“Well… I think we should resume our ‘mutually beneficial exchange of energy…’ on an exclusive basis.”— Astrid, Something Like Love
From my Pride Reads list 2022, here’s Something Like Love by Christina C. Jones, #6 in the Serendipitous Love series! I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Sean Crisden and Wesleigh Siobhan, which was a great experience.
Eddie is a tattoo artist with his own shop, Astrid runs a yoga studio and freelances as a graphic designer — and they couldn’t be more different, personality-wise, if they tried. Eddie is absolutely brash and doesn’t take shit from anyone, which can make him come off as arrogant or condescending, but at his core he’s just a rock-solid dude. Astrid could have easily tumbled into new-age-vegan-yoga-chick, but she delivers her emphasis on emotional atunement with a grounded attitude that subverts the cliché. And the most important part: they can’t stand each other. Well, heaven knows that’s not true — they just don’t know how to handle each other. Astrid is convinced Eddie wants to sleep with her, Eddie maintains she’s seeing things. But as it turns out…
The story begins with our two bi leads, Eddie and Astrid, already in each other’s orbit: as their belligerent-turned-screwball tension turns into delicious, electric back and forth, things really kick off. But the story’s not over yet: the clock’s ticking to see them figure (and most importantly admit) out their feelings. I always know I’m in for a good time when the slow burn is still — or even only really gets — going even after the main pairing have already, uh, got together (🌶🌶🌶). Denial, pining, oh my! These are my favourite tropes in romance, or in any story with a romantic subplot.
Something Like Love does this really well without drawing it out too long. At five and a half hours reading time, this novella is one of the quicker ones I’ve listened to this month, and the pacing is perfectly judged, even if the ending might have benefitted from a coda — but this is nitpicking. Christina C. Jones also has a real knack for packing a lot of characterisation and emotion into just a few observations. Switching POV often enough to mix things up but not too often means we get to see things from both Astrid and Eddie’s perspectives without retreading familiar ground every chapter.
A moment of real talk: Eddie and Astrid have zero patience for bi erasure and biphobia, whether from strangers or family, and I think it’s important to mention that the text doesn’t forget or downplay the biphobia bi women face while also acknowledging the extra helping of prejudice that bisexual men contend with. It’s a prevalent discussion during Pride month, again, and currently we’re in a same-old-but-new cycle of bi women in relationships with cis men being considered not queer enough; bi men being disproportionately and falsely linked with sexually-transmitted diseases; and bi people in general being accused of promiscuity and fence-sitting.
Something Like Love takes on all of those stereotypes and puts them where they belong: in the bin.
The Discourse often centres on the effect of biphobia on bi women, but the erasure bi men deal with both inside the queer community and outside of it is rough and not talked about; and on top of that the conversation is disproportionately skewed towards the perspectives of white queer people unwilling to listen to the Black queer community and queer people of colour. Fire Island, anyone?
It’s important to resist the impulse of feeling as though emphasising intersectionality means disregarding the struggles anyone faces due to social privileges they might have. It’s not a competition, and inequality and inequity are lived realities. The ways my bisexuality are erased aren’t less real or impactful because I acknowledge that being white and cis grants me privilege; acknowledging that BIPOC face additional prejudice does not somehow make it into a competition, either.
This also extends to: this F/M romance is queer, make no mistake. We experience attraction differently, we lead relationships differently, and our partners’ gender does not determine our sexuality.
If you’re looking for Black bi characters, written by a Black woman, this is the place to be. Although it’s part 6 in a series, Something Like Love is a standalone. I’m also very much here for Astrid’s sister’s story 👀 — I was so invested in Aurielle and Kevin’s romance, I’d love to read a book about them next!
Genre Queer Romance
Narrative voice First person, alternating POV
Content warnings Biphobia and bi erasure, mention of stillbirth, surprise pregnancy (not for the main pairing)
Maturity rating 17+