Book Review: No Parking, by Valentine Wheeler
by Silas | 02/05/2020
No Parking, by Valentine Wheeler was a delightfully cozy romance with an intriguing cast of characters and a wide diversity in a small town setting:
When Marianne Windmere’s bakery customers begin complaining that her parking lot is always full, she assumes it must be customers for the new restaurant next door. She’s never met her neighbor, and with the parking lot situation, she has no interest in doing so. But when a snowstorm knocks out the power and traps both women in the building overnight, sparks fly–until the next morning, when the buried argument comes to a head.
Can they find a way to reclaim the magic of that night? And as decades-old secrets about the history of the town and Marianne’s family come to light, can they work together to save both their businesses?
Marianne Windmere hasn’t always owned her family’s nearly century old bakery, but she has for nearly three decades. It’s seen as an institution in the small town of Swanley as much as the town itself. She lives a quiet life rising early to prep for her long day in the bakery, shares her workspace with one dedicated, albeit young, employee, and fumes over the omnipresent cars flooding her parking lot. The likely culprit? The restaurant attached to the other side of the bakery, a unit she doesn’t own.
A snowstorm hits and causes her to push back her not-so neighborly feelings toward the owner of said restaurant and Marianne invites Rana to spend the night in her apartment above the bakery rather than attempt to drive home in the blizzard-like conditions. Their quiet night of companionship and food is lost on the both of them in the morning when they blame each other’s customers for the parking issue.
The romance between Marianne and Rana itself was tender and sweet. Marianne, divorced for fifteen years, identifies as bisexual, though she recalls a conversation she has with her adult child about the possibility of her being asexual. I just loved how queer positive this story was. All throughout, there are countless queer folks, trans, non-binary, lesbian, asexual, and so much more. The story held a casually attitude toward queer, which I couldn’t get enough of. I don’t recall Rana explicitly stating how she identifies but she was married to a man in the past and has children of her own.
The story does touch on a bit of issues that queer folks face—Zeke, the only employee of Marianne’s is a seven-teen year old trans boy who was kicked out of his parents’ home upon coming out—but not to an angsty extent. His kickass 90 year-old great-grandfather took him in.
The platonic relationship between Marianne and her ex-husband, Kevin, was well done, without any ill will toward each other, though she does remark—realistically—it took them both some time to get to the point of friendship but it’s nice.
I kind of wish there had been a bit more scenes with Rana and Marianne simply together but it was sweet as is. Maybe more scenes with them getting to know each other, sharing secrets or recipes, etc.
This was a lovely book with a tender romance and low-angst plot that was just what I needed. I felt as if I met all of the wonderful residents of Swanley as they visited Marianne’s bakery.
4 out of 5 Rainbows
Recommended Reader: Anyone looking for a queer representation that covers a wide range of ages.
You can find more from Valentine Wheeler on Twitter and her website.
Pre-Order No Parking today! The book will be released on February 10th, 2020. If you pre-order through a third party, you’ll get it on the 10th, but if you pre-order directly from NineStar Press, you’ll get it up to three days early!
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