Restrained Desires (Katherine McIntyre)

Restrained Desires is the third novel in the Rehoboth Pact series by Katherine McIntyre.
Finished on: 17.4.2022
[I won this book in thr LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia, fatmisia

Plot:
After years of her mother chipping away at her self-esteem, Kyle is convinced that she will never find the woman who is right for her, who will find her attractive. Even despite her best friend Aubrey’s attempt to be her wing-person. The only person Aubrey would never try to set her up with? Her little sister Chelsea, straight, freshly divorced and out to have a good time, now that she’s free again. But that doesn’t keep Kyle from finding her gorgeous. When Kyle confides in Chelsea that she has announced to her family that she will bring home a girlfriend, Chelsea offers to accompany her. And when Chelsea mentions that she would like to explore her kinky side, Kyle is there to go to the BDSM club with her. As the two start to spend more and more time together, they become closer. But could they actually work as a couple?

Restrained Desires is a sweet romance that reads quickly. I expected it to be a bit more sex-driven and kinky than it is, but I can’t say I minded that it concentrated on the fake dating trope, definitely a personal favorite. In short, I really enjoyed it.

The book cover showing a woman hugging another from behind, both smiling.

I haven’t read the first two novels in the series, but Restrained Desires mostly stands on its own. I am pretty sure, though, that reading the novels in order would have enhanced reading this one. At the very least, I would have get to know what the entire deal with the Rehoboth Pact is. Though it is only a very minor point here, so it didn’t bother me much.

What bothered me a little more was the fact that Kyle really struggles with her looks and her low self-esteem. That in itself was not that much of an issue, but the way she was reassured by Chelsea that she isn’t actually fat, the way it was constantly mentioned that she was “just big-boned” – well, that still implies that being fat is the worst and isn’t it good that Kyle isn’t fat? As a fat person I can tell you: I don’t appreciate this at all, nor do I like the talk of “sexy curves” in combination with it.

I also thought that Aubrey’s protectiveness of Chelsea was weird. It strikes me as intensely patriarchal to explode when you realize that one of your friends is dating your younger sibling (when everybody is an adult), and that we encounter this trope in a book full of queer women makes it feel entirely out of place.

But other than that, I enjoyed the novel a lot. I liked that Chelsea and Kyle are so very different and still fit together very well. I also felt that they are unusual characters and not the kind of women we encounter very often in fiction, which I definitely liked. The couple of sex scenes they had were pretty steamy and overall, it was a well-written novel with nice pacing. At times I did wish that the book would have stepped off the gas a little. Some epiphanies came a little too suddenly in the sense that the characters had to explain them to the reads more than we were along for the ride.

It probably won’t be among my favorite reads this year, but I definitely liked spending time with this women and cheering for their love.

Summarizing: sweet enough.

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