“When Katie Met Cassidy” Is the Queer Romance We Deserve

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to start this with the admission that for a few years now, I’ve completely avoided media with LGBTQ characters.

They kept dying, or losing their partner to heterosexuality, or getting a terrible disease, or any other terrible, no-good, very-bad endings you could think of, and my little heart couldn’t take it anymore.

So when I picked up Camille Perri’s When Katie Met Cassidy, I put it right back down again and thought hard. Did I want to get emotionally invested in characters who are like me through and through? Or should I maintain a healthy distance, where it’s safe?

I picked it up again. And I’m so glad I did.

We meet Katie, a femme, introduced-as-straight lawyer in New York City who just got dumped by her fiancé, and then immediately we get to watch Katie meet Cassidy, a decidedly not-straight and masculine-of-center lawyer in New York City. The story follows both Katie and Cassidy as they try to figure out why the other one makes them feel the way they do, and what, if anything, they want to do about it.

No one dies, no one falls ill, no one has any sort of identity-based misfortune happen to them. Knowing this going into the book made it so much easier to fly through; it took me all of a few hours to read.

The plot is traditionally rom-com, with twists, meet cutes, will they won’t they, and holy smokes JUST KISS ALREADY, and if that’s all you need from a book, go for it, it definitely works on that level. But underneath, if you’re queer and feel like tapping into bigger feelings, is the sense familiarity, of knowing these characters before Perri even fully introduces them.

There are the main characters who we get to know as the chapters alternate between their perspectives, and there are Cassidy’s lesbian friends who harangue and love each other in equal measure at their favorite dive bar. Anyone with chosen family will recognize this immediately, the sense of community and fun and adventure and potential out there for LGBTQ people that we rarely get to see represented in media.

Perri, whose first novel, The Assistants, met critical praise, said When Katie Met Cassidy is the book she’s been meaning to write her whole life, but just now figured she had the skills to do it.

“I wanted to write a queer story that I hadn’t read or seen before,” Perri said in an interview with Autostraddle. “I think this was the story I’ve probably spent 15 or 16 years trying to write in various different forms.”

Queer romance books exist, she said, but they can be hard to find or access, or they’re published by small and niche presses that, while creating beautiful books and stories, have a limited reach. Perri’s book, on the other hand, will be published far and wide by G.P. Putnam and Sons, a Penguin Group imprint.

“There is something to be said for the reach that popular culture and mainstream media has on society in terms of really pushing the needle,” Perri said. “We are in an interesting time; this movie Love, Simon out right now, it’s the first time in a really long time that a major studio has taken a chance on a romantic comedy anchored by a gay character. It has a wide release, and it’s reaching people beyond the queer community.”

It’s a heavy and important mission for a book that still manages to be light, fun, funny, and sexy. Perri was also sure not to put labels on any of the characters, letting them explore gender and sexuality without the pressure of having to define it. Alternating the chapters between Katie and Cassidy also allows straight readers the chance to see how it could go when you suddenly realize something about yourself that perhaps you’ve never previously considered.

“A queer reader and a straight reader could read this book differently,” Perri said.

It was also important to showcase the characters’ community, Perri said, because unless a person is LGBTQ, they don’t usually get to see the fun, strong, and entirely human side of the story given that the stories have historically focused on tragedy. Instead of a warning about what could happen if you are gay, this is a celebration of what awaits if you are.

Reading When Katie Met Cassidy felt like closing a wound left open by other queer/same-sex romances that came before it. It was like if Kissing Jessica Stein ended with the two women who fell in love throughout the movie stayed together, or if Piper Perabo didn’t jump from that schoolhouse roof in Lost and Delirious and instead went and found herself another nice gal.

It’s heartwarming, funny, and Perri writes snappy dialogue that could’ve come from any lesbian bar I’ve ever been to. It’s an important book for many reasons, and I hope it is just the first of many from Perri and in this genre.


When Katie Met Cassidy is available June 19!


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Molly Priddy is a writer and editor in Northwest Montana. Follow her on Twitter: @mollypriddy

Molly has written 39 articles for us.

17 Comments

  1. Ahhhhhhhh! I can’t tell you how long I’ve been hoping and waiting for a mainstream fun young-woman-in-the-city romcom novel featuring a romance between two women. I grew up on these stories but they were always about straight couples, and I’ve always felt some inner conflict engaging with them as a lesbian (in a ‘this is so fun but I can’t even *imagine* living in this world without being heterosexual’ sort of way). Thank you for posting about this, Molly, I’m super excited!

  2. “Instead of a warning about what could happen if you are gay, this is a celebration of what awaits if you are.”

    THIS.THIS THIS THIS. This is the queer story I want to read/watch!

