Saturday, October 23, 2021

REVIEW: Above All, Honor (book) by Radclyffe

Above All, Honor is the first book in Radclyffe's Honor series. The back of the book calls it "lesbian fiction." I went into it thinking it was lesbian romance, which I suppose it is, but it doesn't exactly follow the romance conventions I'm used to.

This review includes slight spoilers.


Cameron Roberts, a Secret Service Agent, has physically recovered from the assignment that killed the woman she loved, but she's not sure she'll ever be the same emotionally. She's initially frustrated when she's assigned to protect Blair Powell, the daughter of the President of the United States, thinking it'll be little more than a babysitting assignment and a waste of her skills. She soon realizes that guarding Blair is a lot more challenging than that. 

The First Daughter has had so little privacy most of her life that she now does everything she can to achieve moments of freedom. Although she behaves perfectly at public functions, she rarely tells her Secret Service agents her personal plans ahead of time, and she can be nearly unrecognizable when she wants to be. It's not unusual for her to slip off for one night stands with women who have no idea who she is. 

Cam intrigues Blair, but the agent is too tightly controlled and professional to let her own reaction show. However, keeping emotionally distant becomes more difficult when Blair finds herself the target of a stalker.

I got this from a used bookstore two or three years ago and attempted to read it back then but found that my disgust with the presidential administration at the time made it impossible to enjoy a story about even a fictional First Daughter. Thankfully, it was an easier read this time around.

I've been meaning to try one of Radclyffe's books for years. Some review I read somewhere described her as the Nora Roberts of lesbian romance in terms of quality and output. While I thought this book was decent, that description set up a few expectations I'd have been better off without.

For one thing, although I'm sure the series as a whole qualifies as lesbian romance, this particular book didn't follow the romance conventions I'm used to. Cam and Blair had sex quite a bit throughout, but almost all of it involved other people. I was initially okay with this, but one instance in particular threw me - Blair had sex with one of her Secret Service agents, primarily because she was upset that Cam rejected her. They weren't a couple, and didn't become a couple until the end of the book, but I still wasn't a fan of the way Blair behaved.

In general, I didn't really like Blair. I get it, she hated that her position meant she had people watching her all the time. She couldn't be open about her sexual orientation (although I'd be surprised if the tabloids didn't at least speculate about it, considering her frequent one night stands), and she felt fenced in. Still, she came across as bratty and childish. She knew her Secret Service agents had a job to do, and she largely made it as difficult as possible for them to do it properly. Thank goodness she at least cooperated at public functions and, somewhat, after it became evident that she had a stalker, or I wouldn't have been able to put up with her at all. I thought Cam was remarkably patient with her, considering.

I was disappointed with the stalking subplot, which was barely developed and never fully resolved. It felt like it was introduced mostly to make sure the book wasn't entirely about Blair doing her best to have sex with nearly any woman who caught her eye while Cam did her best not to show any reaction. Maybe the next book ties that thread up? As it was, this didn't feel like a complete book. 

I'm not sure yet whether I'll continue on with this series. The writing was decent, and I'd definitely be willing to try another one of Radclyffe's books, but Blair and Cam didn't work for me as a couple until nearly the end.

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