REVIEW: 'Against the Grain' by Bryce Oakley
Updated: May 8
Finding good queer romance is something I really struggle with, especially romance that's WLW-centric—but oh boy, did Bryce Oakley's 'Against the Grain' deliver. The first in the Flippin' Fantastic trio, it's a sweet, romantic comedy focused on James and Zee, a matchup that works amazingly well.
James is a general contractor, house flipper and all-around handywoman—who is completely incapable of talking to attractive women. Which is exactly what Zee is; an absolute bombshell who James makes a fool of herself in front of the very first time they meet. And it only gets worse from there, with Zee getting increasingly frustrated by the racket caused by James's work on the house next door.
Ultimately though, the ice queen melts as James slowly integrates into Zee's life, and what follows is a genuinely sweet, heartwarming romance with just the right amount of heat.
I really related to Zee in particular; her difficulty in letting go of her role as her mom’s carer was something that really spoke to me. The difficult relationship she has with her sister, and how her family dynamic grows and improves over the course of the novel was a lovely touch, and I appreciate that Oakley took the time to give Zee's life outside of James real care and attention. Both Zee and James are strong characters in their own right, with their own unique problems and lives, and I loved seeing them interact with the other characters in addition to each other.
I did have some issues with the pacing, in that it felt like James and Zee managed to go from prickly awkwardness to head over heels incredibly quickly, but despite this their chemistry is undeniable and they really do work together.
'Against the Grain' was a highlight of the month for me, and I truly cannot wait to get my hands on the rest of the series!
Final verdict: 🍯🍯🍯🍯🍯!