Cover Image: Meet Me in Madrid

Meet Me in Madrid

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Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene...

Except it isn't two households, ccit's two women, and it isn't fair Verona, it's Madrid. And no one dies at the end, which is refreshing (looking at you, Boys on the Side and Fried Green Tomatoes).

There's bound to be spoilery stuff here.

Charlotte, once a Yale undergrad and now (some kind of lowly curator title) and courier shepherding pieces of art to the places they've been loaned, is stranded in Madrid during a sudden storm. Adrianna, once a Yale lecturer, and now a lecturer on the entirely opposite coast, is in Madrid on a sabbatical, running down and transcribing the diaries of a nun. They knew one another briefly,back at Yale, but now they've both been focused on their life in academia, pursuing their careers. They meet up at a cafe Adrianna knows, and the writing at that point tells you what going to happen: instalove.

There's nothing wrong with that, of course, ass it's a trope of the genre. I did like the wrinkle that there is at least the fact they knew one another in some way prior to Madrid. This means they're also a bit older than the characters who usually inhabit the gene, and they're also both black, another departure from the genre. No young white women with blond hair, blue eyes, zero body fat and perfect abs here: the author paints both women as "buxom", which I took to mean that both have at least something approximating a bit of middle age spread in addition to both having big chests.

After a three day marathon of sex, Charlotte heads back to New Haven, and both women have the newly-met-but-too-far-away stars in their eyes, looking forward to their next meeting, in NYC, for the new year.

There's a brief appearance by Hadley, a slim, white, young woman with perfect everything (oops, I guess not all tropes are dead) at the beginning of the new year version of Madrid, someone Charlotte can't stand for reasons not well explained, who invites them to a NYE party at her parents' house, and they go, for some reason. After finishing the book, I understand why, but it was a little heavy handed.
 
More sex, over the next couple of days. Adrianna flies back to Madrid, and we get an encore of Emotions. 

Charlotte is tasked with taking some art out to California, and Adrianna insists that she meet Esther, a dear friend of hers. Esther's having a time with her husband, who has been having an affair with one of his students. To put the betrayal on blast, he sends the student to tell Esther about it. After getting stuck in LA by yet another freak storm, Charlotte winds up at Esther's teaching her son Fisher to make beignets. There's a weird, uncomfortably written conversation between Esther and Charlotte, and the "is this older woman, having been married to a shitty dude with whom she had a son, really a lesbian, or at least bi?" thing was off-putting. There's also a connection made, thanks to networking, when Esther takes Charlotte to Piedmont, who may or may not be in the market for a half courier/half lecturer type of person. 

Next up: Chicago (Adrianna's hometown) at Valentines Day! Also, interviews, where she once again faces the dean from Piedmont, but they have to pretend they don't know one another. Charlotte also gives a talk on race and art, and her asshole boss from the museum - "I don't see you as a person of color, Charlotte" -  is there, once again saying stupid things, this time about how Brer Rabbit and Songs of the South are not racist, I guess, and how art shouldn't be politicized. It's the sort of blather some overly educated jerk says when they're trying to put down one of their own employees with a nonsensical what if. What I thought immediately, and what Adrianna actually says in the book against his crap, is that his statement itself is political.   

More sexytimes. They depart from one another, again.

In between all this - and sometimes when they're recovering from a round of sex, there's discussion of how difficult it is in general to have a career in the arts, and in particular, how hard it is for black, gay women to have a career in the arts. This is true (not just of the arts, of course, BIPOC LGBTQAI+ folk have a hard time of it anywhere) but the way it's written feels like it's been copied out of a policy paper.

Later in the book, we get the Sophie's Choice: both women get job offers, but it would mean they would swap coasts, and still have the same problem: long distance relationships, even with these two who can get horny on command via facetime, are problematic in a lot of ways. They finally have their first blowup, after Adrianna tells Charlotte abut her offer from Yale. They get snippy from one another, and then give each other the silent treatment: no texts, no calls, no facetime.

Esther tells Adrianna she's being a jerk and to knock it off. We get the usual makeup bit, but of course, they are still apart.

Charlotte,her pal James, and three other people get the axe fro the museum thanks to Jerkface McRacistBoss. James, crafty queen that he is, has receipts: Jerkface gets fired, the five are rehired, and Charlotte is given a vague promise or promotion to Deputy Curator when the woman in charge retires.

