Hello my bookish friends! I am back with a review of KNOWING HER by Raquel de Leon. It is the second book in the Barrera series; it can be read as a standalone, but it does contain spoilers for the first book. This is a friends-to-lovers romance between a lesbian trans Latina and an Asian woman on the ace spectrum trying to figure out her own labels.
Teresa Barrera has finally moved back home after running away when she was fifteen. Things are better for her than they were then. She's out as a trans lesbian, has a good job, and is in the promising start of a new relationship. To top it all off, she's back in contact with her sister, who has completely accepted her. She's not ready to tell the rest of her family, but that's okay.
Lian Hui, a private investigator who had searched for Teresa for years, is surprised when they become friends. Not much of a people person and prone to bouts of anxiety, she finds herself drawn to Teresa's kindness and patience. When Teresa's relationship turns sour, Lian steps up as the friend Teresa needs most.
As Teresa and Lian become closer, they find the line between friendship and romance can be a blurry, confusing thing.
I listened to this one on audio (available in Scribd), and I think I liked it even better than the first book in the series, WANTING HER. I love both Teresa and Lian from the beginning, and their relationship is so sweet and supportive. There's some miscommunication, mostly in the form of assuming the other character isn't interested in them and being kind of oblivious to the signs, but it isn't overdone or unrealistic for their experiences and personalities.
Without a doubt, my favorite scene is when they lay eyes on the way the other dressed up for Teresa's fancy, out of town work dinner. Lian had gone to one of Teresa's cousins to get a tailored three-piece suit, an outfit that she didn't realize quite how much she would love it until she had it on, and Teresa's reaction to (1) seeing how hot Lian is and (2) realizing that Lian's suit is perfectly matched to her own dress is swoon worthy.
KNOWING HER is very low on the heat scale. It's a slow burn in regard to both the romance and the sexual relationship, with one sex scene right at the end of the story. This is done with purpose, and it doesn't leave the reader wanting. Lian struggles to find a label for herself, but she is on the ace spectrum, and Teresa is so respectful and supportive of that. She never pressures Lian, and she never makes her feel lacking, less than, or guilty for not wanting to be intimate.
Lian also has social anxiety. Teresa is very thoughtful when it comes to making plans for Lian's comfort, and Lian also finds ways to take Teresa out to be the social butterfly that she is without compromising her own mental and emotional well-being. This aspect of their relationship was also really beautifully done.
I highly recommend this one, especially if you're a fan of books by Anna Stone or Reese Morrison. Actually, I think Lian and Teresa would get along great with Zhong, Ash, Lena/Landon and Dustin from Morrison's LOVE UNEXPECTED series if they could do a book crossover.
What are you currently reading?