Taking Chance by Erin McKenize
Published: December 11, 2018 by Bold Strokes Books
Genre: LGBTQ+ Contemporary Romance
Children’s librarian Valerie Cruz has worked hard to make a comfortable life for herself since aging out of the foster care system. She loves her job but avoids intimate connections—life has taught her that she can only count on herself. When she gets the opportunity to become a foster parent, Val decides to take the leap. If she can help kids, she’ll do it, even if it means reentering the system.
Foster care case worker Paige Wellington is passionate about her work, and she’s been a foster parent herself. When she meets the beautiful Valerie Cruz, she is drawn to her in a way she can’t explain, even though Valerie seems to want nothing to do with her. But when they clash over what is in the best interest of the children in Valerie’s care, the children may be the ones who teach them that it’s worth taking chances for love.
I struggled a lot with Taking Chances because while I enjoyed it as a story I think it failed as a romance. Everything starts with Val signing up for a class to become a foster parent and meeting Paige Wellington, a social worker, who stirs an attraction in Val that she wants nothing to do with. Both Paige and Val have been hurt by past relationships and have avoided them ever since.
As they spend time together in the class Paige begins to reach out as a friend and things are progressing nicely until Paige becomes the social worker for Val’s first placement. After this they keep things professional (for a long time) and this is where I felt the romance fell flat. Up to the 60% mark Paige and Val hardly spend any time together and when they do it’s in a professional context. Because of this there is a seriously slooooow burn for these women because they don’t even kiss until the last quarter of the book. Because everything is so business related I had a hard time believing that Paige would fall in love so fast. I believed that Paige and Val cared about each other but I needed more development for them as a couple to really be convinced.
While I wasn’t on board with the romance, I did really like Paige and Val as characters. Paige is a single mother with an adopted daughter and she’s so compassionate and caring. Her devotion to helping Val as a foster mother comes across clearly and it’s obvious that she’s an incredibly sweet woman. Val has a harder shell to crack but she’s also had a hard childhood that means she keeps people at a distance. Becoming a foster parent has brought up a lot of bad memories for Val and I enjoyed reading about her journey to work through her emotions and concerns. Val goes through a lot of growth throughout the story and I appreciated the positive view of therapy that Erin McKenize writes about.
I wish that I could have liked this one more but I just never really believed the romance side of the story.
**Reader Safety: Discussion of foster care, childhood trauma, family separation
2 stars – it was ok
ARC provided by NetGalley for honest review