But where we land is in Cali. Esther has hooked up with Hadley, so we have a May-September romance with the two mains, and a May-December with the secondaries. It also occurred to me that out of the four white adult guys we meet for any real time, one is gay, one is a dean of the arts college, one is a two-timing douchebag, and the last is a racist homophobe. 

If you're reading for the sex, you'll be delighted: there's a lot of it, and it's very graphic, sometimes to the point of being clinical. If you're reading for the story: it's ok. The writing style seems to be most comfortable when the topic is academia, and the descriptions of interviews and campus visits was the best writing and the best look at getting hired in academia that I've read outside of nonfiction. 

Three out of five stars (possibly a fiver if erotica is your thing).

Thanks to Harlequin/Carina Press/Carina Adores and NetGalley for the reading copy.

At the end of the day, it's a HEA - how could it not be?
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I didn't expect this one to be so hot. I really liked the relationship between the two main characters. The Madrid descriptions were so real I felt like I was there.
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Long distance dating is one of the toughest things on relationship.  Charlotte knows this only too well.  When she meets up with a woman from her past in Madrid, sparks fly and a relationship is born.

I am always on the look out for some good ff romance. This one between Charlotte and Adrianna is a bit too slow for me.  In addition, the characters are developed in a mediocre manner.  I say this because I kept having to remind myself which one is Charlotte and which one is Adrianna.  There wasn't enough to distinguish between the two women.  

So why did I still rate it 3 star?  Because I liked the conflict the two experienced.  I enjoyed how they had jobs that took them away from each other.  They had to work to keep their relationship going. I liked how it presented real life problems when two women both relatively established in their careers and trying to move up the ladder end up in a relationship which could impact their careers.

I am mixed about the outcome of their career because it did feel like one person had to sacrifice more for the other.  This is a universal truth for most dual income couples.  I have to admit I felt anxiety waiting to see what both ladies would end up deciding.

I also liked how Ms. Lowell addresses the issue of being "other".  Both women's racial and sexual identity seem to have been more noticed than their work.  I found this to be sad.  Because they are more than just a person of colour or a lesbian.  They both are amazing at their jobs and to be relegated to be a token promotion or to be let go because of an aspect of their life, not their work merits is depressing for me.  It is captured quite well in this book.  

Overall, this book is going in many different directions with subplots that imply history that needs to be explained more.  Or other subplots hint at a possible future story with a broken marriage and a switch to play for the other team.  This contemporary romance is messy, complicated, and real to life.  Recommended to ff readers who enjoy happily ever afters.
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Thank you for giving me access to this book, but unfortunately it was a DNF for me. I just couldn't get into it. It might have been because I was just coming off the high on an incredible new favourite book, that this one just didn't really stand a chance, but it just didn't engage me. I'd be willing to revisit it one day, just now wasn't the right time it seems.
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I really wanted to like this book, but I couldn't quite get there. The stakes were never clearly laid out, and the two women fall into a relationship so quickly that no tension ever builds between them. The sex scenes weren't steamy enough to qualify this as straight-up erotica, but the plot felt thin enough that I was expecting more of that. Overall, just a mediocre romance.
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The premise of the book hooked me with promises of two academic Black queer women who find each other many years since their last interaction and fall in love. Plus, with Madrid as a backdrop, I was really eager to dive into this. Meet Me in Madrid is all of those things, but it’s so much more than just a love story and I like that I was able to go on this journey with them as they figured out their own lives and careers.

While addressing important issues or homophobia and racism, the book also tackles love and following your dreams. Both women – Charlotte and Adrianna – have big dreams and aspirations. They want to achieve so much in their lives that their dreams are sometimes bigger than they are. But it shows you how two people so academically gifted are able to find the balance in the hard world they live in to make time for each other. One of the strong themes in the book is the lack of diversity in academia and how these two women question it, discuss it and do whatever it takes to change it. And the diversity is not just about people of colour, but people of different sexual orientations.

Charlotte and Adrianna’s romance is cute, sexy and definitely steamy. Their attraction to each other kicks off almost as soon as they are reunited and I love that it wasn’t all shy and coy, they tackled it head on and enjoyed every minute of it. Their relationship might be the central focus of the book, but it shares place with the details of their respective careers. I feel like we got so much insight into their work lives and how they try to make it work instead of getting more about their relationship. This is partly because the two characters are barely ever together in the same place and their relationship relies heavily on phone calls and FaceTime conversations. And while I loved their romance, I felt like it wasn’t enough.

