Growing up with incredibly conservative parents, Delilah has learned to be ashamed of her attraction to women, not just hiding it, but actually avoiding any chance of developing a relationship with another woman. But now that her parents are gone, she's faced with the juxtaposed feelings of freedom to do what she wants and shame about who she is. Falling for someone won't be as simple as it is for most people, as it means embracing herself and getting past what her late parents may have thought of her choice in a lover.
But... I'm not sure I can get on board with how bisexual women were portrayed in the book. Mind you, it wasn't a gigantic label applied to them all, but the couple of them who were part of the story were incapable of remaining faithful, as there was always that pull to the other sex. I'm positive this wasn't intentional, simply because that's not the feeling I get from Melissa Foster's myriad of characters, not to mention the plots of the upcoming books in this series. But at least for now it seemed to marginalize those who happen to enjoy both sides of the fence.
Judging Covers: Simply beautiful, just as I expected. And obviously two women, which I wouldn't point out, except that sometime after signing up to review Discovering Delilah, another email arrived to spell out that it's a lesbian love story. I can only guess that someone who hadn't paid the least bit of attention to Delilah's blatantly stated sexual orientation in the first book as well as the complete lack of male presence on the cover of this one was somehow shocked at the subject matter, creating worry that the rest of us might be equally oblivious. I don't understand humans. Still, gorgeous cover that's just perfect for the book.
The Verdict: Delilah knows she shouldn't be ashamed of who she is, but that's a hard obstacle to overcome when all she ever heard from her conservative parents was how homosexuality was wrong. Even being around friends and her brother who are not just tolerant but 100% welcoming of people regardless of sexual preference, she's having trouble finding her place.
Despite her reluctance to even think about a relationship, she's pretty much fallen head over heels for her good friend Ashley, but she has no idea if her advances, clumsy as they're sure to be, will be welcomed or humiliatingly rejected, and the insecurity is killing her. Then there's the fact that she's never even dipped a toe in being-with-a-woman pool, so while she knows what she wants, she's a nervous wreck about her lack of knowledge and experience. What should have been the awkward fumbling of growing up and experimenting now feels like crippling ignorance, and she's terrified of disappointing the woman she wants to be with, a woman who's no stranger to same sex relationships.
Another friend Janessa, who just so happens to be bi, actually ends up something of a catalyst for Delilah's change — if not immediately being able to accept herself, at least being able to move ahead with who she is. Offered a no-strings-attached first experience, Delilah goes for it, taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from Janessa without judgement and become more comfortable with what she wants. This was the scene I was most uncomfortable with, not because it was two women but because if I'm thinking of Delilah and Ashley like I would any other couple on a romance novel, Delilah shouldn't have been with Janessa at all. Had this been your standard male/female romance, and the guy hooked up with a friend because he wanted to basically learn sex, we would have expected him to (a) turn out to be a total douche, or (b) fall in love with that friend and live happily ever after. I really, really, really wanted Delilah's first experience to be with Ashley, so as well-intentioned as the night with Janessa was, it made me all kinds of uncomfortable. However, Delilah's not your standard romance heroine, and her fears about a relationship are certainly much different and more real than the usual contrived fears we read about in standard romances, so it's hard to completely judge.
Ashley, Delilah's best friend and giant crush, is out and open, but she has promised herself that she will never again fall for a girl who's still in the closet. You see, her previous relationship went up in flames when she discovered that her girlfriend wasn't just still in the closet but was actually involved with a man behind her back. Perhaps that ex had real feelings for her and was simply showing the world what they expected to see, but it also felt a bit like she made Ashley an experiment to satisfy curiosity. It's hard to say, but it definitely messed Ashley up.
Discovering Delilah did a wonderful job of exploring just how difficult it must be for someone to come out when not only surrounded by judgement but actually raised in it. For every real-life story of parents and loved ones accepting family members who aren't “straight,” there are dozens more in which people are ostracized and persecuted. Delilah's struggle with everything about her sexuality, from how to simply be to what others may think of her is an emotional ride, and Melissa Foster did a wonderful job of not only portraying Delilah's coming of age, but also showing every aspect of self-reflection in the process, from shame to confusion to determination and love. It's a sweet, sad, ultimately hopeful love story, and I can't wait to see where this series goes next.
***FicCentral received this book from Brook Cottage Books for free in exchange for an honest review.