ARC Review: Queerly Beloved

Queerly Beloved by Susie Dumond
Publication Date: 03 May 2022

I found the premise of Queerly Beloved very intriguing: a semi-closeted queer woman, working at a Christian bakery in conservative Oklahoma in the days before marriage equality, takes on a side gig of being a bridesmaid-for-hire after getting outed at her job and fired. Although the concept is thought-provoking, I found the execution to be a little uneven.

What I liked:

  • A sobering look at what life and love were like in the days before gay marriage was legal. As pleased as I am that we have finally reached a place where more people believe that love is love, and there is greater, if not total acceptance, it still saddens me to think that less than twenty years ago the queer community had to stand on the outside looking in as others were allowed to be legally bound to each other, and had to consider their surroundings before showing affection in public.
  • Watching Amy on her journey of personal growth. Throughout most of the book she manages to be both a people-pleaser and self-centered, so it’s interesting to watch her move somewhere in the middle by the end of the book.
  • Amy’s friends. Although most of them are fairly one-dimensional, I do love a story of found family.
  • The epilogue. I love epilogues in general, but am disappointed when they take place like two weeks after the rest of the story. In this book, we get a nice long time gap, and are able to see Amy and her extended found family and get updates on their lives and loves.
  • The cupcake recipe at the end. Don’t miss it!

What I didn’t:

  • The love interest, Charley, is a completely one-dimensional character. By the end of the book we know not a bit more about her than when she and Amy first met – she’s an engineer from Texas who moved to Tulsa to work in the oil and gas industry. That’s it.
  • This is packaged as a rom-com, but there isn’t a whole lot of romance to be found. We have some insta-love (at least on Amy’s part) and then there is a very long period of time when her relationship with Charley is pushed to the side. And then it comes back at the very end and everything wraps up with a happily-ever-after bow on top. It would more properly be categorized as women’s or LGBTQ fiction.
  • The slow pace of the first half of the book. There were a lot of weddings and that was kind of interesting but at one point I just wondered where the story was going. However, the last part of the book was beautiful and made me cry. So kudos for that.
  • Overall, I think it could have used another round or two of editing. Like I said, I love the concept, I just wish the execution had been a bit cleaner.

This book also comes with some content warnings: homophobia, outing, infidelity, a reference to conversion therapy, familial estrangement, references to a parent’s battle with cancer.

Thank you to NetGalley and The Dial Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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