Rating: 4 stars
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This year, it’s the year of Liza, whether she likes it or not. And Liza … isn’t sure she’s up for this. Ten years ago, the love of her life walked out the door. Six months after that, the love of her life hooked up with a guy and whatever hope Liza had about getting Carrie back was extinguished like a flame. Since then, Liza’s gone from work to volunteering at the synagogue with not much interest in anything else in between. Her best friend and her mother keep encouraging her to get back out there and try to find love again, but Liza isn’t sure she wants to. She isn’t sure she’s ready, if she ever will be, or if she even wants to be ready.
But the Purim holiday, celebrated by a masked ball, is a perfect place to mingle. No one can see her face, and the holiday spirit of food and drink, friends and family and prayer, is the perfect place to at least try. With a new dress, a custom mask, and a cocktail, Liza decides to try her hand at flirting with one of the tall, beautiful women on the dance floor, only to have her attention directed to the elegant woman watching her from the sidelines.
It takes less than a dance, just the whisper of Carrie’s voice on her skin to make the years fall away. Carrie was Liza’s first love, her true love, and the woman she thought she’d spend forever with. And now Carrie is back, back in her arms, and Liza doesn’t know what to do.
This is the third volume in the Hot for the Holidays series, books about lesbian Jewish women finding love during Jewish holidays — with this one taking place during Purim. The books don’t need to be read in any order (which is fortunate as I haven’t had a chance to read the other two), and there’s no need to be familiar with the holiday, which serves as backdrops to the romances rather than being the focus. Though there is a third character in this particular book, which is the food, especially the hamantaschen, a Jewish cookie eaten during the holiday, which sound amazing.
Liza is a very self contained woman, living deep in her emotions and thoughts — so much so that it’s hard to get a read on her. She is also still very, very in love with Carrie. The ten years, the anger, the pain, they’re all a weight around her neck, dragging her down. And with Carrie here, standing in front of her, asking to be given a second chance at their love … Liza has a choice to make. Hold on to the pain, punish them both, or give in and let go. And it’s not an easy choice. All of that hurt and anger is still there, but so to is the love, and Liza is the sort of person who loves so deeply and entirely.
Carrie didn’t leave because she fell out of love.It hit her hard, and angry, confused, and trapped in her own feelings … she left. A part of Carrie wanted Liza to call, to beg, to come get her. But that’s not what happened, and Carrie has had to live with that. Off and on, she’s had relationships with both men and women, but she hasn’t allowed them to get too close. That was something she shared with Liza. Given the chance, Carrie has come back, ready to take anything Liza will give her. A minute, an hour, an argument, a dismissal, she’ll take it all if it’s Liza giving it to her, because it means Liza will be looking at her.
Both women are in therapy, and not just for the breakup. Liza has been diagnosed with ADHD, cares for her elderly mother, runs a dental practice, and hides herself away from being hurt ever again. Carrie, having recently lost her father (part of why she’s returned home) and dealing with her own illness, is also in therapy and both women are honest about how it’s been helping them. Both women are also very open about how the friendships in their respective lives have been a necessary and loving support system, and really, it’s just a lovely look at how hard it can be to fall into and out of love.
This is a story about forgiveness and acceptance. And just because two people reunite after ten years, even though they share an emotional connection, the road ahead still isn’t guaranteed. Liza accepts Carrie, even knowing that Carrie made the choice to leave her, and Carrie has come back, knowing that she deserves to be held accountable for her actions. This is a charming story about love, loss, and friendship, and it is well worth the read.