NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A passionate and powerful romance featuring a transgender man and an ex-Orthodox woman who find each other through their devotion to art, and fall in love despite all odds, from bestselling author Victoria Lee
“A sensual love story about art and passion . . . emotional and heart-aching.”—Ashley Poston, New York Times bestselling author of The Dead Romantics
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: PopSugar, She Reads, Publishers Weekly
Elisheva Cohen has just returned to New York after almost a decade away. The wounds of her past haven’t fully healed, but four years of sobriety and a scholarship to study photography with art legend Wyatt Cole are signs of good things to come, right? They could be, as long as Ely resists self-sabotage. She’s lucky enough to hit it off with a handsome himbo her first night out in the city. But the morning after their mind-blowing hookup, reality comes knocking. When Wyatt Cole walks into the classroom, Ely realizes the man she just spent the night with, the man whose name she couldn’t hear over the loud club music, is her teacher.
Everyone in the art world is obsessed with Wyatt Cole. He’s immensely talented and his notoriously reclusive personal life makes him even more compelling. But behind closed doors, Wyatt’s past is a painful memory. After coming out as transgender, Wyatt was dishonorably discharged from the military and disowned by his family. Since these traumatic experiences, Wyatt has worked hard for his sobriety and his flourishing art career. He can’t risk it all for Ely, no matter how attracted to her he is or how bad he feels about insisting she drop his class in exchange for a strictly professional mentorship. Wyatt can help with her capstone photography project, but he cannot, under any circumstances, fall in love with her in the process.
Through the lens of her camera, Ely must confront the reason she left New York in the first place: the Orthodox community that raised her, then shunned her because of her substance abuse. Along the way, Wyatt’s walls begin to break down, and each artist fights for what’s right in front of them—a person who sees them for all that they are and a love that could mean more than they ever imagined possible.
Lee (A Lesson in Vengeance) spins a profoundly emotional love story that takes its themes of addiction, faith, and art as seriously as it does its romantic arc. Bisexual artist Elisheva Cohen, four years sober, is optimistic about her return to New York City, the site of some young adult trauma, to study with the illustrious trans photographer Wyatt Cole, but when her amazing hookup the night before school starts turns out to be the professor himself, things get complicated. ("This is literally TV-drama behavior, without the benefits," muses the delightfully genre savvy Ely. "I'm pretty sure this is the plot of the first episode of Grey's Anatomy.") Their lingering attraction is disallowed but undeniable—and it's indelibly entangled with artistic mentorship and mutual support around trauma and recovery. Ely's capstone project exploring Jewish spiritual expression leaves her vulnerable as she engages with the abandoned rituals of her youth; meanwhile, an opportunity for Wyatt to reconnect with estranged family leaves him in need of an understanding confidant. As the pair faces these individual struggles, they learn to rely on each other. The hot and satisfying sex scenes feel simultaneously mainstream and wonderfully queer, grounded by the protagonists' genuine connection. Exploring the courage required to take a chance on another person, this resonant romance cuts deep.