A Heartfelt Journey of Rediscovery and Embracing Authenticity

5 out of 5 stars

Katia Rose’s This Used To Be Easier takes readers on a poignant journey of self-discovery and long-lost love in the charming town of Chapel Creek. With a rich tapestry of emotions, relatable characters, and a skillful exploration of mental health struggles, Rose crafts a captivating story that resonates long after the final page.

The narrative unfolds through the eyes of Meg Doyle, a college graduate forced to return home unexpectedly after the funding for her program was suddenly cut. Rose deftly captures Meg’s struggle with shattered expectations as she finds herself back in her suffocating small town instead of following her dreams. As Meg navigates the complexities of her hometown, readers are presented with a powerful message: sometimes, what we’re searching for is right where we started.

One of the standout elements of This Used To Be Easier is the exploration of mental health through the character of Connie Shipley. Rose adeptly weaves Connie’s severe anxiety into the narrative, using it as a crutch that holds her back from venturing beyond the confines of her home (but not necessarily of her own doing). Rose’s sensitive approach allows readers to witness the impact of mental health struggles on individuals and their relationships and how it can be weaponized against someone, too. This nuanced portrayal serves as a reminder that overcoming personal obstacles is a process, one that requires understanding, patience, and support.

At its core, this story is about the transformative power of both coming home and leaving home to embrace authenticity. Meg’s journey highlights the importance of self-discovery and the courage to become one’s true self. Through her departure from Chapel Creek, Megan evolves into Meg, shedding expectations and embracing her identity. Similarly, Connie breaks free from the emotionally abusive grip of her parents, allowing her true self to shine. Rose masterfully interweaves these narratives, showcasing the significance of finding oneself amidst the familiar and the unfamiliar.

The “long lost love” and second chance romance tropes are delicately portrayed in This Used To Be Easier. The unresolved tension between Meg and Connie adds an irresistible layer of anticipation and longing to the story that starts the first time they run into each other. Rose expertly captures the emotions and complexities of reconnecting with a past love, offering a heartfelt and satisfying journey of rediscovering what was lost.

Sophie Daniels’s narration breathes life into the characters of Meg and Connie, elevating the story to new heights. Her ability to embody their distinct voices and emotions (especially the intense mental health ones) enhances the authenticity and relatability of their experiences. Daniels’s skillful narration adds depth and richness to the already captivating narrative, making it an experience that fans of the genre won’t want to miss.

Overall, This Used to Be Easier is one of those stories that will stick with me. I’ve been dealing with my own bouts of anxiety, and one of my parents hasn’t made it any easier, so I related to Connie. Stories like this will always stand out to me, but Rose has been able to tell stories that stick with me. Every time a new book of hers is released as an audiobook, it’s instantly in my TBR pile.

Book Description:

Currently Available with Kindle Unlimited (subject to change)

Meg Doyle did not intend to return home from college with a suitcase and nowhere else to go.

Ideally, she would have rolled up to her tiny home town in a limousine and jumped out wearing a designer tuxedo. She would have shaken a few hands, signed a few autographs, and maybe kissed a few girls before riding off into the sunset of her glorious post-grad future in set design.

Instead, she’s stuck spending the summer in her childhood bedroom, trawling the internet for job listings after a last minute internship cancellation in Europe.

It’s anything but triumphant. Her friends in the city won’t stop reminding her what she’s missing, her mom won’t stop researching lesbian slang terms to seem more “relatable,” and around every corner in the small town of Chapel Creek, there’s Connie Shipley.

The girl Meg used to know better than anyone in the world. The girl she spent countless nights huddled under the blankets with for sleepovers and movie marathons. The girl who leaned in and kissed her four summers before.

The girl who hasn’t spoken to her since.

. . . Which makes it very inconvenient that Meg’s heart still stops every single time she sees her.

This Used to be Easier by Katia Rose
Narrator: Sophie Daniels
Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
Published by Tantor Audio on May 23rd 2023
Genres: LesFic/Sapphic Fiction, Return to Hometown
Format: Audiobook
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Also by this author: Catch and Cradle, The Devil Wears Tartan
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