When I first heard that Nia Forrester was working on Lifted and it would be the third book in the Secret series, I was ready to jump for joy–especially when I heard that this time the focus would be on Tessa, Trey’s younger, a tad bit irresponsible sister. Tessa was one of my favorite characters from Secret and the Art of Endings and I always wanted to know more about her.
This time, we find Tessa in San Francisco, avoiding the friends she’d moved there with since she has lost interest in the bakery they’d started together. Tessa’s living in a crappy apartment, waiting bar at a gay country-western bar called the Hood Range and involved with a woman called Lisa who refuses to come out of the closet. It’s fairly obvious that Tessa is dissatisfied in love and in life. With each of her therapy sessions with Dr. Young, we get a sense of a young woman who is frustrated, resentful and (though she would never admit it) afraid. She’s considering ending her relationship with Lisa because she knows they are destined to fail and whatever attraction she had for Lisa has faded with each time Tessa is forced to pretend she is just a friend. And Tessa doesn’t really see them as being in a relationship–they are just hooking up, with no real strings attached.
Enter Lisa’s younger, a tad bit irresponsible brother, Ty. While Tessa is initially forced to pretend she and Lisa are “just friends”, she finds herself drawn to Ty. There is definite chemistry between them–which Tessa tries to deny at first. She has so thoroughly defined who she is by the fact that she has always been attracted to women that what she feels for Ty unsettles her. And his being Lisa’s brother doesn’t really help things. Soon Tessa and Ty are hanging out, hiding their friendship from Lisa, spending most nights together and growing more and more attached to one another without realizing it. Only Dr. Young and Anzu, Tess’s closest friend, seem to be able to see that what’s going on between Tessa and Ty is more than just friendship and sooner or later Tessa will have to face the music.
I really loved how Nia handled the most complicated question in Lifted: how do we define ourselves? Are we defined simply by who we usually have sex with, or by who we love? This is an issue that Tessa struggles with throughout Lifted and it rings true without ever making the reader feel like Tessa is someone who should not be taken seriously. Tessa and Ty’s relationship and how it grows makes for an interesting story. And how those around them react to it, plus the secrets both keep and how they are revealed….it’s a compelling novel. You’ll find it difficult to put down.
Kudos to Nia for taking on such a charged topic and creating such a beautiful love story. The demanding reader in me wants to read more about Ty and Tessa, but the ending was so satisfying. Sometimes we don’t need to know everything. Imagining the continuation of the adventure is equally fulfilling.