Tell Me Anything by Skye Kilaen
September 2, 2021, Self Published
The absolute care Skye Kilaen takes with both her characters and her readers is incredibly apparent and it’s a beautiful thing to feel so…safe when reading. There are extensive content warnings at the beginning of this, which I appreciate so much. Isabel starts the book in a very bad space emotionally when she comes home from a 10-day trip only to find that her boyfriend had moved out, and taken basically everything with him. On top of that, he’d left only a note essentially blackmailing her into paying the full amount of the rent he was leaving her with. The blackmail was threats of disclosing to her homophobic father that she is bisexual. The sense of terror and dread Isabel feels, on top of the confusion and sadness from all of this virtually drips from the pages.
Isabel has no time to grieve over any of this though because she is a freelance editor and had been on her ex’s insurance – at his insistence! – so the flurry of earning money and searching for jobs begins. Anyone who has ever been unemployed, been worried about their insurance, or just been living paycheck to paycheck should be able to relate to this. Isabel also has a pricey prescription she needs to help her sleep so that’s an extra worry – all of these add up, and I could relate so much to these anxieties she has. Derek enters her life when he helps her get home one night when she has too much to drink. This begins a relationship where he wants to take care of her and she’s resistant…to a point.
Derek is a successful bisexual businessman with a wonderful queer found family surrounding him. Isabel’s bisexuality is a relatively newfound discovery for her, and one that is a secret in her life. These two together really were delightful, their connection and chemistry just shined throughout everything. There was a push/pull throughout though where Isabel was dealing with extremely rough times, Derek wanted – and could – help her out, but she was resistant to accept that help. This was my only quibble with the book because to a point this made complete sense to me. When they first meet she has no groceries in her apartment, is working herself to death, and not sleeping. Her resistance to accepting help is understandable both in the story and character as everyone in her life has failed her up to this point. Why would she want to rely on anyone? But as life continues to beat her down and there’s a fire in her apartment complex I wanted to just talk some sense into her every time she says no to Derek’s help.
What I loved about this book is basically everything else. Derek’s extended family is the best and I loved seeing them accept Isabel into their fold and reach to try to help her figure out her sexuality more fully. I think this showed, really thoughtfully, a quiet look into how scary it can be for an adult woman to rethink their sexuality. Derek and Isabel’s relationship was built slowly and carefully, which I loved, and the way it was developed even while dealing with external difficulties was messy and difficult, but beautiful and realistic. Skye Kilean’s writing just works for me, I hope it works for you too!
Content Notes: homophobic/biphobic parents and ex-partners, blackmail, cheating (not MCs) Detailed list of content warnings at the beginning of the book & on the author’s website