Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Diversity: LGBT (f/f, asexual character, lesbian character, aroace side character, queerplatonic side relationship)
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Cover: A friend of mine said it looks like a Taylor Swift cover. She’s kinda right, isn’t she?
Trigger warnings: acephobia
Description: Pop star Leontyne Blake might sing about love, but she stopped believing in it a long time ago. What women want is her image, not the real her. When her father has a stroke, she flees the spotlight and returns to her tiny Missouri hometown.
In her childhood home, she meets small-town nurse Holly Drummond, who isn’t impressed by Leo’s fame at all. That isn’t the only thing that makes Holly different from other women. She’s also asexual. For her, dating is a minefield of expectations that she has decided to avoid.
Can the tentative friendship between a burned-out pop star and a woman not interested in sex develop into something more despite their diverse expectations?
A lesbian romance about seeking the perfect rhythm between two very different people—and finding happiness where they least expect it.
Review: I’ve got a love-hate-relationship with this one.
I can’t promise this review will make much sense, but I’ll try my best. I’ve got a special treat for you though!
But let’s start with the review itself:
I love Holly. She is a great and interesting character. Her being ace is simply a part of who she is. Leo is harder to love… a part of this may be the way being seen as a sex object has shaped her…
Anyway, I really enjoyed their romance, because guess what? No love at first sight! Instead they have a kinda rocky start and then they begin to get to know each other. Slowly. And they fall in love. Slowly. I’m all for slow burn romances, because they always feel more real and they really show and don’t tell.
And thanks to this book being all about character development we get to read about other than stuff than love as well. I like more plot than simply see-for-the-first-time-fall-in-love-instantly-little-bit-of-drama-the-end, okay? There usually are other people in a person’s life than their love interest. And one has going on more than simply being in love.
Leo’s father for example plays an important role and I loved how his health is not a one time only scene.
So, this sounds like a 5 stars read, doesn’t it?
There is the asexual part. And this is the part why I don’t really know how to rate this book. Every rating feels wrong and unfair. I don’t think I felt this helpless and mixed up about a review before. Luckily I had the chance to meet Jae at Frankfurt Book Fair 2017 and she was very nice about me asking questions about Perfect Rhythm. So I could find some clarity (gosh, that sounds so dramatic!).
Holly herself is greatly portrayed in her asexuality and I enjoyed how she isn’t sex-repulsed. Because asexuality is a spectrum and there are asexuals, who enjoy sex. I loved how Jae put a trigger warning before the sex scene in her book as well. Way more authors need to do this!
But when she first told Leo about being ace, she used liking chocolate to make her understand. And I felt really disappointed because up to then everything was great. Asexuality isn’t about liking or not liking sex. It’s about not feeling sexual attraction.
So I asked Jae why she used this analogy and she said, she wrote Perfect Rhythm because a good friend of her is ace and there aren’t enough ace romances out there (so fucking true!). This friend uses chocolate to make people understand a little. Most people don’t know about romantic and sexual identities. Everything is the same for them and they think, everyone wants to have sex. So telling them “hey, I don’t feel sexual attraction, but I can love as deeply as every romantic person” confuses them.
I can get behind that.
Then there is Leo who reacts very acephobic in her thoughts. Being like “can I really date an asexual?!” is not nice. Annie told me how one can judge if that’s a good thought or not if you exchange the asexual for black for example. I wasn’t sure if I am ‘allowed’ to feel pissed about that thought. Well, now I feel like I am allowed.
I asked Jae about this as well. She portrayed Leo as an allo with absolutely no information about asexuality as well and she says this reaction is sadly realistic. People think like this. This doesn’t mean it’s a good way of thinking but they do.
I can get behind that.
Leo ends up dating Holly of course. I would have liked it more if Leo kinda apologized for this? Or told herself how fucking stupid she was to think like this because it’s wrong and acephobic and so so so stupid.
You may be wondering why I waited this long to review Perfect Rhythm if I was that unamused by it.
I felt like Jae is not acephobic. So I put writing this review off for weeks. And then I saw she would be a the Book Fair and I knew that was my chance!
I got this feeling, because of several things:
- Holly later explains asexuality to Leo in a way better way
- Jae hat sensitivity readers (she told me 4 ace spec total, one demi, one aroace and if just one sensitivity reader would have said anything she would have changed the thing that they didn’t like)
- her talking about asexuality at the end of Perfect Rhythm and this post on the Ylva blog
How to end this wannabe review? I don’t know. I’m not sure if it helps you in any way? But at least we get reasons for the way asexuality is portrayed in Perfect Rhythm by the author.
There was never a more difficult to write review than this one believe me! And I’m not proud of this one. But sometimes feelings are confusing and in this case they are very confusing. I think I’ll read Perfect Rhythm again in a year or two and then come back to this review.
Jae: Thank you for being this honest and patient with my questions. I enjoyed our talk a lot!
Disclaimer: I received a free copy through the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.