Like Jazz, by Heather Blackmore
Although newcomer Cassidy “Cazz” Warner finds herself entranced by the most popular girl in high school, Sarah Perkins, their mutual attraction doesn’t go beyond more than a few kisses before Cazz abruptly moves away without saying goodbye. Many years later, they are reunited as Cazz, now a fraud investigator, finds herself investigating Sarah’s charitable foundation. The company’s questionable finances seem to be tied up with the recent death of Sarah’s father and Cazz, through her investigation, finds herself uncovering a truth that endangers them both. In the meantime, the women discover that the intervening ten years have done little to dull their feelings for one another.
I enjoyed this book, despite the fact that the name “Cazz” made me twitch a little each time I read it. The best part was that the flashback to high school was in one big chunk at the beginning of the book, rather than being tediously drawn out throughout the narrative. Cazz’s logic for leaving Sarah in high school without saying a word, and never subsequently getting in touch—especially given her strong feelings—still doesn’t quite make sense, though.
Wingspan, by Karis Walsh
Architect Kendall Pearson has spent her adult life trying to play by the rules and hide as much of her personality as she possibly can, but it just keeps peeking out at inopportune moments. When she spontaneously decides to move to an island, she loses her girlfriend but gains a bit of freedom. She unexpectedly encounters an injured raptor and brings him to the local bird rescue center, run by the beautiful Bailey Chase. Bailey has only ever wanted to help birds, and she’s frustrated by the ongoing involvement of outside forces who claim to help but only manage to interfere with her regimented system. For the sake of the birds, she knows she has to accept the new facility offered by a local university, but she’s reluctant to give up any control. However, she finds herself trusting Ken and wanting to know more about her, even as Ken struggles to keep herself buttoned down. The two women find a little bit of what they both need in each other as Ken designs a beautiful sanctuary for Bailey, and Bailey helps Ken become more comfortable just being herself in the world.
This was a pretty low-key romance with just the two main characters having multiple dimensions to them. I wasn’t completely sure how Ken’s traumatic experience from her young adulthood was informing her current behavior, but it didn’t impede my enjoyment that much. Walsh was very good at showing the developing level of trust between Bailey and Ken, and I learned a little bit about bird rescue!
Safe Passage, by Kate Owen
This novella is set in New Orleans in the present day, but features a mystery that involves some family history from 1939. While remodeling the house she inherited from a great-aunt, Jules discovers a safe that contains a gun and some old letters—written in French. She enlists the help of the extremely attractive French teacher at the school where she’s a math teacher and crew coach. They discover that the letters are written in code, and work together to solve the mystery and unravel the truth behind Auntie’s secret love—and Jules’s great-grandfather’s death.
Safe Passage was my favorite of this bunch—short and sweet, with great chemistry between the characters and a good balance of romance, humor, and mystery. Plus, it was so short that there wasn’t time for angsty separation! I look forward to reading more from Owen.