REVIEW: Loving Olivia – Geneva Vand

Loving Olivia - Geneva Vand

Genre: Sweet Romance, Light Post-Apocalyptic

LGBTQ+ Category: FF Lesbian

Reviewer: H.L.

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About The Book

Jane always thought she’d live a fairly ordinary life. Then the world broke and changed everything.

Jane never expected to be the one running the local unofficial orphanage. But while it wasn’t what she had planned, she wouldn’t trade it for anything. She loves her kids and the life they’ve all built. She’s happy just trying to stay under the radar while keeping them all fed and out of the clutches of the local militia.

Things are going well until her kids surprise her with an unconscious woman on the kitchen table, not even an hour after the militia was in the front yard looking for the same woman. Jane has no issue hiding someone from the militia as long as they aren’t an actual criminal, so together the household nurses Livy back to health. It doesn’t take long for Livy’s bright smile to start chipping away at Jane’s short but sturdy walls. Can Jane let down her guard enough for Livy to slip through? And what will Livy do if she does?

She wasn’t ready for her world to change again…but love has a mind of its own.

The Review

Jane, who runs a local orphanage on the outskirts of a town patrolled by the military years after the world was ravaged by climate catastrophes and political fracturing, has a simple life looking after her kids. The tense peace of her life and work is almost threatened when the local militia come by her home, searching for a woman – the same woman who is found and rescued by Jane’s orphans, and is now in hiding at the orphanage.

Jane has spent years looking after others first, and putting her personal needs on hold while coping with the new, difficult world they all live in. But as she and her family nurse the woman, Olivia, back to health, Jane finds herself falling for this kind, beautiful stranger, while ever aware that the local militia are hunting for her.

This isn’t a dark and gritty post-apocalypse tale. Rather, I’d describe the setting more as “soft”-pocalypse. We only briefly hear about the drastic climate disasters that destroyed the world as we know it, and are on the periphery of the new order. Technology seems to have reverted back to a mid-20th century level; the local militia expect and even coerce young women into being their sexual companions. Jane, running an orphanage a while away from the main town, is at an arm’s length from the glimpse of this darker world that Olivia has fled from.

While I would have loved to see more of the world and how it affects Jane, the orphanage, and the social dynamics of the town, that ultimately isn’t what the story is about. The story is focused squarely on Jane and her life running the orphanage, the love she has for the children she looks after and her fears for them leaving the nest, to go out into a dangerous world or even to get snapped up by the intimidating militia. She is a hardworking woman who has had neither time nor opportunity to pursue a romance, until Olivia unexpectedly enters her life.

The connection between Jane and Olivia is a mature one. It isn’t love at first sight. There is attraction, tenderness, and a sense that these two women are just allowing themselves to love and rely on each other, in a world where they have been forced to put their own needs on hold.

Overall, while short and perhaps not as in-depth in some areas such as worldbuilding or deeper character development as I’d hoped for, Loving Olivia was a lovely read. I did get confused about how many children Jane has in her orphanage, and at times found myself frustrated with their overly-cutesy banter, but they serve to show how compassionate and hardworking Jane is. The writing isn’t especially elegant, but it is light and easy. The stakes are low, and the danger and conflict, lingering at the edges of the story as Olivia hides from the local militia, is not the main plot or focus of the story, which allows the romance to shine.

Loving Olivia by Geneva Vand delivers on its promise of being a short, sweet and tender romance set in a post-apocalyptic near/alternative future. I recommend this book to readers who are looking for a light, easy lesbian story that focuses on characters and romance, with low stakes and background worldbuilding.

The Reviewer

H. L. is a Australian writer of LGBT+ fiction. She holds a Master of Arts in International Relations (2015) and a Bachelor of Media in Communications and Journalism (2012), both from the University of New South Wales.

She is a lesbian of Jewish and of Middle Eastern (Egyptian) heritage and is an #OwnVoices writer. She has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. She is the author of M/M fantasy romance novels Heart Of Dust and Soul Of Ash, Books 1 & 2 of the Death’s Embrace series.

She has had two speculative short stories published: “The Collector” in the 2014 Future Times Award Collection A Tick Tock Heart, and “Entente” in the 2020 Twisted Stories Award Collection Just Alice.  

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