As a Black biromantic asexual woman, Alice Johnson has a lot of garbage to deal with. From various microaggressions concerning her race, to her ex-girlfriend dumping her for her lack of interest in sexual intimacy, life isn't easy. However, with two amazing best friends and a sweet new part-time job at her local library, Alice's life is working out pretty well for her. That it until the library’s other part-time employee, Takumi, steps into the picture, and Alice's life is about to get messy.
From its beautiful ace pride-themed cover Let's Talk About Love is a welcome addition to the asexual romance genre (whatever little of it exists, anyway). The protagonist Alice is an basically an absolute cinnamon roll. She loves her friends, loves pop culture, and is trying to live her life to the fullest degree that she can. Meanwhile, she's like any other millennial college student, dealing with strict, overachieving parents who want her to become as successful as them, while not knowing exactly what path she wants to take in life. On top of that, Alice has been accumulating multiple heartaches from failed relationships because her partners didn't or wouldn't have understood her asexuality. When Alice realizes that she might be falling for her new co-worker, she's both excited and terrified, wondering whether romance is the cards for her at all.
As a woman on the asexual spectrum myself, much of Alice's concerns about love and identity ring very true to me. As an asexual person interested in a romantic relationship, dating can be a major pain in the neck. Each time I log onto a new dating app, or meet someone who seems interested in me, there is that awareness of needing to eventually come out, a process exhausting in itself without the factor of romance. For each time that I reveal my asexuality, there is always that present fear of misunderstanding or rejection from potential partners. At best, it can be oblique confusion from people who have never heard of the term asexual before to potential harassment and violence, including the threat of corrective rape to "fix" a person's asexuality. The author Claire Kann (whom Geeks OUT interviewed recently) addresses the complex nature of the asexual spectrum, portraying common frustrations with stereotypes, such as asexual people being emotionally unavailable to romantic relationships or asexuality stemming from trauma. The book in itself is not a full discourse on asexuality, nor does it try to be, portraying Alice's voice as one among many in a beautifully, yet woefully underrepresented community.
Let's Talk about Love is a fun, romantic read, brimming with diversity and love for its characters and for love itself. If you are looking for a romance with thoughtful representation of intersectional identities with a asexual lead, then I would recommend this book for you.