Blessed Twice is a novel about a widowed lesbian, Briony, and her shy colleague coming together in their academic workplace after the main character realizes she’s ready to start dating again.
It begins at the wedding of two of Briony’s friends, and for a while the first chapter read like an all-female version of the opening chapters of The Hobbit as the author introduced all of Briony’s lesbian clique at once. But then I was launched into the aftermath of the wedding as Briony comes home to an empty house and decides to pack up the rest of her dead wife’s stuff, and I was moved nearly to tears.
Everything to do with Briony’s loss and healing—the physical objects that carry special meaning, the part where her young son recognizes that she’s acting like her old self, the raw fear when he asks if he can go rock-climbing (which was how his other mom died)—was very well executed by the author.
This is a good novel if you want a place to mentally hang out where lesbians never have anything bad happen to them that’s “lesbian-specific.” In other words, nobody’s parents kicked them out; there is sexual assault both attempted (and thwarted) and past (not described) but neither case happened specifically because of lesbophobia. Even the main antagonist is pretty much just a sexist jerk who’s jealous of Briony professionally, not a specifically lesbophobic jerk. It also has a happy ending and a very solid loving relationship that I believed in.
I do have to say, the love interest, with her childhood sexual traumas leading to extreme inability to participate in sexual intimacy until Briony’s patience and love lets her overcome it, reminded me of this trope. Many people who identify as asexual already have people saying, “No, you’re not – you’re just [like this character].” She’s an obvious example of the thing people think asexual people are, when in fact many are not, and until other types of asexual people get as much visibility as this one narrative, they’ll be swept under the rug and mistaken for her. That being said, what this character goes through is a real phenomenon, and those who have survived such experiences may find it meaningful to see how happy of an ending this character gets.