Wasted Heart

by Lynn Galli

Cover image

Publisher: Penikila
Copyright: 2010
ISBN: 1-935611-32-1
Format: Kindle
Pages: 252

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Austy is a lawyer working for the US District Attorney's office in Seattle. Six months ago, she moved there from Virginia, in large part because she fell in love with her best friend. Her married best friend. Now, she's trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to deal with the Seattle lesbian scene while becoming (successfully) the go-to lawyer for prosecuting cases with a substantial technology component. Two things are about to complicate that life: meeting and working with FBI special agent Elise Bridie, and working on a case that involves her best friend's company. Yes, that best friend.

This is, as you might have guessed, a lesbian romance novel, so with that should come my "reading out of genre disclaimer": it's rather easy, when reading a genre one normally doesn't read, to find books fresh and interesting when they're unoriginal to regular genre readers, or to miss genre conventions or reactions because one has not read the previous work. You should therefore take my opinions with a grain of salt, particularly if you read more romance novels than I do (which wouldn't be hard).

I grabbed this book for a few reasons: I felt like reading a warm-hearted story focused on human relationships, I wanted a reasonably fast read (since I'm obsessed with meaningless numeric milestones, like how many books I read in a year), and I wanted something with an upbeat ending. Romance generally delivers on those fronts. Lesbian romance has the added bonus of avoiding a whole bunch of gender essentialism and heterosexual romance tropes that tend to give me hives. Landing was excellent, so I thought I'd see if I could find more of that.

Wasted Heart does indeed deliver, although it's not quite as good as Landing. There's a bit too much physical attraction and love based on appearance for my taste, but Galli leavens that with quite a lot of interesting psychology. Both Austy and Elise are private and cautious people, and for me that makes the romance feel more realistic. It also draws out the initial phase of getting to know the other person, which is the part of the romance that I often find the most interesting. Elise in particular is a great character — maybe a little too ideal in a few places, but smart and observant in a way that's very fun to read about. Like a lot of romances, there is some annoying miscommunication and misunderstanding (predictably right around the height of the tension), but it's not quite as stupid as those problems usually are, and Galli doesn't drag it out until one starts wanting to hit the characters with blunt objects.

As good or better is the community that surrounds the main characters. Galli has a full cast of believable and interesting characters, most notably including Austy's old gang from Virginia. The tensions between having a group of friends one cares about deeply, wanting to build a new life after making a major break and major decision but having difficulty sustaining that under the onslaught of those friends, and being easily tossed about by expressive and outgoing people when one is private and a bit quiet all play out here. And, refreshingly, without a lot of angst, and with quite a bit of intelligent introspection. Both Austy and her friends are smarter and more considerate than most of the characters I've seen in this sort of situation.

Another good bit is the little pieces of legal drama. Galli doesn't neglect Austy's work life, and while this is certainly not a legal thriller or procedural, we do get some nice scenes of Austy doing her job. I love courtroom scenes, particularly ones (like these) that are more on the realistic side, so that was a nice bonus. Austy and Elise's jobs also lead to a somewhat predictable bit of drama, and I was a bit less enamored of that; the more I thought about it, the less well it hung together for me. But I did like that it stayed firmly on the realistic side, including a look at psychological aftereffects for real people rather than thriller protagonists.

This is not the sort of book that I would tell someone to rush out and buy, but it met my criteria nicely and delivered just the sort of entertainment I was looking for. (And it's not particularly expensive on Kindle, at least in the US.) There was a bit too much focus on physical appearance and physical infatuation, and Elise might be just a little too perfect, but I enjoyed it.

Note that I read the special edition, which includes a (much appreciated) epilogue that closes out the story. That seems to be the default edition for sale everywhere I look, but in case you see the older version, I recommend the special edition.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed: 2012-12-30

Last spun 2013-07-01 from thread modified 2013-01-04