book cover of A Light On Altered Land By Becky BohanThe lovely romance between older women

It’s so rare to read a book featuring main characters over sixty, so in that respect, this is a delightful read. And with one notable exception, the entire book is a joyful relating of what happens when you don’t let your age, or society’s expectations of your age, stand in your way.

Ellie Belmont and Kathryn Kepler are both retired and have both recently suffered life-changing losses. For Ellie, the death of her partner still plays a significant role in her outlook on life. For Kathryn, the revelation of her husband’s infidelity and their subsequent divorce has left her reeling. When the two women meet by chance in a Minneapolis coffee shop, an unlikely friendship is born. As the depth of their feelings intensifies, they embark on a cross-country road trip to visit Ellie’s niece, who grows medicinal cannabis, which is one of the main reasons for the trip—a friend of Ellie’s needs this to help with her illness. There’s a risk, however, because they have to cross states where cannabis possession like this is illegal. The trip is life-changing, for both women, and the romance that builds will either survive it or wither before it’s even got started…

I enjoyed the vast majority of this book. Both the main characters were well written and completely authentic—Kathryn’s journey, in particular, was so sweet to read. I liked how the author paced their story, from friendship to romance, and that, because they were older and facing different challenges in their lives, there was no melodrama that added angst just for the sake of it.

The story around medicinal cannabis was interesting and certainly enabled the author to present a serious challenge to Ellie and Kathryn’s burgeoning romance. This was also handled with maturity and openness, which was refreshing to read.

The only element of the story that spoils things is the brief side trip, unnecessary in my opinion, into Ellie’s views on gender identity and trans men and women. I assume the author has strong opinions on this and wanted a space to vent them; there really wasn’t any other need for it in the story between Ellie and Kathryn. Be warned: many readers, like me, will find Ellie’s thoughts on the subject offensive. However, I was pleased to see that Ellie appeared to do some thinking about her position towards the very end of the book and her stance did soften a little.

That part aside, this was a very well written, well-edited, lovely romance that had a lot of spirituality at its heart. There were some good insights from both characters into what it means to get older and to still want to live a full life. The way they thrived with each other was a joy to read, and there were some wonderful moments of humour that definitely had the feel-good factor.