Series Name: Bright Falls, #3
Iris was here.
At the Empress.
Stevie felt dizzy, embarrassment clouding into her cheeks as she started at the redhead she’d puked all over just seventy-two hours ago.
The redhead her entire friend group thought she was having sex with.
No, not just having sex with.
Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date is queer romance perfection.
Everyone around Iris Kelly is in love. Her best friends are all coupled up, her siblings have partners that are perfect for them, her parents are still in marital bliss. And she’s happy for all of them, truly. So what if she usually cries in her Lyft on the way home. So what if she misses her friends, who are so busy with their own wonderful love lives, they don’t really notice Iris is spiraling. At least she has a brand-new career writing romance novels (yes, she realizes the irony of it). She is now working on her second book but has one problem: she is completely out of ideas after having spent all of her romantic energy on her debut.
Perfectly happy to ignore her problems as per usual, Iris goes to a bar in Portland and meets a sexy stranger, Stefania, and a night of dancing and making out turns into the worst one-night stand Iris has had in her life (vomit and crying are regretfully involved). To get her mind off everything and overcome her writer’s block, Iris tries out for a local play, but comes face-to-face with Stefania—or, Stevie, her real name. When Stevie desperately asks Iris to play along as her girlfriend, Iris is shocked, but goes along with it because maybe this fake relationship will actually get her creative juices flowing and she can get her book written. As the two women play the part of a couple, they turn into a constant state of hot-and-bothered and soon it just comes down to who will make the real first move…
I absolutely couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book after reading the second book in this series, Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail. I loved it so much. I am happy to report the third and last instalment in the Bright Fall series did not disappoint. I loved everything about it too. Happily, this book can be read as a stand-alone, but the whole series is so great, you aren’t going to want to miss the other books. It is a little more fun to read them in order, as the couples from each book continue to show up in subsequent ones, but you won’t feel lost if you start here.
Ashley’s writing is just so fun, smart and filled with warmth. I loved getting sucked back into Bright Falls and all the shenanigans of this delightful found family group. This time, we get to know Iris, a character I loved in the first two books for her humour and wild nature. You can always count on Iris for a good time. But even the so-called party girl gets tired of being a party girl sometimes, and I loved the depth that we get to see in Iris in this book. Iris may have the title credit here, but we get to know Stevie just as deeply. The story is told from alternating perspectives. I LOVED Stevie. Stevie has a serious anxiety disorder and Ashley did a wonderful job of writing about Stevie’s experience of it with care. It really highlighted for me how different anxiety can look for different folks.
Now fake dating is not always a trope I enjoy, but somehow here it worked for me. I think because there was a sense of caring. Too often the fake dating is about two people using each other in a sort of ruthless fashion and I think that’s what turns me off. Here, Iris goes along with the fake dating because she is trying to help Stevie save face in front of her friends. Yes, she is also looking for inspiration for her next book, but Stevie enthusiastically wants to help her with that. And that’s the difference for me. They both genuinely, not begrudgingly, want to help each other. It makes for a more realistic transition into a real relationship. As we watch their admiration and affection for each other grow, it feels very real, very rooted, and it is a joy to read.
You cannot go wrong with Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date, I highly recommend it.
Thank you, Berkeley Romance for the ARC, in exchange for an honest review.