Review: “Stop and Stare” by Katia Rose

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Steam: 🔥🔥

Release Date: June 1st, 2021

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Sometimes love is in the last place you look.

Iz Sanchez has looked for love just about everywhere. Granted, life as a gender non-conforming jock at a small coastal university does not exactly present a wealth of opportunity, but that hasn’t stopped Iz from seizing the day.

So far their quest to find Miss Right has only resulted in heartbreak and way too many awkward run-ins with exes at the campus sports bar, but at the end of the day, Iz can always count on their friends, their glorious collection of designer sneakers, and their steadfast belief that love is out there somewhere to get them back in the game.

What they didn’t expect was to have their world turned upside down by a champagne-fueled New Year’s kiss with the girl who’s been their best friend since toddlerhood.

Marina Townsend has always known she and her best friend Iz were made to be more than friends. She’s spent years waiting for the right moment to come along and make Iz see it too.

That moment shows up at the stroke of midnight, but instead of pulling them together, the kiss only seems to push them apart. Now that a lifelong friendship is on the line, Iz can’t stop thinking about the times love has left them burned. They’ll need to figure their heart out—and soon—because Marina is done waiting for Iz to realize what she’s known all along:

Sometimes love comes looking for you.

 

Stumbling across Katia Rose on Instagram might be the best thing I’ve done this year. Because not only did I discover her entire backlist is brilliant, I learned that she’s got a full length queer story featuring lacrosse players coming out this month. BUT, also that she’d written a novella featuring characters we’ll see in that book and it was free if you signed up for her newsletter. This book is most definitely not available on Amazon at this time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it.

Iz Sanchez and Marina Townsend have been best friends since they were little. Their friendship runs deep, but apparently so does their love for each other. Iz and Marina have grown up together and they’ve got more memories together than they do apart and that only makes their friendship stronger. And also why their love for each other evolves the way it does. Iz was the first person Marina told about being pansexual and Marina was the first person Iz told about being non-binary – their friendship is built on trust, love and of course, memories. But when a champagne-fueled kiss upsets the balance of their friendship, they both suddenly realise that maybe there’s been something there all along. Something that isn’t just friendship.

“I don’t want a life without them. They’re the colour in my skies. They’re the comfort and the laughter and the place I go to heal. They’re my person.”

I loved this novella so much! Iz is a wonderful character and totally relatable. They have a tendency to make silly decisions when it comes to relationships and they don’t believe they’re worthy of something good and solid. They make mistakes constantly, never sure if they’re going to recover or not. Plus, Iz is head over heels for their best friend and that is confusing for them. I loved Marina so much, partly because she reminds me of me, except for the part where she’s obsessed with Audrey Hepburn, of course. Marina is amazing and she’s tough and funny and smart and she’s so great. Also, she’s curvy and sexy and beautiful, but she’s also really uncertain about her body. And I love how she motivates herself and uses positive reinforcement to get through tough situations. She’s so real in that sense.

Their love story is complicated. When you’ve been best friends for so long, making that shift into something else becomes hard. Iz and Marina struggle and when she brings it up during a conversation, Iz misunderstands. Which then leads to more misunderstanding, scowling and immense support from the rest of Iz’s housemates. I love that Marina stood her ground and didn’t let her feelings for Iz affect the choices she made. Iz hurts Marina and instead of crawling back to her, Marina puts her foot down and tells her best friend what she wants.

“I know you so well, Marina. I have you memorized. I meant it when I said I just stop and stare at you sometimes. I don’t want to miss a thing.”

What I really loved about this book is how deep it is and how much it’s rooted in accepting yourself, accepting the people around you and giving yourself the chance to deal with things you probably wouldn’t on a regular basis. It’s a story about two people falling in love in every sense, but it’s also about falling in love with yourself and accepting yourself for who you are.
I cannot recommend this book enough and it’s a good lead up to Catch and Cradle (out June 8th and will be available in KU), which is a full length novel featuring some characters from Stop and Stare.

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