I wish I could take it back. I rue the day I purchased Ali Vali’s Blue Skies for Cerulean Lambda. While I thought it would be the gay Top Gun story she’d always dreamed of, what I discovered was instead the most boring lesbian romance ever. After finishing it, Cerulean Lambda made me read it because, like Ali Vali, she hates me and wants me to suffer. This is the only reason I can put forward for this novel’s existence. Why else would you promise a super-cool novel about TOP GUN PILOTS who do things like FIGHT IN THE AIR and then devote only a handful of pages to what should be the novel’s climax?
Its cover describes it as a “romantic adventure.” Let’s unpack that a bit, and start with the romance. Ahem. Berkley Levine, a Top Gun instructor also known by her callsign Cletus, and Aidan Sullivan, a giant asshole, used to be together. But then Aidan let her dreams of career advancement get in the way of their relationship, and she decided to forego the picket fence, dog, and everlasting love for being a badass instead, as well as the first woman to captain a Navy carrier ever. Women, especially lesbians, can never have it all. Lesson learned.
It’s a few years later when Aidan comes knocking on Cletus’s door. She’s just gotten that big promotion but it can’t fill the Cletus-sized hole in her heart. Ostensibly, she’s here to ask Cletus to fly a mission for the Navy, but makes it very clear that her true purpose is to get Cletus back. Aidan, who has “decided on her course and doesn’t want to wait,” doesn’t seem to understand Cletus’s initial reservations about letting Aidan into her pants and her heart (in that order). It is a mere few pages after their decidedly unsexy reunion, however, that Cletus decides to let bygones be bygones: she introduces Aidan to her parents and listens to Aidan happily fantasize about their future together. She even gets on board with the picket fence, dog, and kids, and has never been more eager to give up everything she’s worked for if she can have the love of a good (enough) woman in exchange. Cletus and Aidan have a little government business to take care of first, though.
And here’s where the adventure begins. And then abruptly ends. In a matter of pages. Most of the “adventure” is devoted to pre-mission sex shenanigans and tearful farewells, and post-mission sex shenanigans and tearful reunions. And this only counts as an adventure if you think, as I suspect Ali Vali does, that the real adventure is what happens when two lonely hearts connect across a vast cosmic space and learn to beat as one. This is a regrettable mistake; the book would have been much more enjoyable had I felt like their respective careers mattered in some substantial way, rather than functioning as easily discarded plot devices.
I might have been more inclined to forgive the lack of adventure if I felt the romance were more compelling instead of the most terrible idea ever. If Cletus / Berkley were a friend of mine, and you know, were interesting at all, I would want to sit her down and process the shit out of Aidan’s return with her. And we would eventually conclude (when I say “we” I mean that I would ask leading questions, but you know, she’d figure it out) that only an insane person or someone who is desperately needy would willingly board that crazy relationship train again with Aidan. Because really.
I was initially going to start this review by talking about how terrible the sex scenes are, but I don’t even really care anymore. I mean, some of the language is almost deliberately a turn-off (“she painted Berkley’s jeans with the evidence of her desire”), but there are bigger problems here. Like the fact that there’s a sequel. I might not even read it, because it took me for-fucking-ever to finish this book, and that’s saying something.Rating: Like half a star. For good behavior.