Title: Making Love
Author: Aidan Wayne
Genre: Romance, Paranormal, LGBT
Date of Publication: 30th January, 2017
Page Count: 92 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Carla the cupid is an excellent shot, but her chemistry is so bad that most of her matches don’t last. Her dream is to shoot a True Love pair, but until her scores improve, she’s relegated to the Puppy Love division of Aphrodite Agency.
Leeta, a succubus, is looking for a True Love match. Which is highly unusual, as most succubi are aromantic. But Aphrodite Agency—her only hope—turns her away because the receptionist can’t believe she’s not just looking for an easy meal.
Carla agrees to take Leeta’s case on freelance. She figures it’s a win-win: Carla gets to put a succubus’s True Love match on her résumé, and Leeta gets to find her True Love! Except as Carla tries to find a match for Leeta, she finds herself maybe . . . relieved when the matches don’t end well. And Leeta seems to be getting pickier and pickier. Things will never work out until Carla learns enough about chemistry to figure out who’s truly best for Leeta, and until Leeta can admit what—or who—she truly wants.
Word Count: 22,800
I’m not a fan of novellas and I didn’t realize that’s what this was when I requested it…but this story is so treacly sweet and works best in a small dose, so that ended up being a positive!
Carla’s a cupid who is struggling because she can’t identify good chemistry between people who would make great matches – a bit of a disadvantage in her line of work! Practically every statement of hers drips in positivity and excitement and ends in an exclamation point – this would’ve usually annoyed me, but I viewed Carla as an anime character, bubbly, energetic and OTT so I didn’t mind, but it may be off-putting to some readers as it comes across like she’s practically screaming every line of dialogue and almost exhaustingly effervescent.
Leeta is my faaaave, she’s a succubus who actually wants a romantic relationship, which is unusual for her kind and is a desire that subjects her to some discrimination at the Aphrodite Agency where Carla works because they assume she’s just looking for another victim to prey on. Of course Leeta isn’t going to beg or justify herself, so she doesn’t push the issue and is coolly dignified and cutting rather than trying to pander to the agency.
Fortunately Carla is more open-minded and looking for a chance to redeem herself, so she takes on Leeta’s case in secrecy. What endears Carla to me is that she really does have Leeta’s best interests at heart – she wants to prove she’s capable of a higher position at work and helping to find Leeta’s True Love ™ would elevate her job prospects, but she knows she’s not the greatest at matchmaking so she offers to put in a good word for Leeta and quietly arranging for someone else to take on her case as a favor. She had nothing to gain from that, and it was super sweet of her to make that offer. It’s easy to see why Leeta would warm to Carla after that and switch off the Ice Queen persona she projects as a default in social settings.
This is the perfect setup for them to fall in love, and I really enjoyed seeing it happen even as Carla is completely oblivious. Part of this assignment involves learning more about Leeta’s hopes and dreams, her hobbies and interests and so forth; they wind up meeting fairly frequently, getting together at each other’s homes so often that they start to stock up on food and drinks specifically for the other person, and as they become closer, it turns into more time spent socializing for fun than trading information to find a partner for Leeta. The main reason for my reluctance to read novellas is because I often find that authors struggle to make the progression of the relationship realistic in such a short time, but Making Love excelled in that area.
The world-building left a little to be desired, I couldn’t quite picture all this taking place – if you look at the cover, Leeta and Carla are quite the odd pair and I’m not sure how a winged cherub and a woman with horns & tail can walk down the street without causing a scene. I would’ve liked to get a bit of an idea or some backstory on how the regular humans reacted to these fantastical species being in their midst, but the story had a very narrow focus on cupids and Leeta rather than placing them in context in this society.
Despite its flaws, I have a soft spot for this novella mainly because of the wonderful LGBT+ representation. While their orientations aren’t specifically labelled, Leeta is bisexual and Carla is demisexual – she previously had never experienced sexual desire with anyone, and even though she wasn’t necessarily interested in sex now, she was willing to experiment with it because she loved Leeta and wanted to see if this intimacy was something they could share so she could make her happy. What made my heart do twirls was Leeta having a very frank discussion about consent and emphasizing that while physical intimacy was a biological necessity for her species, she can survive on normal food for months and she’s willing to do as little or as much as Carla is comfortable with at her pace. Consent is romantic, y’all, I loved it!
Personal Rating: 3 of 5 kitties approve this book.
Disclaimer: I received a digital copy free from Riptide Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.