RogerBW's Blog

Love Lettering, Kate Clayborn 21 December 2022

2019 romance. Meg Mackworth hand-letters journals and planners, and spots patterns in things; last year when Reid Sutherland and his fiancée came in for their wedding stationery, she got a Feeling, and couldn't resist working a hidden message of M-I-S-T-A-K-E into the invitation. Now he's back…

So I just have to assume that hand-lettering journals is something you can make a living at. It's entirely outside my experience, but if I can enjoy reading about an elven veterinarian or 'splodey spaceships I should be able to cope with this too.

Both of these people are obsessed with visual detail and not particularly facile in their social interactions, and I find it very encouraging that this is presented as entirely normal and simply the way some people are, rather than dismissing them as in some way "on the spectrum" (all too often used to excuse bad behaviour either by the person so dismissed or by people who interact with them). They meet again; the wedding fell apart; she's creatively blocked; but something in the conversation works for both of them. There are arguments, and distractions, and all the usual romance things, but

…dammit there are reasons for those things. He's cagy about his job because of something about it that will of course come to a head within the span of the book. They argue hurtfully because they aren't natural arguers, so when it happens they hit as hard as possible to make it stop. (Yeah, I can see myself there.)

Oh yeah and a minor character mentions her wife without anyone raising an eyebrow and thank you. Sure, she isn't a romantic protagonist, but to me this is just a normal thing, and I'm glad to read about other people treating it as a normal thing too – and I know some romance readers are ferociously conservative, so I'm glad to see Clayborn not simply making minority sexualities invisible to avoid causing mainstream offence.

There aren't quite the emphases I expected, but I very much enjoyed this, perhaps in part because the protagonist's job is so alien (and yet recognisably creative and artistic).

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