Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Kim Hartfield’s Flipcup, one of the first FF romances in the Vino & Veritas world, brings us the story of Chelsea, the young woman spurned by Alec in Sarina Bowen’s Speakeasy. This book picks up after the events of that book where we find a Chelsea who has become disillusioned with her one-night stand, easy hook-ups. After a night of drinking and forgettable easy $ex, Chelsea has decided to swear off men for a year so that she can find a better version of herself. As the delivery person for a beer distributor, Chelsea meets Tara, an employee of Vino & Veritas. From their meeting, Tara flirts shamelessly with Chelsea even though she knows that Chelsea is straight. Tara does this as protection; she has never been with a woman, and the idea of it is frightening as it calls for a level of vulnerability and intimacy that she feels ill-prepared for. Therefore, flirting with the unattainable provides her with no-strings-attached fun. The situation becomes complicated when Chelsea starts to become enamored with Tara and her flirting. Thinking she wants to “experiment” to explore her “bi-curious” feelings, Chelsea kisses Tara one night…and then it all falls apart before it becomes something more. Is it possible for Tara to want to explore more? Even more, is Chelsea really straight or is her sexuality more fluid?
First of all, I love that the Vino & Veritas series is offering a variety of LGBTQ titles. Flipcup is one of the first two FF romances under this series, and quite honestly, it’s my first as a reader. I tend to be an equal opportunity reader, so I was excited about this read. Sadly, though, it is my least favorite V&V title thus far. Most of that has to do with the characterization of Chelsea and the lack of emotional depth in the rendering of her story. For lack of a better explanation, Chelsea is all stereotypical sorority girl: a bit self-absorbed with a gaggle of friends who spend their time playing drinking games. In fact, Chelsea decides that she wants to sell a drinking game later in the story. The title is both an homage to the drinking game as it plays an important part in Chelsea’s aspirations, but it’s also a nod to Chelsea’s flip in perception about her $exuality. Honestly, it is there where I thought Flipcup was underwhelming. By the end of the book, you will not really believe Chelsea’s love for Tara, at least that was my feeling.
For me, the best part of Flipcup is Hartfield’s Tara. She is the emotional gravity of this story, and Kim Hartfield throws the book at her: raised in foster care, insecure about intimacy, plus other surprises. I found myself moved by her portrayal, and honestly, I thought she was too good for Chelsea. They are definitely opposites who are attracted to each other, and I’m still surprised by Tara and Chelsea’s coupling. It is Tara who saved the book for me because I simply wanted more from this story. I wanted to feel more deeply about these two women, and I needed a greater emotional connection to their story. Instead, I was wildly disappointed in how Hartfield handled Chelsea’s sense of $exuality and her characterization.
In love and romance,