The AfterEllen Summer of Love: “Same Time Next Week” by Emily Smith

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Every Friday through September, we’ve been posting a review of a lesbian/bi-themed romance novel as part of our Summer of Love. Read them here. This is our final review, so we hope you’ve enjoyed the Summer of Love.

If you’ve found yourself in a passionless, loveless marriage, reading Same Time Next Week written by Emily Smith may be the either the best idea or the worst idea you make this Labor Day weekend.

BSB-SameTimeNextWeek

Same Time Next Week centers around Alex Harris, a lesbian lawyer. Need I say more? Well, I do need to. She’s married to Beth, an Applebee’s bartender, however their monogamous marriage of three years is starting to lack the excitement it once had. But all the riblet baskets you can handle. They also have a cat which I find important in noting because this is a lesbian romance novel after all. On Alex’s usual weekly stint at the café she frequents, she meets Michelle, who seems to be doing the same thing at the same time each week. Sound familiar? It should because it’s the title. Michelle is a stunning nurse with a wit that Alex can hardly keep up with. Wait so Alex is in an unhappy marriage and then meets a super attractive lesbian nurse that revs up her metaphorical but also somewhat literal engine? I’ll keep reading. (Her engine is her vagina).

Alex and Michelle’s weekly meet-ups start to escalate. From Michelle bluntly asking “Do you love your wife?” to accidental hand grazes. I repeat, accidental hand grazes!! Alex soon finds that what she’s not finding in her marriage, she believes she’s found with her new not-so-platonic nurse buddy. More and more about Alex’s past starts to seep through the narrative. Alex reveals that she’s cheated on every girlfriend she’s ever had. Who is this girl? My ex-girlfriend?

As the story moves forward, Alex and Michelle abandon the setting of the coffee shop and move towards more romantic settings: candlelit dinners, a 4th of July weekend getaway where Michelle grew up, even a wedding. All the while, Alex lies to Beth about her whereabouts. Despite the romantic settings, Alex and Michelle never touch once. Now I know what you may or may not be thinking: Is this cheating?

You may find trouble reading on about what, for the most part (no spoilers) is heavily an emotional affair. The book really begs the question: Is emotional cheating still cheating? If your willingness to try in the marriage completely dissipates due in part to your attraction to someone else outside your marriage, but you haven’t reached the physical part, is it still cheating? Alex lies to Beth, more than once. Alex knows she’s doing something wrong but then justifies to herself that she isn’t. You can truly feel the protagonist’s confusion and somewhat delusional take on her moral code. She goes from wanting it to work with Beth to vehemently loathing Beth for holding her back. Who is she, my ex-girlfriend?

Though the book explores a hard topic, it’s not dry of awkward, comedic situations; see: Beth demanding to meet Michelle and the three women having a meal together. Moments of self-awareness from every character about what is wrong and what is right take a bit of the edge off of the jarring subject matter.

Without giving away spoilers, I’ll say that any form of adultery is a hard sell. The relationship between Alex and Michelle really begs the question if you should be allowed to have long-standing attractions outside your marriage that give you the butterflies that you haven’t been getting? How far is too far? Is this girl my ex-girlfriend?

 You can find Same Time Next Week through Bold Strokes, Amazon or your favorite bookstore.

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