Title: Solve for i
Author: A.E. Dooland
Published in February 2017
Genre: contemporary (adult)
Rating: 4/5 stars – really liked it
Maths wiz Gemma Rowe has found the one problem her maths can’t solve: she’s fallen for her female & very heterosexual best friend.
Gemma Rowe is a shy maths nerd from Sydney who, despite having an affinity for probability and logic, only just worked out at 28 that she’s not actually straight. Not only is she not straight, but she’s developed feelings for her best friend Sarah.
Sarah and Gemma go way back—since they met at university, they’ve been completely inseparable. They’ve travelled together, got jobs at the same company, and shared each other’s triumphs and sorrows. There was even that one memorable time when Sarah, completely drunk, told Gemma she couldn’t live without her. A relationship seems like the perfect solution.
There’s just one teensy little problem with this whole equation: Sarah is straight.
I have no idea how I came to buy this ebook, but it had been on my Kindle a while before I decided to read it. I’ve been trying to read more LGBT+ fiction, especially f/f relationships since they’re so underrepresented compared to m/m ones. Solve for i is an adult contemporary novel that revolves around Gemma, a 28-year-old woman who is coming to terms with the fact that she might not be straight after all.
Gemma has been in love with her best friend, Sarah, for years but has always blown it off as the love of a best friend or a girl crush. However, she’s been struggling with being just friends with Sarah more and more, and her painful shyness does not help her case at all. What is she supposed to do? She can’t tell Sarah, because Sarah is not only heterosexual, but also in a loving relationship and pregnant. But how do you get over someone you spend all your time with? That’s the dilemma Gemma is currently facing.
I have to admit that I struggled a bit with the first half of this book. Gemma is 28 years old, but I constantly felt like I was reading from the perspective of a woman who is definitely younger than I am – I’m 24, by the way. I guess that’s because I’m not incredibly shy, and while I am afraid to speak up at work sometimes, I don’t let it hinder me as much as she does.
What I had most trouble with at the start is how the friendship between Gemma and Sarah was way too dependent. It’s like they couldn’t function without each other! They were angry when the other didn’t immediately answer a call or respond to a text or were worried when they didn’t want to spend an evening together or had other plans. That seems so utterly ridiculous to me, at 28! People live busy lives, and can’t always respond to a text or answer a call. And maybe they’re busy and can’t spend a day with you. That’s not the end of the world! It just seemed so ridiculous to me, that these two adult women could have a friendship that didn’t allow room for much else in their lives.
That’s especially notable in where Gemma works. She only started working at that company because Sarah works there, and even requests a transfer into Sarah’ team – marketing – even though she has no interest in it whatsoever. That’s so messed up to me!
However, the author made up for that in the second half. We watch Gemma accept herself, and admit to herself that she’s gay. We watch her go on dates, and become more involved in the other friendships in her life. She learns to let go of Sarah somewhat, and become more of her own person. Their relationship becomes much healthier, and I couldn’t be happier to see that.
I have to admit that I flew through the second half of the book. I suddenly cared so much about Gemma, and her new date (won’t say who though). I fell in love with the side characters, especially Min, and wanted to read more about them too. The second part of the book was basically the feel-good f/f romance I was expecting to read from the beginning.
I will definitely read more works by A.E. Dooland! I discovered that there are two books that focus on Min, who was by far my favorite character in this novel. I can’t wait to check those out!
Overall, I would recommend this if you’re searching for more LGBT+ contemporary with f/f relationships. It was fun, cute, and made me root for the characters by the end. Just be warned that it starts out with a not-so-healthy friendship (in my opinion). I think there is 1 more explicit scene, but if you don’t like to read about sex, you could easily skip that part. It’s not very relevant to the plot at all. If you are into that, there you go! From what I remember, there’s only one though.