Publisher: Interlude Press
Release Date: March 8, 2018
Received From: NetGalley
Curved Horizon picks up a few weeks after the conclusion of Fortitude Smashed with Daisy Yuen and Chelsea Cavanaugh, whose Camellia Clocks draw close to timing out.
Navigating the in’s and out’s of love is hard enough as strangers destined to be soul mates and proves even more complicated when Daisy shares ugly, dark secrets that linger in her and Aiden’s past.
Meanwhile, Shannon and Aiden continue to explore their own new relationship. With Fall comes an unforgettable one year anniversary, but when Shannon suffers a life-threatening incident on the job, Chelsea, Daisy, and Aiden must find a way to let go of their pasts to make room for their futures.
SEXUALITY: bisexual, demisexual
TROPES: soulmates, found family, unlikely pairing, friends to lovers
TAGS: new adult, contemporary, fantasy, romance, queer romance, queer characters, Chinese character, Asian character, POC character, ownvoices
WARNINGS: mental illness (PTSD, depression, dysthymia, anxiety, panic attacks), rape, attempted rape, child abuse, domestic abuse, physical injury, slurs, gendered slurs, gaslighting, cheating, ableism, hospitalization
Yet again, Taylor Brooke has written the book of my heart. This book is as painfully stunning and touched me just as deeply as the first one did.
In this story, we follow Daisy and Chelsea in the direct aftermath of events that occurred at the end of FORTITUDE SMASHED, most notably the attempted sexual assault of Daisy. The fact that this novel is a continuation of the first, but from different points of view, is one of the things that I really appreciated and think worked in its favor. Everything is still fresh and new and festering unhealed, and we, as the readers, get to follow along as all four of the main characters are forced to come to terms with their lives and find ways to live in their present, instead of their past.
While this story is in part a romance, I would say it’s more of a healing, coming of age narrative. Chelsea and Daisy undoubtedly build a romance together once their Clocks time out, but it’s not romance just for romance’s sake. The two women are friends, who end up falling in love, yes, but who are sources of comfort and support for each other. They’re a shelter in the storm when the other has nowhere else to turn. And one thing that I loved about their friendship and relationship is that they are honest and communicative with each other. At times brutally so, while tender and gentle at other times. They ease their way into the kind of warm, welcoming relationship neither of them realized they needed.
I also enjoyed the fact that both Chelsea and Daisy are able to finally break free of the molds they seem to fit into. When they’re introduced in the first novel. Daisy seems like your typical goth, artistic wild child, while Chelsea seems like your standard prissy princess, and it’s not until the very end of FORTITUDE SMASHED that we begin to see the cracks in those facades. With CURVED HORIZON, we’re able to finally dig deep and learn their true selves. We get to see the soft and sweet sides, along with the strong and fierce. It’s breathtaking to watch the two of them realize that they don’t have to be who people expect them to and accept parts of those facades while pushing other aspects to the side.
Also, I absolutely adored the friendships within the novel. There’s, of course, Aiden’s and Daisy’s, which was absolutely heartbreaking. Those two are so good at pretending nothing has happened that it was soul crushing to see them finally forced to face the demons of their past and somehow come out stronger on the other side. Chelsea and Shannon’s relationship was lovely to read, because I enjoyed watching it go from uncomfortable to a softer, sibling-like relationship. What I especially adored, though, was the development of two new friendships: Aiden and Chelsea, and Daisy and Shannon. Aiden and Chelsea are so much alike that it’s not surprising they’d butt heads, but it was so stunning to see them recognize this and turn it into a friendly antagonism that also left room for serious talks. And when Aiden said that he loved her? I cried. Shannon and Daisy’s friendship was a bit more on the fun side, and I loved the way the two of them were able to joke around together.
And speaking of relationships, I really, truly adored the way Brooke wrote Chelsea and Daisy’s romantic relationship. Daisy is demisexual, so sexual attraction was not going to come straight away for her, and Brooke did a phenomenal job of writing the slow ease from friendship to attraction. (Side note to say that I LOVED the fact that Chelsea already knew what demisexuality is when Daisy came out to her.) They did an amazing job with respecting Daisy’s boundaries and showing Chelsea’s willingness to move at Daisy’s pace. This is the kind of demi romance that I want to read, the kind that makes me feel validated as a demi reader.
Another thing that I think worked really well for the novel is the fact that Aiden and Shannon were still vital to the story, had points of view in the novel, and played a significant part in pushing the plot and character development. These two were clearly not the main characters of the novel–it’s definitely Daisy and Chelsea’s book–but all four of these characters are so intertwined that it would have been next to impossible, and incredibly jarring, to have this story exclude Shannon and Aiden.
One thing that I was really relieved not to see in this novel was the sudden appearance of Vance. In romances, especially ones that are partially driven by past trauma, authors have the unfortunate tendency to make their characters come face-to-face with the person who’s hurt them, whether they want to or not. I liked that Brooke didn’t force Daisy or Aiden to see Vance.
I could gush on and on about this book, but I’ll stop myself here and just say one last thing: READ THIS SERIES.
Taylor Brooke is a traveling story-teller, believer in magic, and a science fiction junkie.
Probably a tea snob. Definitely a beer snob. Bisexual, but pansexual, but bisexual – one of the two. Can have lengthy, in-depth conversations about an atomic lizard and his radioactive moth friend. Yearns for a life in the city, but dreams of founding an animal sanctuary. Future tiny house owner. Future tiny library owner, because her book collection won’t fit in one tiny house.
Proudly writes inclusive Queer novels for teens and adults.