Romance Book Review: When Sparks Fly by Kristen Zimmer

Romance Book Review

When Sparks Fly
Author: Kristen Zimmer
Publication Date: April 28, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genres: Romance

When Sparks Fly is an impossibly beautiful read that had me on the verge of tears more than once. Britton, Avery, and Spence are such wonderful characters, immediately endearing and engaging, with an overlapping triangle of love and friendship that, for much of the book, could have gone either way. Kristen Zimmer doesn't just make us care about these girls, she makes us want to care for them - which brings me to the most surprising element of the story.

Tom and Cate's fostering of Britton is one of those things where convention and cliché make it hard for us to expect a happy ending. They seem too good, too perfect, too loving, and the ways in which Britton tries to maintain her distance breaks our hearts as much as it does hers. When you add in the romantic complications of Avery, their closeted daughter, you can't help but expect disaster with every twist. I won't spoil anything, but I think this may be the most realistic and loving adopted family I've ever had the pleasure of encountering on the page.

There's a secret behind their love and acceptance, just as there's a secret behind the animosity between Avery and Spence, and that secret is what challenges the romance even as it propels it forward. Strong storytelling, near-perfect pacing, and a sweet romance populated by fabulous characters make uncovering that secret a delight. Everything about this feels age-appropriate, with high school seniors who look and sound like you'd expect. It's a refreshingly relaxed environment, free of any overt bullying or tension, allowing Zimmer to focus on the beauty of photography, the joys of stolen lunchtime moments, and the emotional turmoil of the big dance.

The slow-burn romance is the highlight here, of course, and I loved how (and why) that developed. There are so many ways it could have gone wrong, so many ways what's sweet and beautiful could have come across as trashy or taboo, that I felt almost as much relief as I did happiness. I enjoyed When Sparks Fly immensely and am eager to read more of Zimmer's work.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ 

About the Author

Kristen Zimmer is a New Jersey-based freelance writer and editor. A member of the International Women’s Writing Guild, she holds a B.A. in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing from Montclair State University. When not busy writing or burying her nose in books of the YA/New Adult fiction persuasion, Kristen enjoys spending time with her family, which includes two adorable black Lab mixes and a very patient Better Half.

About the Book

The room is dark, except for the streetlights coming through the blinds. I can barely see her, but I feel her. She pushes me up against the wall and we kiss harder than we ever have before. I’ve been waiting so long for it to happen, and finally, it’s going to. Then the bedroom door flies open, and someone screams her name…

Britton Walsh has never had a home. After a lifetime in the care system, she doesn't expect she’ll ever find one. But beginning her senior year with new foster parents in a new city, means starting over yet again. Tom and Cate Cahill seem okay. The hitch? Their daughter, Avery.

Beautiful, popular and cool, Avery is everything Britton is not. She’s all Britton could ever ask for in a sister, or even a friend––but having survived without either for so long, Britton knows the way her heart races whenever Avery enters the room can only mean one thing…

But Avery has a secret. Something that is eating away at her and stopping her letting anyone in, least of all Britton. Will Avery’s insistence on punishing herself for a mistake in her past make Britton's last year of high school, and finding a place to call home, impossible? Can two such different people ever find common ground, friendship, or maybe even something more?

An unforgettable new adult lesbian romance for fans of Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters, Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen, or Nancy Garden’s classic young adult coming out novel, Annie on My Mind.

New Adult novel: recommended for 17+ due to mature themes and sexual content.

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  1. I'm finishing this book now and I was like "oh let me read this review..." I'm mad I did because there's no way my review will be anywhere as good as yours.

  2. LOVED your review. It made writing mine really hard!

    Mine is posting tomorrow and I ended up linking it to yours because of how much I enjoyed it.

    1. Thanks - I'm flattered! I'll definitely swing by tomorrow to check out your review. :)


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