  3. Ahh this is all I’ve ever wanted. As much as I love the many (actually happy!) queer YA romances that have come out recently, I want to see grown women living and loving in the city, full-on rom-com style! Very excited.

    • Yes! I love YA but it’s astonishing that whilst there are lots of fun light-hearted YA novels about LGBT characters, there are almost none (at least not big publications) featuring adult characters, and as fun as it is read those stories about teenagers, I’d like to be able to read some about characters my age!

  4. Not sure if this is old news to everyone else, but I just recently discovered The Lesbian Review. It’s a website that reviews LesFic (I also had no idea “LesFic” was a thing with a name.) Anyway, I’ve found some really good books through it. It lets you search by genre and leading ladies and all sorts of other things. They also have a newsletter where they give you promo codes to get the day’s featured LesFic book for like $0.99. (it totally sounds like I work for the site, but I swear I don’t! I’ve just been loving it lately.) https://www.thelesbianreview.com

  5. I’m excited to read this when it comes out! I also have a tendency to avoid stories about LGBTQ people, I just assume something bad will happen. I’m trying to get over this and read more queer fiction.

  6. I spent my summer reading specifically and almost exclusively lesbian romance novels with happy endings. Some recommendations that feature, of course, major drama and some OH MY GOD HOW OCULD YU NOT SEE THIS moments and some will-they-won’t-they but which ultimately have VERY HAPPY GORGEOUS ENDINGS (the order of this list indicates nothing but the order in which these books appeared on my Kindle):

    -All the Love Songs, by Nicole Pyland (fantastically awesome!! Has some heartwrenching parts but the rest is! just! wonderful! And it has so many positive things and I’m pretty sure some of the characters are based on real-life celebrities which makes it very fun to try to connect the character to the actual person and both main characters are great in so many ways. It’s like my third favorite book ever and if lesbian fluff is your thing, this book is for ya! just be prepared for the obstacles along the way)

    -Keeping Her secret, by Sarah Nicolas (this is a YA book but is still very cute and lovely)

    -A Marriage of Connivance, by Natasha West (this one is funny! like, hilariously funny!)

    -Something for the Weekend, also by Natasha West (I prefer this one to A Marriage of Connivance but both are good)(to quote its back cover: “A book reminiscent of One Day (‘One Gay’ if you will)…”. Only with a happy ending)

    -The Cruise, by Lise Gold (mixes two of my favorite things: wlw finding love and cruises!!!)
    -That Certain Something, by Clare Ashton (extremely funny but also super cute and lovely and sexy and WOW)

    -Heartbeat, by Everly James, and its novella prequel, Leap of Faith (imagine Grey’s Anatomy, onnly in book shape and EVEN gayer and EVEN sexier. Highly recommended if you like Grey’s Anatomy OR cuteness OR just generally very happy love stories)

    -Casting Lacey, by Elle Spencer (this is one of, if not my absolute, favorite books ever!!!! STRONGLY recommend but prepare for an amazingly wonderful rollercoaster of sexual tension and feelings and wonder. But honestly, if you like lesbian romance READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!! NO WORDS CAN EXPLAIN IT IT’S JUST SO GOOD!!!)

    -Style, by Chelsea M. Cameron (also a YA novel, but very awesome because it has no twists!! NO betrayals, no nothings!! Just two teenage girls who fall in love and embrace it and live life to the fullest while dating and letting everyone know about it!!! And it’s not a big deal that they’re two girls dating!! They just are!!! It’s great!!!)

    I hope someone finds this list useful and if you happen to read/have read any of these books, please let me know cause I’m dying to find someone to talk to about them!!!!

  7. … to be fair, Piper Perabo does get to meet a nice gal in London (I won’t watch GoT, because I value my fond fond fond memories of Lena Headey) and have cool not-quite-romcom but definitely romantic times with her and live happily ever after in “Imagine Me and You”.

    I haven’t really encountered that much negative writing about queer women of late,since I generally avoid “literary” works, which are pretty much nearly always misery-fests for everyone. There is a lot of dykey romance out there, although there isn’t that much that fills that middle ground of satisfying well-written read + no misery (I’m cool with plots that have tension in them, but I’d rather that was due to an external thing like hunting down a baddie or settling new worlds etc).

    Anyway, I’m glad this book doesn’t have awful cover art (I give it a solid C+), and I like the sound of characters on different sides of the masc/fem or b/f spectrum.

    But how well written was it? There is so so much les fic out there (yes, often from smaller presses), where the story might be cute, but the writing is often clunky or outright bad.

  8. I just finished it and it’s fantastic. As silly as it sounds, it nearly made me cry with joy because it made me feel so SEEN and understood. The writing is snappy and smart. It’s a fun beach read with queer characters that seem real. I want them to make this a movie so badly.

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