A Hidden Hope by Laura Ambrose
Publisher – Penglass Publishing
Published – Out Now
Price - £2.29 Kindle ebook
Natalie and El used to be writing critique partners, sharing their work chapter by chapter. Falling in love off-page was like the next part of the story. But after a huge falling out, three years have passed in bitter silence.
When they both appear at a science fiction convention in London, Natalie, a struggling writer, wants nothing to do with El, the hot debut novelist who sold her book at auction under a male pseudonym. But over the weekend, ignoring each other – and their attraction – proves impossible, not least because they have several panels together. Can El hope to atone for the mistakes of their past, and is Natalie willing to let hope fly?
Back in January (2018 has been a lonnnng year has it not?) I did say I wanted to read outside my wheelhouse from time to time so other book types will appear. Laura Ambrose is more familiar to me for her charming Pantomime YA books and her near future cyberpunk thrillers (please look them up they’re great) so she is now an author I am on the look-out for in terms of new projects and when she announced new romances I was intrigued. Pleased to say it was a charming and at times passionate story of rekindled love plus its at a science fiction convention!!
Welcome to Londcom a large science fiction convention where two US guests have been invited for panels. Unknown to the organisers El and Natalie knew each other in their early writing days El learnt to love the SF genre and Natalie loved El’s use of language. Talking through the web ld to friendship and ultimately romance but El slammed down the gates and it’s been quiet. Natalie is therefore alarmed that El is revealed to be the new hot debut author no one knows who is about to be unveiled as a woman to the SF community. Natalie however is more a mid-list author going through the grind of having enough ideas for the next book to be commissioned. A conflict is inevitably on the cards but El would like a chance to explain herself.
I really liked the structure of the romance based around panels. Any convention goer is going to recognise the subjects and some of the guests (including humourless white male author wanting things the old way) and we start off with our two main characters in conflict. El the verbose author and Natalie the initially more reserved character but as these two orbit each other and have an important chance to communicate it’s clear that both has had an impact on the course of their lives. Despite the current conflict there is a sense that these two really do work for each other on many levels means the ultimate resolutions are totally appropriate for the characters we spend time with individually.
There is a key set piece where the two characters go on a secret cinema date and the choice of venue and the atmosphere it creates for their potentially final ever date is beautifully played. Totally suitable for two geeks with an evocative setting. I can’t spoil this scene too much but it’s worth it. The final aspect to win me over was the focus on need for people to talk to each other and partnerships are ultimately based on communication; even if people eventually decide it may not be enough.
This is a beautiful, sensual and at time very penetrating look at the world of cons and publishing that establishes its reality well and then allows for the romance of the two leads to progress and win the reader over so you’re rooting for these two women to sort things out. I will definitely look out for future novels from Laura Ambrose in future.