I loved Xeni and reviewed it over at Love in Panels
In the Loose End series, Weatherspoon is writing HEAs for scene-stealing supporting characters from previous series, and while the romances between the MCs are absolutely central, I am loving the way Weatherspoon also centers the novels around the power of friendships and found families. This ever-present community of caring queer and POC friends, everywhere from the small town Xeni’s Aunt Sabel and Mason call home to Xeni’s Los Angeles, make it safe for Weatherspoon to explore heavy topics such as familial estrangement and biphobia..
The emotional intensity of Weatherspoon’s initial chapters, whether it is Claudia running for life straight in Shep’s arms in Haven, Liz fighting off an attacker in her home in Sanctuary or Sloan arriving home to discover her nanny has walked off the job and left her twin daughters alone at home with no notice in Rafe, powerfully introduce her heroines. We meet Xeni as she stands surrounded by near-strangers at her beloved aunt’s memorial desperately trying not to break down, and from that moment I loved her and wanted her to find her happy. And so it seems did her aunt who has arranged to do some matchmaking from beyond the grave.
Xeni’s inconvenient but necessary husband Mason is a plus-sized gentle but gigantic Scottish musician, who is as trapped as Xeni by her Aunt’s inheritance stipulations but never forgets just how much more painful and inconvenient this all is for Xeni. I loved how he looked for ways to make their temporary marriage be a source of joy, calm and security for her as she tried to sort out the truth after the startling will reading. From distracting her with kisses and later orgasms, to cooking for her at the end of a long day, and to helping her pack and sort through her Aunt’s house, Mason soon makes himself both irresistible and essential to Xeni even as they are both convinced their marriage will not last.
I am not a fan of instalust/instalove romances, but I adored the fated-mate energy to Xeni and Mason’s courtship. They have fantastic chemistry and easy rapport, so much so that Xeni can only come to believe that there is magic at work. But even as they have fantastic sex, from scorching hot pegging to tender kissing and cuddling, but they never lose sight of the peculiar intensity of being forced together in this way, just how much they don’t know about each other, and how much work they need to put into figuring out their family dramas. I was disappointed, however, about how the ending was structured, with too much of that work recapped and summed up in an abbreviated way. Their reunion lacked the emotional intensity, I was craving, although it still left me happy and hopeful for both of them, knowing them to be surrounded by folks who accept them, love them and want them thrive.
While it is mighty hard to top the sexy sweetness of last year’s Rafe I adored Xeni. While Xeni is a great deal angstier than Rafe, it was equally engrossing and hard to put down.
Content Warnings: Mention of past miscarriage, mention of past abortion, biphobia, homophobia, Past trauma: emotional abuse and coercion, grief, death of family member
Ana purchased this book.