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“More Than a Best Friend”: Review of sapphic romance book

more than a best friend book

New sapphic, Victorian, romance novel just dropped in the UK! (*screams of joy*)

Emma R. Alban’s new Victorian romance novel, More Than a Best Friend, was released 11th January in the UK and we are very excited about this book. We have been lucky enough to read the fab new novel and wow wow wow!!! We’ll keep major spoilers out, don’t worry, but we’re definitely going to need a little while to emotionally recover after writing this review. No fear, we have nothing but love to give for it, we’re just recovering from all of the plot twists and shocks throwing us in every which way. This book will have you thinking “what? no way!”, a million times before the end. 

This is the kind of book where you find yourself up at 2 A.M. deciding to read “one more chapter” … and then reading decidedly four more chapters, at least. The whole thing had us on the edge of our seats. This book had us feeling ALL of the feelings. Seriously, this face must’ve looked uncannily like at least five emojis whilst reading those last few chapters. We highly recommend it to anyone, particularly if you’re a fan of a good Victorian period romance, and particularly if you’ve found yourself on more than one occasion wondering why there aren’t more sapphic Victorian stories out there. 

More Than a Best Friend follows the lives of Gwen and Beth, two women living in 1857, as they navigate the London season and sneakily try to match-make Gwen’s father and Beth’s mother – Lord Havenfort and Lady Demeroven. One of the most amazing parts of this book is the side characters, too. They’re all icons in their own ways (some of them not the nicest, albeit) but every single character in this book is so vividly imaginable and carries a whole personality. Alban writes with intention and nothing in this book feels like a filler, it’s literally all so captivating and interesting. 

We were amazed at how authentic the book felt to its respective time period whilst simultaneously being so relatable. It really drags you in to the story and you feel no more than a breath away from the characters at any given moment. One of the most beautiful things about this book is the acceptance and joy that the characters are able to experience. Seriously, it’s great to read stories about characters from a little further back in time that are so happy whilst being queer and so accepted by the people around them.

Honourable mention to all of the innuendos and one-liners in this book! We think we’re going to have to go back to the beginning to really spot them all but there are certainly some lines where you’re just raising your eyebrows with a little smirk on your face. It’s great feeling like you’re in on the secret when you’re reading, a cheeky little bit of dramatic irony. That’s one of the great things about the format of it, Alban switches between Gwen and Beth’s perspective, so we’re almost playing as one of them at a time. It’s great. 

I think we all love a forbidden romance, right? Who doesn’t? That’s another thing that makes this book so very exciting. At its core, it’s a novel about forbidden, heart-wrenching, stomach-flipping romance. It’s just that it’s like the novel has drank ten coffees, and any heart-wrenching and stomach-flipping and romance has been escalated accordingly. We LOVE it. 

We seriously dare you to try not to gasp in shock and awe at least once while reading this novel. Be it the love stories, the drama, the comedy, the (MANY) plot twists, the outbursts – it’s gasp-worthy, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as reading your book on the train and knowing something about this plot that would make everyone else on the train gasp too, if only they knew. Seriously though, if you do choose to read this book in public, we feel extremely obliged to tell you, as our good deed of the day, that chapter thirteen and fourteen are less than boring, in that they’re very spicy, and you might like to know. You know, in case you’ve just started chapter thirteen in a public place and the stranger next to you is reading along with you, you might want to see their reaction (or, like, warn them?). 

You truly do begin this novel on one emotional rollercoaster and, just when you think Alban’s going to throw you upside down with one plot twist, she throws you downside up and suddenly your lower jaw is on the floor. The epilogue left us with quite the cliff-hanger indeed, but it’s all something to look forward to, right? (we literally will not stop thinking about it until it is resolved.) If what comes after the epilogue is any indication (it literally directly says there will be a book out in Summer 2024) then we hope to have a book out in Summer 2024 which will hopefully settle at least some of our questions! Titled You’re the Problem, It’s You, we look forward to it horrendously.

This is a book for the “Bridgerton” fans, the sapphic-romance hunters, the romance hunters in general, people who LOVE being tossed around by one plot twist after another, people who love a good heartache and people who love to read books that leave you on the edge of your seat. Do you know how many times we put this book down to do something else and then picked it back up literally immediately because it was so good? Too many. 

Point being, this book is great and now available for purchase in the UK. Read it, drink it up, process, take the time to recover and then come back here and tell us how much you loved it in the comments. We did cast a few “Bridgerton” actors whilst imagining the characters, but maybe that’s just us!

Buy your copy online or at any decent bookstore.

We want to hear all of the thoughts you folks have on the book! Let us know in the comments. Want more recommendations? Here are “13 Books For Queer Women“!

Love always, Team Nonchalant x

Jo Carter
Jo Carter

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