By Any Other Name by Natasha West
This is a lesbian Romeo & Juliet riff, it’s funny and adorkable, and I loved it. 😀
It has some grammar issues, especially in the early chapters, but I don’t really mind them – it’s the same as the way you can enjoy a fanfic that’s full of sincere feelings but maybe not quite as polished as it could be. That is EXACTLY what this book feels like. It’s funny, sincere, and full of vivid characters, and it feels very much as if it’s written from the heart, poured out onto the page in the way of a fanfic that the author was really enjoying writing. It’s light, breezy, and above all, fun. I loved spending time with these characters and would happily read other books involving other family members.
The protagonists, Casey and Lane, are two girls from feuding families in a small British town who meet without knowing the other’s identity and then discover that their families are longtime enemies. The romance is sweet and convincing, with some hilarious yet plausible mishaps (in one of my favorite bits, while trying to wake Casey by throwing pebbles at her window, Lane first wakes up Casey’s pesky younger sister and then, when Casey opens her window at exactly the wrong moment, pastes her in the face with a rock instead). Also, there are matchmaking sheep.
And the family feud is fantastic – it’s hilarious and frustrating in equal measure, and the entire cast of both families are convincing as a bunch of hardheaded weirdos who have hated each other for as long as anyone can remember without any of them actually being bad or unlikable people.
I had a certain suspension-of-disbelief issue with the two protagonists not recognizing each other on sight, given how intimately their families appear to be tangled together, but I’m willing to forgive that because the rest of the book is just so much fun. I’ll definitely be looking up other books by this author, because well-done lesbian romcom is not exactly a genre flowing over with options, and this was really delightful.