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While doing renovation on the old New Orleans home inherited from her great aunt, Jules discovers an old safe filled with letters written in French—and code. Enlisting the aid of a local French teacher, the beautiful Gen, Jules slowly begins to learn the truth of her great grandfather’s death…
Safe Passage is a delightful lesbian romance novella set in contemporary New Orleans, and follows Jules, former rowing Olympiad who is currently teaching high school math. This school setting is a perfect set-up since she discovers an old safe in the house she inherited from her aunt, and inside there some old letters in French. From that surprise mystery, it gives her a splendid opportunity to talk with Gen, the hot toddy of a French teacher at her school, and Gen is just as interested in finding out the meaning of these hidden letters, and the long ago secrets they reveal (as well as have the chance to spend some quality time with Jules.)
Kate Owen’s first work, published in 2014, was one of my picks for the blog’s New Author week, and I was happy to find it such a fun read. I haven’t read much f/f romance yet, and I found this definitely a great choice to launch off from. Jules is a funny and charming MC, and she might have that hot athletic body that comes from all that rowing, but she’s also humbly sweet, and admittedly has “little game,” so it’s not surprising that Gen pretty much has to intentionally spell out her interest. I loved their flirty dialogue as they learned more about each other, and overall I found the dialogue and writing nicely naturalistic and real. (I won’t lie, I felt a little swoony every time Jules called Gen the Cajun endearment of “cher”. (Maybe it’s all that Gambit I loved from the 90’s X-Men…)
I’m not normally a straight-up contemporary romance fan, but this was a sweet read, and I found the mystery of the letters added a nice impetus for these two stars to start orbiting around each other, and things like miscommunication conflicts didn’t have room to surface to make things unnecessarily complicated. Both Jules and Gen were refreshingly adult, even as they texted and emailed each other little notes, or as Jules worried about revealing some of her hidden self.
If I had a down point, it would be that the mystery itself is pretty light. I think part of that is due to the length of the work, since it’s around 28,000 words, so not a huge amount of space to balance complex mystery with strong character development, but did I enjoy that the relationship was given time to grow and feel real and not rushed.
Overall, this is definitely the type of contemporary romance that I like—sweet, a little sexy, refreshingly adult in how people treat each other, great dialogue, zesty chemistry, and a fun, light story that’s very readable.
If you’re looking for a lesbian romance to try, I would definitely recommend this one. I would look forward to either further adventures of Jules and Gen, or whatever Owen decides to work on next.