Beyond Any Experience by Anne E. Terpstra _ Book Review

Amazon | Goodreads

Olivia Northman’s world shattered the day she lost her wife to a drunk driver. Three years later, she still struggles with grief and the demands of being a single parent to their autistic son, Ben. After her first attempt at a new relationship crumbles, she retreats to the simple, the predictable. It’s what’s best for her son, and her heart.
Ellie Vasquez isn’t simple or predictable. In fact, she’s charmingly impulsive, as well as gregarious, confident, and attracted to Olivia, which she reveals in an unguarded moment. Olivia doesn’t know what’s more surprising—Ellie’s interest, or her own—but a quiet conversation over drinks soon spins into something more. As Olivia’s caution gives way to hope, she sees another chance at love, both for her, and for Ben, who takes to Ellie with a tender openness. Ellie is fearless about love in a way that makes Olivia want to be brave, but the deeper their passion, the closer she gets to drowning—in grief, in fear, in guilt. To have a future with Ellie, Olivia must come to terms with her past. If she can’t, she risks losing the second love of her life.
Anne E. Terpstra’s BEYOND ANY EXPERIENCE is an intimate, emotional debut that explores grief, parenting, neurodiversity, and the vulnerability of love after loss.

Tags: #ownvoices, age gap, Autism, children, contemporary, family drama, grieving, hurt-comfort, interracial/intercultural, lesbian, LGBTQ+ literary fiction, lit/genre fiction, mothers and children fiction, neurodiversity, occupational therapist, over 40, parenting, PTSD, romance, tear-jerker, women’s domestic life fiction, women’s fiction
Word Count: 92,300
Sex Content: Explicit
Cover Artist: Jaycee DeLorenzo
Cover Photo by Anne E. Terpstra

[I received a digital copy from PrideBookTours for an honest review]

Beyond Any Experience
 by Anne E. Terpstra is a beautiful and moving wlw contemporary romance.

“I think everything of you. Which is why I want to try.”

Olivia’s life forever changed when she lost her wife in an accident. She now raises their autistic son on her own. The first time she tries dating, it turns her off attempting another relationship. She doesn’t expect the connection she forms with Ellie, a new OT at her son’s therapy clinic. Ellie is younger than her and wears her heart on her sleeve, while Olivia guards hers tight. As they slowly build their relationship and both Ellie and Olivia’s son Ben start forming attachments, moving on suddenly becomes real to Olivia. She realizes maybe she’s not quite ready to move on from her late wife and buckles under the weight of her grief. Ellie proves that she’s all in by being there when Olivia needs her the most.

“Hard, easy, it doesn’t matter as long as I have you.” Ellie drew her into a strong hug, and she returned it with fierce intensity. “You have me.”

I don’t even know where to start with this book, because I honestly loved every moment of it. I’ll start with the characters. Olivia is a widowed single mother raising a preteen autistic son. She puts everything into raising her son and making him the best life possible. So much so that she buries her own struggles and grief, which she eventually has to face. She’s fiercely protective, real and relatable to me. Ellie is a bright character, who is caring, patient and loves hard. I loved her close relationship with her abuela and her brother, every time they interacted it brought a smile to my face. Then we have Ben, who is the sweetest and reminded me so much of my own son. The bond he forms with Ellie is completely heartwarming.

“I think you’re incredible. I just want to be enough for you. I want to make you happy.”

The book does a good job balancing Olivia’s life as a single parent to a preteen child with autism with her starting a new relationship. It focuses primarily on the relationship romance, but doesn’t ignore the fact that she has a son. And the further they get in their relationship, the more he becomes a part of the story. The first half of the book focus’ on Olivia and Ellie, one-on-one building and exploring their connection. Ben’s not on page much at first,, but when they take that next step in their relationship there are more scenes with the three of them all interacting. The intimate scenes are lovely, beautiful, steamy and passionate. I love that they both have flaws and that they both have their own insecurities, and they each take the time to highlight how beautiful they find each other and make each other feel sexy. There is a whole lot of intimate scenes in this one, since at one point Olivia uses sex to avoid talking about her feelings. Holy moly they are hot , probably the best written wlw scenes I’ve come ever read, with toys, vibrators, and anal play 🔥🔥

“There isn’t a part of you I’d change.” A tongue laved her arch. “There isn’t a piece of you that doesn’t take my breath away .” Teeth nipped her heel. “And I will prove it by licking every square inch of your luscious skin.”

The autism representation was wonderfully done. I’m a mom to a 12-year-old on the autism spectrum and while Olivia’s son is much more verbal than mine , I go through so many of the same struggles she faces in the book every day. Many books tend to do extremes when it comes to portraying autism in kids, but this one hits it right on the hed , at least compared to my experience. Everything from the meltdowns due to routine changes and over stimulation felt like I was reading about my own son. I couldn’t imagine doing it on my own, which left me in awe of Olivia’s character.

Ellie’s lips curled into a smile she hadn’t seen before, soft and tender, the kind that whispered secrets across pillows and shimmered beneath a fluttering sheet.

Overall, Beyond Any Experience by Anne E. Terpstra worked for me in every single way. A wlw romance with a second chance at love for a single parent with hurt-comfort, an age gap, high steam, grief, love, meet-the-family, porch dates, hot baths, and a fought for happy ending.

—Written by Amanda—

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s