The deep dive into their respective careers was too much for me, but I’m sure that this much information and insight would definitely appeal to some other readers. I also enjoyed meeting the secondary characters and seeing how all of them play into the story.

I am definitely intrigued by what else Verity Lowell might right in the future, because her style of writing, her knowledge of the topics and the focus on queer women of colour really made this story a strong one.
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Much as I want more wlw stories out in the world, this one just didn’t hold me. The writing feels blocky and over the top, and there is a lot of telling the reader about both women rather than letting their personalities and histories organically reveal themselves.
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I'm afraid that I find Verity Lowell's writing to be very weak, so much so that I'm surprised this work will be published at all. I liked the idea and the f/f love story however the prose is cliché-ridden and uneven. I'm sure others will be able to love this more but I cannot in good conscience recommend this.
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DNF after 5 chapters. I was so excited for this book. I love Madrid, art history, and sapphic romances, however this book just fell flat. The writing was so flowery and tried to describe every little thing that it was just difficult to read and honestly felt very objectifying (like I had to check twice to make sure it wasn't written by a man). It desperately needed an editor to take out half the paragraphs, On top of that the relationship Charlotte and Adrienne went from zero to sex with no build up or heat. Literally they went from barely having a single conversation to scissoring with no build up (and that was all within the first for chapters). I felt no connection to the characters and found no connection between the two women. This was so bad that in combination with the way things were described I actually gagged and kept thinking, "ew" during the sex scene because it put felt porny. I have read a lot of KU erotica and have never had this reaction. I will not be finishing the book.
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I guess I had high hopes for this book but the romance didn't work for me at all. I think I was expecting something more like Alexandra Bellefleur's book Written in the Stars which I really enjoyed. The relationship in this book just wasn't good. I liked Charlotte but not Adrianna. I couldn't stand her. The secondary characters were interesting though. I did order a copy for my library but it just wasn't for me.
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I'm contemplating running the Madrid half marathon so I figured it was time to read a book set in Madrid. This just didn't live up to my expectations.

This book just wasn't for me. It holds so much promise, but the writing is off-putting and it ends up being boring and it could not hold my attention.

The representation is great, leading ladies of colour and highly educated with good jobs. That is sadly also where it stops.

I'm sure this works for other people, please find other reviews to find out if this book is for you.
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I want to start off by saying that objectively this was an okay book. I think that it had a hard time trying to get its point across. The writing was a little confusing, the tense of the story was flopping all around. 

It’s hard to write a review on a book where the one thing you don’t like about it (the writing style), is the thing that allows you to get through it and enjoy it. It may be for someone but it just wasn’t for me. 

I will say the rep in this book is outstanding.
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The story of Charlotte and Adrianna is they both met in college when Adriana was a professor and Charlotte and student. Almost ten years later,  they meet in Madrid and start a love affair. I do appreciate the diversity of both characters both being part of BIPOC and the LGBTIA+ community. The love scenes are erotic and explicit. However, the story felt very rushed in their relationship, and the character Hadley felt like a last-minute character placed in the story.
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The relationship between Charlotte and Adrianna felt very rushed, immediately falling in love and diving head first into a romance. While I liked that the question then became "how do we make this work" rather than "should we", there didn't feel like there was any forward momentum in their story. The side characters also didn't really fit into the narrative in a productive way. It all just fell flat unfortunately. I wanted more.
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After reading the sample preview for this book and thinking the story was promising, I was excited to continue reading. Unfortunately, this book ended up falling flat for me in almost every way.

What I liked: The fact it’s a sapphic romance that doesn’t shy away from the sexytimes. The fact both heroines were women of colour. This one goes in both the pro and con list: their jobs; they had interesting jobs, but there was way too much detail.

What I disliked: The story was so painfully slow. There was too much detail about the curating and the research. When they were together, I enjoyed the story for the most part, but when they were apart, it dragged. I stopped caring about the characters or what was happening about halfway through and ended up skimming the rest of the book. There was so much telling and very little showing, and it made it hard to connect to the characters or what was happening. 

