People tend to think the more familiar you are with an author the more you tend to just enjoy whatever they do – and in a way, that the enjoyment translates to lower expectations. In reality, the opposite is actually true. The more familiar you are with an author, the higher the expectations actually are.
To the Skyline, Gissane Sophia’s contemporary romance debut didn’t just meet my expectations for her – it surpassed expectations I didn’t even know I had. The book, described as a “second chance autumn love story,” feels like a comforting blanket on that first fall afternoon, a cup of hot tea right when it finally gets cold outside. It’s soft when it needs to be, introspective in all the best ways, and perfectly on point dialogue-wise when the characters require their feelings spoken out loud, all very, very difficult things.
Ben and Violet, the protagonists, are well-realized, relatable people with issues that feel “oh this could happen to me” instead of “yeah, this is a very book problem,” which helps the entire plot of To the Skyline move along in a realistic manner. To make it even better, the book falls into the trap of needing to create contrived obstacles to drum up interest from readers – or to make them realize they care about each other. Instead, the author respects her characters and her readers enough to let them get to where they need to go organically, and the book is better for it.
So is the writing. Books that offer you a guiding hand through a story that flows organically are always so much better than ones that feel like they’re browbeating you into believing that what they’re trying to tell you is absolutely the way things need to be. We can and should be taking things on faith, it’s just that sometimes the author isn’t putting us in a position to believe. Gissane Sophia does, even if this is a book that starts with two characters in a place where things don’t work – can’t work.
I’m not, or at least, have not historically been a fan of second-chance romance. More couples like Ben and Violet might be what I need to change my tune. Because there is something to be said for “right person, wrong time,” particularly if the right time is written well. In my experience, though, there’s a lot of unresolved trauma at the wrong time that authors don’t usually take the time to unpack in a way that actually feels cathartic.
Gissane Sophia does, and perhaps that’s why it feels like Ben and Violet’s journey is a worthwhile investment – because there actually is one that I, as a reader, get to be part of. That’s the whole point of reading a book, or at least, that’s the whole point of reading a romance. I don’t want to skip to the good part, or at least, for me, the good part is getting to go on this journey of getting to know each other, learning how to open up, how to deal with their own issues and how to find the best way forward together with the characters.
And if, by the end of the book, I want to leave Ben and Violet at a place where I don’t want to know anything else that happens to them because I just want peace and happiness for them – and at the same time, would read a 14-chapter fanfic about their domestic adventures, well, that’s the perfect happy medium, isn’t it?
In conclusion, To the Skyline is the kind of book that feels like what the contemporary romance genre is all about – or at least, what the genre wants to be about. It’s well-written, features great characters with distinct personalities that are easy to like, a relationship that develops effortlessly and clicks right away, and the kind of romance vibes that make you want to close the book for a second and go aww. What else can we ask for?
To the Skyline is available now, wherever books are sold.