Also by this author: How to Make a Wish, Girl Made of Stars
Series: Bright Falls #3
Published by BERKLEY, Berkley Romance on October 24, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, LGBTQ, Romance
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Thank you so much to Berkley Romance for the free copy of Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date and to Kristin Cipolla for the invitation to take part in the blog tour for this book!
Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date is the third installment in Ashley Herring Blake’s Bright Falls series. I have loved every book in this series and every wonderful character we’ve met along the way so I couldn’t wait to dive in and finally get to know more about Iris.
When we meet Iris in this new book, she has embarked on a new career as an author of romance novels. Her debut novel went well, but she is struggling to write her second book and her own lackluster love life might be part of the problem. While Iris is thrilled that Astrid, Delilah, and everyone else in their friend group has found love, she often finds herself the odd man out, so to speak. One night, she decides to forget all of her troubles and heads to a bar in Portland. She meets, and is immediately attracted to, a sexy stranger named Stefania, and the two of them really hit it off. Instead of the hookup Iris was hoping for, however, the night ends in disaster. What Iris doesn’t realize at the time, however, is that Stefania is about to become a very important person in her life.
Following her agent’s advice to get out there and do something to take her mind off her writer’s block, Iris decides to try out for a local play that is a gender-bent retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. When she finds out who is playing the lead, Iris can barely believe it. It’s Stefania, whose real name turns out to be Stevie, and it becomes apparent that Stevie has told everyone involved with the play that she and Iris are dating. Stevie begs Iris to go along with it, so as not to embarrass her in front of everyone, and Iris decides to play along, figuring this ought to at least spark some ideas for writing her novel.
I loved this book so much! In spite of their failed one night stand, it’s obvious that Iris and Stevie have major chemistry. Iris is a fun and confident bisexual woman, but in this book, we finally get to see a vulnerable side to her that we haven’t seen before. Stevie is a former actor who has been dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, and the two of them were just so messy and flawed and honestly just perfect together. It was wonderful watching their relationship transform from fake to real, and to see how much they grew to care for, respect and support one another. Some of their more in-depth conversations about things they have gone through just really tugged at my heartstrings because it really made their relationship feel so authentic.
It wasn’t just all heartfelt, vulnerable moments between these two characters either. There was of course plenty of steam and humor, plus several fun appearances by the other members of Iris’ friend group. It also didn’t hurt that Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite Shakespearean comedy. Watching Iris and Stevie actually act out scenes from that play was just icing on what was already a fabulous cake for me.
Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date is another immensely satisfying and heartwarming installment in the Bright Falls series. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys sapphic romance, fake dating, and stories that feature fabulous friend groups/found families.