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ARC Review: Wherever is Your Heart (Moonlighters #3) by Anita Kelly

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Synopsis:

How long, exactly, had June been coming to Moonie’s for the sole purpose of pining after the bartender? 

She certainly didn’t come for the karaoke. Even though the karaoke made her smile sometimes. All these young queers with their off-key, bouncy energy. They made Mal smile, too, June knew. Even if Mal tended to hide her smiles. 

But she saved them sometimes, for June.

Maybe Mal had secret smiles for other women, when June wasn’t around. There was probably no good reason for Mal Edwards, a bastion of stability and good sense, to see any kind of future with June anyway. Was it even fair to express feelings to a woman like that when you spent months away on the road?

But as another Pride weekend approaches, June’s fiftieth birthday and the eventual end of her long-haul trucking days loom in her mind, nestled against the memories of Moonie’s nights gone by where it felt like June and Mal came close—close to something happening, something real. Until June would inevitably chicken out. Retreat once again to life on the road. 

It’s time for June to finally figure out her next act. And if she’s not brave enough to ask Mal Edwards to be part of it, she doesn’t deserve her, anyway.

After all. If you can’t tell a butch you love her during Pride, when the hell can you?

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved this So so much, and related to Mal and June so hard. Their love is quiet but it shines through every moment of the story, every word and every action and every look they share. I also loved that the conflict wasn’t external. It was an internal will-she-or-won’t-she brooding that was easily dispelled. The getting together was so natural and comfortable it just felt right.

The writing is so beautiful and I highlighted so many lines to refer back to. The one about being alone but together was just. Exactly how I’ve always felt with my partner. I crave that quiet companionship and it was so nice to see it on the page. Also, I too went to college in California and then went up the coast to (almost) Oregon and love the rugged pacific coast so. This novella stole my heart in a lot of different ways.

Even though I haven’t read the first two novellas — which I will remedy now — it was easy to know and love Mal and June. They were just so honest and easy together, and felt so real and present as characters despite the fact that this is a novella. The customers at the bar were only on the page for a brief time but I am intrigued by them and excited to read more.

*thanks to Anita Kelly for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes

“Mal,” she said, quiet. “Your whole body relaxes when you talk about her. I’ve never even met her but I’m half in love with June Davis just from the way you say her name.”

Wasn’t that what love was, really? Doing beautiful, funny things, just for the hell of it. Because you wanted to. Because the other person made you feel like you could.

“We’re going to look like two beached whales,” she muttered.

“Good,” I said. “Whales are majestic as fuck.”

As if I would have something to say about this, her being a secret civil engineer, other than being supremely turned on.

Well, this was a delight. Calling each other by our full names. Which seemed way too simple a thing to elicit such pleasure in my spine, but there it was.

“It’s true,” I said slowly, “That I like being alone. But with you… it’s different. Like we can still be alone, but together.”