Written in the Stars is the debut novel of Alexandria Bellefleur, released in 2020. A lesbian romance novel, it cribs a few surface details from Pride and Prejudice to introduce a fluffy tale of love, lust, and deception set in present-day Seattle.
Elle is the co-creator of a popular astrology blog, Oh My Stars, who has just entered into a major partnership with a dating app, OTP. Its founder, Brendan, sets Elle up on a date with his put-together insurance actuary sister Darcy. The date is a disaster but soon the two of them decide to pretend it went well to keep their well-meaning but pushy family members from trying to set them up with yet more random people. Quickly they discover that the poor circumstances of the first date hid real chemistry; do they want to pursue this for real or is there just too much baggage hanging around?
This is the first romance novel I ever read. After being out as trans for a while, I began to wonder what I'd missed in my years of pretending to be a man. Romance fiction was near the top of the list. Being a lesbian, I wasn't feeling too interested in straight romance novels, so I went online to try to find lesbian romances. Thankfully, since it's 2021, I did find some. A whole category on the Kobo ebook shop for LGBT romance with a subsection just for lesbian romance. And on the day I searched, this book was selling at #1 because it was on sale.
Approaching the book with a spirit of openness, I found myself enjoying the breezy tone and simple stakes. In my earlier years, I always wanted to see some kind of importance in the stories that I read, and while that brought me a lot of good reading it also made reading fiction into something of a chore. Written in the Stars was an excellent palate cleanser and I really reconnected with the fun of a good story. The well-drawn characters and ridiculous situations frequently had me giggling into my e-reader, from embarrassing encounters at brunch to Elle's endless series of "the signs as X" listicles for Oh My Stars.
Darcy and Elle's relationship progresses through a variety of cute interactions, mistakes that cause problems, mistakes that end up very right, emotional disclosures, and a couple of very hot sexual encounters. I found myself enthralled the whole way through. Without spoiling anything important, I can say that the book ends with an act of emotional vulnerability that brought me to tears and wrapped things up beautifully.
I'm still connecting with all the things I cut myself off from in pursuit of the illusion of masculinity. Many of them have brought me joy when they arrived, and romance fiction is definitely one of them. I've read two more romance novels since finishing Written in the Stars last month, and I enjoyed both of them as well. Knowing where the story is going doesn't rob individual moments of their power and personal stakes are large enough for all the feelings you might want to feel.
I don't expect this book to be transformative for others in the same way it has been for me, but I still wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with an interest in romantic comedy.
Alexandria Bellefleur has written a follow-up book, Hang the Moon, which focuses the romance on Darcy's brother Brendan, that will come out in May 2021. I'm planning to read it when it comes out, even if the central romance is much more hetero than I am.