When a book has a title like ‘Meet Me in Madrid’ I expect to see some of Madrid. I want a sense of place, I want food and scenery and to feel like I’m there. In this book, one of the characters just happened to live there and that was really all we saw. Also, calling this a romcom feels like a flat-out lie. This didn’t have any of the hallmarks of a romcom, nor was it even remotely funny.
 
I had high hopes for Meet Me in Madrid, but overall it fell flat and ended up being a chore to get through.
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From the get go, I was hooked by the story. It was so refreshing to see two POC in a #lesfic romance, and even better but two women in Academia. Charlotte and Adrianna reunite in Spain serendipitously, and after a grad-school crush their romance develops very quickly over 4 days together. They are then left with a strong connection, but a very long distance romance.

I really enjoyed following the long distance romance, and anyone who has experienced this type of relationship would definitely relate to this part of the story. It took me back to when I first started dating my wife and we had a few months of separation and it was so difficult and tested our relationship. It can definitely make or break a romance!

All in all, a great romance that I highly recommend if you like your characters to be smart, outspoken and sexy.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Carina Press / Carina Adores for a copy of this novel. ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.
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Oh honey mine!

This book was really interesting in terms of the characters and their representations in the book, and I truly commend the author for that. The two main characters are women of colour that have dedicated their lives to academia and the arts while putting love off. Together, they discover with each other, how important love is if you have the right person to share it with. It's my first book I've read with this storyline, even though it was a bit different, I still enjoyed reading about it and experiencing it. 

If you love spicy romances with characters that catch all the feels, you'll enjoy this!

Thank you to NetGalley and Carina Press for the earc in return for an honest review.
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Thank You! Thank You! Thank You HARLEQUIN /Carina Press 😘💕
For this sweet adorable ebook.copy in exchange for an honest review! 
NetGalley Thank you for the opportunity!
And Author Lowell.... You have a new fan here! Thank you! 

I freaked out a bit when I opened my tablet and got onto NetGalley and seen Meet Me in Madrid was on my shelf! 😻 Aahhhhhhh! 
I legit said out loud.... "I freaking love this Publisher! Sincerely thank you"! 
I have been dying to read this ever since I seen it hit NetGalley and I've been patiently waiting for the approval. 
The description here captured my attention and ran like a blazing train. 
I needed! I wanted! I prayed! And y'all sent..... 🙏

This book is brilliant. I don't have one bad thing to say about this story! 
The writing is brilliant here. For this to be Verity Lowell's first book she did a damn fantastic job! 
It flowed so well and had such an inventive setting. 
Being in Spain Verity set the most romantic scene SPAIN!!!! 
Charlotte and Adrianna's chemistry leaves something to be desired here. 
I couldn't get enough of it. Their chemistry leaves something to be desired,
A laugh-out-loud funny; her cast of characters is vibrant and engaging.... 
The book as a whole is the type of escape readers long for. 
I loved it! It was everything I was anticipating and then some! 
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Special thanks to NetGalley and HARLEQUIN /Carina Press for sharing this amazing digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.
I'll post my review to my platforms closer to pub date!
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Interesting FF Romance Brought Down By Preachy Politics And Blatant Racism. As a romance, this book works. It starts out as a "forced" (ish) proximity before turning into a bridge-the-gap, all revolving around two female academics at different points in their careers. Not for the "clean" / "sweet" crowd, as others have noted there is a fair amount of sex in the first four chapters alone. Also falls into the trap of describing both women as very buxom, which is a bit of a cop-out to my mind designed to get those of us with... "active imaginations"... more into the book. But that point is but a minor quibble. The preachy politics, and in particular the blatant racism, is the reason for the star deduction here. Let me be perfectly clear. My standard is this: If you reverse the [insert demographic in question] and keep everything else absolutely identical, would anyone cry foul? I believe this book fails that test in its characterization of its singular straight white male character, and thus the star deduction. But still, on the whole this is a mostly solid book, and thus it is *only* a singular star deducted. Fans of the romance genre generally should enjoy this one, fans of FF romances in particular will probably thoroughly enjoy this one, and it does indeed dive into areas not frequented, particularly academia and art professors. Thus, this book is recommended.
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While I really enjoyed the setting of this book and I thought the main character had such an interesting job, I found the pacing to be quite rushed. I personally prefer my romances to have more of a build-up. On top of that, the writing style wasn't my cup of tea at all, so I ended up not finished this book.
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