(Find it HERE.)
There’s a lot of things I expect from romance novels, and intersectionality is not one of them. However, that’s exactly what this book offers and it’s an interesting surprise. Main girl Carli is a Hard Of Hearing undergrad from a troubled background. Main guy Reed, a handsome grad student, is not only Deaf, but a transracial adoptee (mixed Latino adopted by a Black/White interracial couple). This isn’t presented in a gimmicky way at all–Brown (who is also Hard Of Hearing) does a really good job of immersing readers into the Deaf community through Carli, who is learning sign language and a host of other things after a a lifetime of trying to fit into a very unsympathetic hearing family. Reed is asked questions about his background, but it comes across as natural within the story (although the moment Carli discovers his mother is Black is very awkwardly described.)
The diversity isn’t gimmicky, but I can’t say the same for the romance itself. Romance novels by nature are a little trite and this is no exception–grumpy hot guy and snarky hot(yet insecure) girl find each other irresistible, do cute things, do sexy things, have a contrived misunderstanding, get over it and live happily ever after. But this one also relies pretty heavily on Carli being a broken bird with a horrific background of abuse, flirting with self-loathing and danger–which Reed suffers through because he’s hopelessly devoted (and horny). In my teens and twenties I ate this trope up but as I’ve gotten older it’s a lot less appealing. It doesn’t make the book unreadable, but I tend to like romances more when the main conflicts are based on compatibility conflicts, not abuse or prejudice.
One more thing–this has a pretty high steam level, which I actually appreciated. Everyone deserves to love and be loved in the body that they have, if they so desire. Disabled people get down just like anybody else and I’m glad that was included explicitly here.
This isn’t my favorite romance, but it was a good one, and it’d make a good beach read for the summer. 4 stars and a fresh set of hearing aid batteries to Signs of Attraction.
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