Thursday, September 1, 2011

Like Lovers Do by Lori Lake

Publisher:           Regal Crest Enterprises

It's been a while since Lori Lake had a new book, but she's returned with a very well written romance.  Lake is an experienced writer and she shows that in Like Lovers Do.

There is more to Kennie McClain than meets the eye.  The casual observer would see a woman who works security in an apartment building and does a little maintenance work in exchange for a small apartment.  What the tenants don't know is that Kennie owns the building.  Although she is friendly, she prefers to keep to herself as she mourns the death of her partner three years before.  Lily Gordon and Max Wallington change all of that.  Lily is a beautiful and famous painter who brings out feelings in Kennie that she wishes she did not have.  Kennie doesn't want to hurt anymore and Lily has a lover who is a real problem, especially because she is a police officer.  Max is a homeless teenager that Kennie saves from a beating in back of her building one day and then allows to move in with her.  For her good Samaritan deed, Kennie finds herself hosting a group of abandoned teenagers and in danger.  All of these new friends are going to open Kennie up to possibilities she had never considered.

Like Lovers Do on the surface is a routine romance.  Two women meet and struggle to have a relationship.  What raises this book above the crowd however is how the book is developed.  Lake is able to reveal a lot about her characters with a few words, so she has more room for a richer story.  Sometimes it's easy to read a book and feel that the characters are flat.  That does not happen here.  Kennie is a particularly appealing person.  Her motivations are easy to understand and her emotions totally realistic.  Her sadness over her partner's death and her sense of betrayal by Lily's behavior radiate off of the pages.  Max is vibrant, vulnerable and the kind of friend Kennie needs.  She opens Kennie up to introspection and a deeper understanding of what she can do for other people.  Lily is exasperating because she won't admit what is wrong with her girlfriend and their relationship, but the reader can relate to that because Lily knows just how hurtful her behavior is for Kennie, yet cannot seem to change it.  Many will recognize similar experiences.  The only character that remains a puzzle is Lily's girl friend PJ.  Even then she remains realistic because she alternates between someone the reader can dislike and admire.

There is another story in this book.  Many gay people find themselves building families of "choice."  In a sometimes hostile world where rejection by family and society is common, they choose who to be close to, share confidences with, join with at holidays and where to place their trust.  These groups may be only gay or a mixture of gay and straight, but their importance is that they supply the support and nurturing that do not come from blood relations.  Kennie creates her family from the people at the Allen Arms.  Lake shows how this dynamic works by contrasting those people with the behavior of Kennie's sister and brother.  The message comes out very clearly that love comes in many forms and not always from the places that most people would expect.

Like Lovers Do is an enjoyable book to read, with intriguing characters and an interesting story.  It's good to see Lori Lake return with such a well written book.

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