductiveness of this novel. Solange confident and still has her insecurities, and Hayes is sexy, charming, and oh-so-appreciative of absolutely everything about her.

Five stars for a realistic portrayal of the rock star life, rabid fans who think they own their idols, and the challenges and benefits of a May-December romance.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters, #1) by Talia Hibbert

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Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters, #1) by Talia Hibbert

Hibbert, Talia. Get a Life, Chloe Brown. Avon, 2019. ISBN 978-0062941206 384 pp. $15.99

*****

Tired of succumbing to her chronic illness, a socialite and website designer enlists the help of her building supervisor/tortured artist to accomplish her bucket list. Camping and motorcycling are innocuous, but “experience meaningless (but thoroughly enjoyable) sex” is also on the list. Chloe lives with fibromyalgia, and Red is a survivor of an abusive relationship, and both approach the relationship with hackles up and learn to be vulnerable. This is a contemporary multicultural romance, as well; Chloe is Black and plus-size, and Red is a tattooed redhead.

I loved Take a Hint, Dani Brown, too and can’t wait for the third book in the series.

Fairie-ality: The Fashion Collection from the House of Ellwand by Eugenie Bird illustrated by David Dowton

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Bird, Eugenie, illus. by David Dowton. Fairie-ality: The Fashion Collection from the House of Ellwand. Candlewick, 2002. ISBN 978-0763614133. 130 pp. $40.00

*****

The fashion-magazine size and layout of this weighty volume is no mistake; Fairie-ality is an imaginative presentation of haute couture for fey folk. Based on the premise that faeries have a season, like the tony upper class, and thus require costumes for spring balls and summer swim parties, Bird and Dowton present a photo essay of tiny designer clothing concocted from natural objects: flowers, leaves, acorn caps, feathers and more.

Gowns take shape with peacock feathers, grass blades and petal skirts, paired with birchbark stilletos. Snakeskin adds pattern and texture to basic-cut undergarments. Seeds and shells add embellishment. Pheasant feathers reveal their glorious tones in a pullout section on cotillion collections. Not just for ladies, there are coordinating outfits for men as wel, including a sleek black crow feather jacket adorned with periwinkle shell buttons. There is even a ready to wear section, with pages cut into three horizontal strips for mixing and matching of tops, bottoms, and stylish caps. The pieces de resistance are outfits for a royal family, and the wedding party garments, including a mother of the bride gown augmented with fluffy feathers, a top hat and peacock lined coat for the groom, and a gossamer white lily and feather gown for the bride.

In addition to the crisp, closeup, full-color photography, designer’s sketches and watercolors accompanying many of the final products. The font matches each collection, by turns formal, hip or romantic. The textures are so clear the urge to run one’s fingers over the pages is irresistable. The accompanying text could be straight out of the pages of Vogue. The captions are lush and descriptive, and narrative accompanies each section, outlining the events appropriate for each collection, or whom each piece might be worn by. Readers will spend hours pouring over the pages and marveling at the tiny details. Although not a must have, the excellence in execution and high re-readability rate a high recommended for most browsing collections.

Review by Beth Gallaway