This review was originally posted at Heroes & Heartbreakers when the book released in September of 2017. The follow-up, Love, All, just came out on June 1st and features Willa's older brother, Nate, getting his HEA!
Anyway, it's Pride Month, and we're in the mood for summer love and sexy tennis players, you?
Disclosures: I received a copy of the book for review through H&H. I've also modified the post a little to delete broken links.
In Her Court, Tamsen Parker’s contribution to the Camp Firefly Falls series is a geeky, female/female twist on the best friend’s little sister trope. It’s geekier than I expected, dirtier than I expected, and less about tennis than I expected. Since all of these things make me happy, you can probably imagine the amount of pure glee I experienced while reading this book. If you like rocks, tennis, women, Star Wars, ’80s pop culture, and/or suspenders, this may be the book for you.
If you aren’t familiar with the series, Camp Firefly Falls is, as of this entry, up to 18 books, all of which take place at Camp Firefly Falls. You can read about all stories so far at the dedicated series site. All contemporary romance, the books cover most tropes and, with In Her Court, now has male/female, male/male, and female/female pairings.
At first glance, I thought “Camp? For grownups? Like… dirty dancing?” While there’s definitely some dancing and some dirty, the series is more like a big excuse for forced proximity stories. I happen to love those, so discovering the key to this series was a big selling point for me. I also love that the stories are loosely connected, but each author’s story still feels like her own. Farrah Rochon is still Farrah. Tamsen Parker is still Tamsen. It’s a great chance to explore authors who are new to you, or authors you already like but in a new setting.
Back to In Her Court. The setup is this: Van and Nate have been best friends forever, and now that they’re adults, it’s harder and harder to spend time together like they used to. They sign up to bunk together while Nate is teaching tennis and Van is being the tech wizard at camp. Six weeks of best friend bonding. Unfortunately, Nate breaks his leg. Fortunately, his little sister (she’s 23) is a tennis whiz and, due to a cave collapse, can’t work on her geology research for the summer as she had planned. Nate asks Willa to sub in for him, putting her in Van’s cabin for six weeks. Holy cats, the TENSION. Van doesn’t want to want Willa, and Willa doesn’t want Van to know that she’s been lusting after her big brother’s best friend for over a decade. They’re living together, however, and then they get assigned a big project together and… the rest is history.
If you’re into geeky stuff, you’ll be satisfied by this book in two different ways. First, Van is very into geek pop culture. She’s got Star Wars and Wonder Woman stuff all around her space, and she gets really into it when they start planning their 80’s themed activities week. Characters watch Ghostbusters, Serenity, and The Empire Strikes Back. There’s a slime war. The first time they hook up they are dressed as Han Solo and Leia. (I cannot even tell you how fun this was, go read the book.) Beyond the pop culture references, however, Van and Willa are intellectual geeks as well. Willa is a disillusioned professor, working IT for the summer and trying not to think about the additional intro course her department is trying to force on her. Willa is a geology Ph.D. candidate, looking forward to a future in research and education. The 7 year age gap adds a layer of all-too-realistic conflict to the story, in that Van hates academia and doesn’t want Willa to “waste her life.” Willa, accustomed to being the “baby” sister, is justifiably pissed. I’m not going to tell you how this all works out, but it does. (Tamsen has a way of writing characters who can disagree on something without either of them being cruel.)
I wrote a post in June about my wishlist as a bisexual reader. Tamsen probably didn’t write this book for me, but she may as well have. It’s got a lesbian heroine and a bisexual heroine. Neither of them is shamed for her experiences or preferences. In fact, one of the heroines has a couple of sexual hangups and the other just goes with it. (As she should.) What’s more, sexual orientation isn’t a gimmick or a “surprise” in this book. Their relationship is smart and honest. Their sexual relationship is hot and honest. The heroines respect each other and I feel respected as a reader. So, if you want some geeky, sexy, smart female/female with Ghostbusters slime and Star Wars cosplay, this is the book for you.