Kelleen reviews Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler

the audiobook cover of Out on Good Behavior

Amazon Affiliate Link | Affiliate Link

I know Dahlia Adler from her hilarious and heartwarming queer YA romances and her stewardship of LGBTQ Reads. But when I saw that she had a college-aged trilogy in her backlist and that the third in that series was SAPPHIC, I ran, I did not walk to get my hands on it. 

And thank god I did. 

I loved this whole series—which centers around three college roommates as they deal with hard real life challenges and fall in love—so much, and even more with each successive book.

Watching the relationships between these women grow and evolve over the course of the series as they too grow and evolve is so rewarding. Lizzie, Cait, and Frankie are with each other through thick and then through thicker, and their platonic love story really is the major series arc.

But the sapphics! The third book, Out on Good Behavior, follows Frankie and her multi-book joking crush on Cait’s seemingly straight roommate Samara, the daughter of a southern Republican mayor. Frankie is pan and believes that everyone she meets is at least a little bit gay (a theory that has panned out for her in the number of times she’s hooked up with a person who previously considered themselves straight). Frankie is loud and brazen and tatted and hot, and she’s not used to not getting someone she wants. But Samara (who is a lot a bit gay, by the way) doesn’t want a hookup. And Samara doesn’t believe Frankie can commit. Beside herself and everything she’s ever thought she knew about who she was, Frankie decides to try, but also insists they won’t sleep together for 30 days to prove it to Samara (and to herself) that she’s capable of monogamy. 

Is there anything more deliciously horny than an abstinence pact?? Frankie is a cocky dreamboat and Samara is a quiet, bookish badass, and their romance is such a gift. The loving queer community, the quiet insecurity, and the ability to see each other for who they truly are all add up to a vibrant, vulnerable college romance. 

Samara is a YA enthusiast, which is an absolute delight in the hands of a YA author. It is so clear how much respect Samara and Dahlia Adler have for the genre and it’s readers. And Samara’s internal struggle against her own conservative Christian upbringing as she fights to stand up for who she is and who she wants to be hit me directly in the chest. I loved the gentle exploration of Samara’s virginity in contrast with Frankie’s liberation, and the way the power dynamics between them always felt careful and balanced  

I listened in audio, and the narration is so compelling and authentic. It’s a first person, single POV which are two things I usually HATE in a romance, but this story told in such a way (and especially on audio) felt so intimate and honest.

This book is delicate and raw and mature and absolutely beautiful. If you’ve ever loved one of Dahlia Adler’s books, do not sleep on this series. 

Content warnings: Christian shame, familial rejection 

You can read more of Kelleen’s reviews on her bookstagram (@booms.books) and on Goodreads.