Love in Panels - Romancelandia

A Hidden Hope Cover
Synopsis from the Creator:

Natalie and El used to be writing critique partners, sharing their work chapter by chapter. Falling in love off-page was like the next part of the story. But after a huge falling out, three years have passed in bitter silence.

When they both appear at a science fiction convention in London, Natalie, a struggling writer, wants nothing to do with El, the hot debut novelist who sold her book at auction under a male pseudonym. But over the weekend, ignoring each other--and their attraction--proves impossible, not least because they have several panels together. Can El hope to atone for the mistakes of their past, and is Natalie willing to let hope fly?

Review: A Hidden Hope, by Laura Ambrose

[fa icon="calendar"] Jan 30, 2019 9:45:00 AM / by Suzanne Krohn

A Hidden Hope is the first in Laura Ambrose's Romancing the Page series of novellas. It's adorable and geeky and a bit angsty. It's also very specific. If you're a writer, blogger, librarian... or just really into books, I bet you'll like it.

If you're not into books, why are you here? Just kidding. (Sort of.)

The heroines, Natalie and El, were online critique partners three years prior to the start of this story, and they eventually fell for one another and had one night together. They've been separated by thousands of miles, you see, with one in Texas and one in Boston. Natalie writes fantasy novels, and El was writing literary fiction at the time, part of what leads to their eventual falling out. (El is a bit of a snob and they both put down each other's work... it's a Thing.)

Fast forward to three years later, and Natalie has scraped together the money to attend a convention in London. She's on submission for a new series and isn't where she wants to be professionally, though she's been on a slow but steady upward trajectory. She's walking around the Con, when she spots El. El, who just sold her first fantasy novel at auction for lots of money. El, who formally looked down on genre fiction. El, who has been writing as Elijah and is just now letting the world know that she's not a man. (There's discussion in the book about sexism in publishing, as well as what it means to have a big splashy debut versus growing a career from a smaller book.)

El and Natalie haven't spoken in three years, so it's a shock to both of them to see each other once again. It's sweet and sad and... angsty. The novella continues with El arranging a rather elaborate date that proves that she both a) knew Natalie would be at the Con and b) is still really into Natalie and wants to fix things.

I won't spoil things, but the Black Moment is believable and so is the resolution. The story has a sweet epilogue that makes the brevity of the novella have something more solid than a happy-for-now ending.

My one complaint is that Ambrose uses "the other girl" a lot in her narration. The story is told in third person alternating POV, so the pronouns are tricky to write... but I would have preferred that she refer to these two adult women as women rather than girls. It pulled me out of the story every time I read it. That's a very small, picky thing, however.

All around, A Hidden Hope is a great story. I look forward to reading the second.

Topics: review