by Skye Kilaen
Series: Love at Knockdown #1
Also in this series: Shake Things Up
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
A butch lesbian parolee. The pretty pansexual nurse who got away. Is this their second chance at a happily ever after?
Finn is finally out of prison, which is great. Having no job, no car, and no place to sleep except her cousin’s couch? Not so great. Plus, her felony theft conviction isn’t doing wonders for her employment prospects, so she can’t afford her migraine meds without the public clinic.
The last thing she ever expected was for the gal who stole her heart to come walking down that clinic’s hallway: Vivi, the manicure-loving nurse who spent two years fighting the prison system to get proper medical care for her patients, including Finn.
Finn could never believe she imagined the attraction and affection between them. But acting on that in prison, especially as nurse and patient, had been a serious No Way. She’s had eight months to get over Vivi, who abruptly left her job without saying goodbye. Finn is over it. Honest! It’s totally and completely fine.
Except Vivi, here and now, doesn’t seem fine. And Finn couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t try to help.
Is fate offering Finn a second chance? Or is finding love as likely as finding a job with health insurance?
Content warnings: View Spoiler »migraines (on-page), medication insecurity (in-prison and out of prison), housing insecurity, unintended pregnancy (including discussion about whether to have an abortion or not), transphobia (trans prisoner housed in wrong section), homophobia (MCs’ parents, not on-page), side character who was in motor vehicle accident and is now in chronic pain « Hide Spoiler
I have my issues with illustrated covers, but when I saw this cover on Twitter I just about melted. And it was absolutely perfect for this book and for Vivi and Finn. This was my first book by this author but will definitely not be my last!
“Maybe there would never be a right time for them. Maybe the way they’d started was the way they’d go on, coming in and out of each other’s lives only when all signs pointed to not now and not like this.”
I tend to avoid books with ex-cons, just because they inevitably either ignore the systematic inequalities that got them there or those difficulties overshadow the romance. While some of the situations are inherently depressing (discussions about the prison system and the difficulties facing an ex-con), the novella is overall not that angsty. The main conflict is Finn and Vivi learning to communicate with each other out in the real world. Finn’s obviously readjusting to life outside of prison, trying to secure her migraine medication, looking for a company that’ll hire someone with a felony conviction, and trying to figure out someplace to sleep that’s not a couch. But from the beginning she notices that something’s not quite right with Vivi, and Finn just desperately wants to be the person that can support her. Finn seriously gets all the heart-eyes from me. It’s ridiculously sweet, and I loved them together.
“When she’d fallen for someone romantically before, it had been a rush, fast and bubbly. With Vivi it had snuck up on her, slow and sweet and comfortable, and by the time Finn had realized what had happened, it had been all around her.”
Since this is a novella, I liked that they had an existing relationship to build on, and I think the bits and pieces of that relationship were worked well into the story, like Vivi’s relationship with her family. I also loved the diversity of characters in the novella. Finn is a butch lesbian and Vivi is a very girly (glitter! pink!) pansexual, plus there’s several other LGBT characters and a character with chronic pain. I especially loved Nora and Will’s coffee shop (which is a good thing, since it seems like the series is loosely set around that coffee shop) and that they normalized introducing themselves and their pronouns.
Overall, this was a sweet and quick novella, and I can’t wait for more from this series. I do hope we get to see more of Finn and Vivi!