Monday, December 5, 2022

Review Tuesday: For the Long Run by Cheyenne Blue -- #LesbianRomance #SportsRomance #ReviewTuesday

For the Long Run cover

For the Long Run by Cheyenne Blue

Ylva Publishing, 2022

Shan’s entire life revolves around her running. Her ambition: first the Commonwealth Games, then the Olympics. Everything else takes second place. Totally focused, she’s determined not to let anything, or anyone, get in the way of her goal.

Except someone does – an amateur runner in a koala suit who blunders into Shan at a race and precipitates a serious knee injury. Faced with the prospect of orthopedic surgery and a long, painful recovery, Shan is angry and bitter, and she blames Lizzie Carras, the koala in question. Meanwhile, Shan’s trying to figure out how she’ll manage to climb the four flights to her apartment on crutches, how she’ll get to doctor’s and physiotherapist’s appointments, how she’ll survive entirely on her own.

Motivated half by guilt and half by compassion, Lizzie suggests that Shan can stay temporarily in her spare bedroom. It’s a logical solution to Shan’s problem, and works out surprisingly well. Perhaps too well. Shan finds herself strongly attracted to her curvy, dusky-skinned roommate. And it’s not just physical – the feeling of comfort and connection she gets when she’s with Lizzie make her realize just how empty her emotional life was before the accident.

Re-training her body and regaining her edge will require Shan’s total dedication, though, or at least that’s what she believes. There’s no room in her life for a relationship. Meanwhile, Lizzie has made it clear that despite the way she’s drawn to Shan, she’s not going to be satisfied with casual sex.

I’m totally uninterested in most sports. Although at some level I admire the dedication of serious athletes, I tend to think their obsessions are unhealthy. Still, I’ll read anything written by Cheyenne Blue. Her previous sports romance Code of Conduct drew me in, in spite of myself, and the same thing happened with this book.

When Ms. Blue creates characters, they take on a life of their own – to the point that I found myself really disliking Shan. She seemed selfish as well as seriously lacking in self-awareness. Her running friend Celia is equally self-centered.

Lizzie, on the other hand, is so lovable that I just wanted to give her a hug. A bit insecure herself, she’s dedicated to helping others. Her devotion to the puppy she’s fostering is a touchstone of her personality. When she collides with Shan, she’s doing a pledge run for charity. As her relationship with Shan develops, one wonders whether Lizzie has enough heart for the both of them.

I won’t say any more about the plot, though since this is a romance you can probably guess the two women ultimately work out their conflicts. One of the joys of the book, though, is the way that Lizzie discovers a love for running. She approaches the sport in a totally different way than Shan. It’s a way for her to connect with her physical self as well as to gain a new sort of self-confidence.

Shan helps her with training, and in the process, becomes (for me) a more sympathetic protagonist.

One thing I love about Cheyenne’s books is the fact that everyone seems to view same-sex relationships as normal. I don’t know if this is a realistic portrayal of urban society in Australia or not. I hope so.

All in all, I enjoyed For the Long Run. In the afterward, the author talks about her own experiences with running, which have a lot in common with Lizzie’s. That personal commentary gave the ending a special glow.

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