3 out of 4 stars
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Acceptance by Rebecca Heidt is a book about just that: acceptance. However, it’s hidden behind layers of romance, a little action, and a bit of magic. Selena Wilson leads a simple life with her Uncle Liam. She has unusual physical strength, and her eyes glow when she lets her emotions take over. She has questions about who she is and why she has these powers. However, her uncle is reticent to tell her anything, including who her parents were. Liam teaches her to channel her emotions into positive things by training her in combat and leading a frugal, monk-like life. Through that, she’s developed strong morals, but even as an adult, Selena, more than anything else, just wants to be normal. However, her life starts to spiral when she nearly gets mugged by two strange men.
Selena as the protagonist is wildly interesting. This is more of a character study than anything else; the book puts Selena in different situations that showcase varying aspects of her personality and how she interacts with other characters based on her upbringing. She’s always holding back because of what she can do, and there is a tension that builds and builds until it finally erupts in an incredibly cathartic way.
The mystery of Selena’s true identity permeated the entire book and was interesting enough to keep me hooked. She learns multiple lessons through her character arc, but there is a supporting cast that is almost as interesting. Selena’s best friend, Melanie, is very understanding and never forces her into uncomfortable situations. There are multiple love interests, and the romance in this book is one of the best things about it. I always welcome any positive addition to the LGBT community.
I do have some problems with this book, however. This story contains a significant number of clichéd tropes. I can’t start to list them all because I don’t want to spoil the story, but I can say that they were very predictable at times. However, I’m inclined to believe the story is a bit self-aware because, as I mentioned, this is more character-focused than plot-focused. I also found the dialogue a bit robotic; a lot of characters sounded similar, with the exception of Selena herself and a couple of others. Lastly, this was a contemporary fantasy book, but it kept trying to give me signals that it was something else, which set false expectations that were never fulfilled. For those reasons, I have to give this book 3 out of 4 stars.
I really enjoyed the novel as a whole, but I couldn’t completely ignore the problems I mentioned. That being said, I recommend this to lovers of contemporary fantasy. Romance readers will find something in this as well. This is an adult book, so kids might want to stay away. With the ending this had, I would love to pick up the next book in the series.
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