The Real Story – RJ Layer

The Real StoryKate Bellam was always in the closet, her parents “casting out” convincing her it was too risky to be open. When her sister died of a brain tumor and she took over raising her niece Megan, it seemed logical to bury her sexual needs. 10 years on and she has rarely acknowledged or acted on her real self, keeping her lesbianism buried from the world.

When Megan gets an internship with sports-writing “Tommie” Tommelson Kate’s initial reaction is twisted by a chance encounter at the local bar. Tommie is a typical butch dyke – Love them and leave them – “player”. But over the months that follow Kate realizes there is far more to Tommie than the surface impression. Can she find the courage to show her real self, and if she does can she hold Tommie’s wandering attention?

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“The Real Story” is a very Traditional romance. Tommie assumes Kate is straight, Kate knows Tommie is a player, and we spend the novel watching their growing feelings for each other and waiting to see how, rather than if, the author will resolve the situation. Interwoven into their plot is the growing up of Megan, about to leave for college, exploring her own sexuality and pushing the boundaries.

The story is one we are all familiar with. Ms Layer shows Tommie’s “player” status and Kate’s fear of coming out. The two women’s attraction, the attraction of opposites, is reflected in their behaviors and sexual activity – one in the bars, the other in the bath. The sex scenes and sexual fantasy is suggestive rather than overly explicit which will please some readers but may frustrate others.

The characters are engaging, but they need more development. Tommie grows as she realizes she wants something different and recognizes how badly she treats her conquests. But Kate is drawn early and shown as being almost too perfect, despite her secrecy and deception. When she finally comes out there are no questions, no consequences, not even any hurt at the deceit.

The plot idea works, but the wanting, longing and near misses are frustrating at times. Not that every story needs to be a ‘U-Haul’ moment, but there needs to be more soul searching, more development and growth to fill the month long gaps between progression. And when they do finally act – it is instant U-Haul -again no angst or development, just instant ‘happy ever after.

The growing up of Megan is a bonus, and leaves the opportunity for a follow up, but again we are shown a glimpse of the real person and no real exploration. We see her, but don’t feel her. And while Kate’s over-protectiveness and care is understandable, her over-reaction to relatively minor accidents like a broken arm jar with her profession of surgical nurse.

This is a decent first novel, and I will happily read Ms Layer’s next work. It is a pleasant way to spend some time. But the build is too slow, the coming together too fast and the angst too forced.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bella Books (February 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00J7XJNPE
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