Book Review

Speechless

Speechless

  • Author: Lindsey Lanza
  • Genre: Romance
  • Publication Date: January 17, 2023
  • Publisher: Independently Published

Thank you to NetGalley and the author for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: anxiety, ableism, mention of death of a parent, grief, infertility, mention of cancer, mention of child abuse

When life’s off-key, go to Malibu.

Bestselling author Lucy Gold may write fairy tales for a living, but her own happily ever after is looking bleak. Seeking a fresh start after a sudden divorce on the eve of her thirtieth birthday, she decides to make a new life for herself and her service dog in Los Angeles. But when her living arrangements fall through just before takeoff, a handsome stranger offers to let her stay with him and his motley crew of musicians in Malibu. Her gallant hero? None other than Henry Turner, the award-winning composer whose music has held Lucy together while her life’s been crumbling apart.

Henry might be at the peak of his creative career, but his crippling anxiety throws his personal life completely out of tune. Yet all of that changes the longer Lucy stays with him and his housemates, swiftly becoming one of their own and offering Henry a glimpse of happiness he never thought possible. As their relationship deepens, Lucy’s attraction to Henry cannot be denied, but as she works through the aftermath of her divorce, she’s resigned to give up on love. Henry plays all the right notes and says all the right words. Will Lucy be able to hear them over her fear of the past repeating itself?

Speechless is a swoony saga about finding your people, overcoming your deepest insecurities, and choosing happiness no matter what life throws at you.

This book came to my attention when I was researching a post about books by Jewish authors featuring Jewish characters that are being released in 2023. Next thing I knew, I was on a requesting spree on NetGalley, and almost immediately got approved for this book. I was excited to read it for a few reasons—it features a Jewish character and involves a service dog, so I was immediately sold. 

I was even more pleased to discover that it’s hilarious. Like, laugh out loud funny. Not just a few chuckles, but I was cracking up in public while reading this. At least I happened to be in a place where everyone knew me and my quirks, so I didn’t really get many strange looks. I loved the use of humor, especially between all the characters. There’s also a fantastic use of the found family trope throughout the story. While Lucy starts out with basically no one in her life except one friend who isn’t there for her in any way at all, leading to the situation that starts the story, Henry has a stable group of supportive friends that he leans on, and who lean on him. They all live together, and this is the little family group that Lucy promptly finds herself immersed in. She quickly finds herself forming bonds with the men in the household, and developing very different relationships with each of them, but winning them over in her own unique way, and I loved watching it happen.

I think one of my favorite parts of the story is the way that invisible disability is portrayed throughout the story. Lucy has a service dog (who obviously stole the show in many scenes), and although service dogs are most often associated with seeing eye dogs, they can also be trained for a number of other purposes, like sensing seizures, or in the case of this situation, sensing pain and oncoming loss of consciousness. However, people with invisible disabilities are often challenged and discounted, much like Lucy herself is in this book. There’s one instance of ableism in the story, but it isn’t viewed as acceptable behavior even if it isn’t directly challenged. I loved how the author discusses how Lucy’s disability is linked to her self-concept and her view of the future she wants compared to the future she thinks she can have.

We also get to see things through Henry’s eyes, and his own struggles with severe anxiety which has led to social isolation. It led to him using music as a coping skill, which ultimately turned into a lucrative career for him, but he’s always had incredible difficulty socializing and forming connections with people. There’s something about Lucy that makes it easy for him to talk to her, and she’s naturally bubbly and outgoing where he isn’t, making them a perfect match, even if she doesn’t necessarily see it right away.

I enjoyed watching the two of them grow and change over the course of the story, not only leaning on each other, but the people around them for help and advice, demonstrating character development as individuals before coming together. Each of them makes the sweetest gestures towards the other, and as someone who also tends to show my feelings through actions rather than words, I could appreciate the efforts of each character. The matzah ball scene in particular got me laughing so hard, but it was adorable! 

Rowan, the service dog, was the most adorable show stealer in the history of show stealers. He’s a fluffy little Sheepdog, and I couldn’t help but adore him. He’s a service dog, but he’s also the sweetest and cuddliest pupper, and as the owner of a few little beastly dogs myself, I can appreciate the value of a good cuddle, especially when I’m not feeling so hot.

This was the most adorable and hilarious romance that I’ve read in a while, and while there was a little bit of spice, it was minimal, maybe 2 🌶 out of 5, but it was really well done. There were multiple emotional parts, and there was one scene towards the end that really got me tearing up to the point where I needed a tissue, but it was super sweet and I loved every second of it. This is one of those books that I highly recommend, and it’s a really impressive debut, so I’m definitely going to be watching out for more books by Lanza!

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