Soul Unique

Soul Unique - Gun Brooke This book is a feel-good romance about a talented painter with Asperger's and a gallery owner.

Nothing excites art gallery owners more than to be the first to discover amazing and hopefully unknown talents they can showcase to the world (and make a ton of money doing it). Roped into visiting an art school run by the rich, pretentious and ambitious Leyla Rowe, gallery owner Greer Landon, inadvertently discovers just such a talent, but not among the students. Hidden away in an upstairs room is Ms. Rowe's own daughter Hayden who suffers from Asperger's but wields a mean paintbrush. Greer is aghast at Hayden's situation, and immediately moves to protect and nurture her. But then her feelings for Hayden go beyond protectiveness and admiration...

This is a fast and easy read. No unnecessary angst, no major complications, no ethical or moral dilemmas to ponder over. Imagine if all lesfic MCs were this logical and practical, most of our favorite books would be half the length :)

The pairing is here is atypical, so you never know what's gonna happen next. And that's the best part of the book. It's quite a page-turner in that sense. The romantic in me loved how fast and smooth the two main characters' relationship progressed. But the skeptic in me heard alarm bells ringing. After rescuing Hayden from her mother's 'prison', Greer in effect became Hayden's guardian/mentor/adviser, by deed if not by law. Yet not once did she seriously consider the moral implications of having a relationship with her 'ward'. At least not when Hayden started putting the moves on her. :)

Romance lovers should find the book just up their alley. However, people who want their lesfic with a little more substance (or realism, or angst, or depth) will find it a bit wanting. The rest of my review consists of my usual nitpicking over plot elements. Feel free to ignore completely if all you want to read is an enjoyable, upbeat romance, which the book delivers beautifully.

The book got off to an awkward start. I found the initial premise rather implausible: Art schools live or die on the artistic reputation/pedigree of the owner/director. Yet Leyla Rowe runs Rowe Art School with appallingly ZERO knowledge of art. She claims to pick only the 'best' students yet she can't tell that her own daughter is better than all of them, and is in fact, a prodigy? I also can't fully grasp her motivation for everything she does or doesn't do. Is she after more money? Why doesn't she see the golden goose in her possession, even after its been pointed out to her? And if Leyla's hubby's family is so stinking rich, why does she even have to work? Leyla is too over-the-top, almost a complete caricature.

This book features a protagonist with a somewhat debilitating social disability. I was expecting Hayden's Asperger's syndrome (inability to read social cues/sensory overload during intimacy) would be more of a hurdle than they were illustrated in the book. What we got was a sanitized feel-good version. While it's appropriate for the tone of the book and the intended audience, I wished the author had gone deeper into the challenges of living with and loving a person with this syndrome.

4.3 stars

This is advanced review copy from Netgalley

P.S. Is it just me or do the ladies on the cover look like fembots? ;)