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Learning Curves #1

Learning Curves

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Elena Mendez has always been career-first; with only two semesters of law school to go, her dream of working as a family lawyer for children is finally within reach. She can't afford distractions. She doesn't have time for love.

And she has no idea how much her life will change, the day she lends her notes to Cora McLaughlin.

A freelance writer and MBA student, Cora is just as career-driven as Elena. But over weeks in the library together, they discover that as strong as they are apart, they're stronger together. Through snowstorms and stolen moments, through loneliness and companionship, the two learn they can weather anything as long as they have each other--even a surprise visit from Elena's family.

From solitude to sweetness, there's nothing like falling in love. College may be strict...but when it comes to love, Cora and Elena are ahead of the learning curve.

93 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 28, 2018

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About the author

Ceillie Simkiss

8 books89 followers

Ceillie Simkiss is an author from southern Virginia. She started writing fiction as an escape from her day job as a small town journalist, and has been at it ever since, with the support of her partner, her dog and her cats.

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5 stars
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23 (8%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 106 reviews
Profile Image for Nicola.
1,393 reviews241 followers
August 14, 2018
3.5 Stars.

Learning Curves is only my second ever F/F read so I’m definitely not what I’d class a seasoned reader, but this year I did say I wanted to expand the reading horizon and this was a short and sweet addition.

description Y’all really are just adorable together.”

Centralising on lesbian, Elena from Puerto Rico and Cora, an asexual panromantic, Ceillie Simpkiss brings us a low-drama, cute story as these young women grow closer, realising that together they have something special.

description We’ll figure out the rest together.”

Real issues and experiences are raised and addressed, and whilst I have to be honest in that the shorter length did bring that slight feeling of over-before-it’s-really-started, it doesn’t detract from the fact that Simkiss has a lovely writing voice and has created endearing characters with a HFN ending fitting of Cora, Elena and their short journey.

Copy received courtesy of of the author for an honest and unbiased opinion.

Profile Image for Natasha.
492 reviews377 followers
August 10, 2018
Review on my blogTwitterInstagram

Rep: Fat Puerto Rican lesbian main character, asexual panromantic main character with ADHD, f/f romance 

ARC provided by author in exchange for a free and honest review

Learning Curves was a really sweet and quick novella. It follows to women meeting in grad school and forming a romance. They meet after one asks for notes in class. They quickly form a friendship afterward, and the book is pretty much fluff. 

I really enjoyed this novella. It was the right amount of sweet and I loved both Cora and Elena. Nothing felt rushed, and their romance felt like a really nice and natural growth. 

Elena is Puerto Rican which plays a role in the story, mostly through family and food. She's a lesbian and I loved how supportive her family was. Especially when Cora was interested. 

Cora is asexual and panromantic. What I liked that was different to other books I've read with an ace character was that the li wasn't ignorant. Elena knows what it means and asks if she was 'sex repulsed', which she wasn't, she's sex indifferent. But sex isn't made into a conflict, and I was really happy to see that. Elena seems to not care at all, she just likes Cora and that's enough. 

If you want a really sweet and fluffy f/f romance, I highly recommend this one! It was nice, quick, and really fun to read.
Profile Image for Claudie Arseneault.
Author 16 books388 followers
August 3, 2018
LEARNING CURVES is a super sweet, low-drama romance between a puerto rican lesbian and a panromantic asexual girl that is 100% liable to make you hungry. I kinda wish it was a little longer, or perhaps more introspective in its characterization, because I was barely starting to know these girls and root for them before it was over. I also wish the careers mentioned in the blurb came up as more than conversation bits--I think I was expecting them to be part of the obstacles to the relationship. But yeah, this is a fun read, check it out.
Profile Image for Emma.
892 reviews872 followers
May 4, 2020
This was a free and quick read that was available on kindle unlimited and it was quite nice.
I really appreciated the representation that was included in this novella. Cora is panromatic asexual and has ADHD and Elena is a lesbian young woman and she's also Puerto-Rican. I really enjoyed Elena's family's Christmas party, it was very cute. Also, I loved the fact that Elena likes to cook since it's one of my passions too.
Profile Image for Lexxi Kitty.
1,948 reviews422 followers
July 14, 2020
Super quick short story involving two graduate students who begin dating. One a chubby latina lesbian, other short thinner Methodist asexual.

Family and Christmas play largish role in story.

Story mostly from Elena's POV, though Cora's POV appears briefly, I believe twice.

Story somewhat ended abruptly and I wasn't immediately sure if next chapter, titled 'sneak peak', was next chapter in book or first chapter in next book.

Rating: 3.45

July 14 2020
Profile Image for Sara.
369 reviews315 followers
September 8, 2020
Cute novella, festive themed so probably wasn't the best time of year to read it!
Profile Image for MaxDisaster.
465 reviews34 followers
March 20, 2022
2,5 stars
No matter what, whenever I try to think about a way to describe this story, I only come up with "meh". So yeah, that's my review.
Either I'm reading all the wrong books lately or I'm in some sort of slump, because the last few books I've read weren't nearly as good as I hoped for and I'm starting to get annoyed.
Profile Image for Kaa.
558 reviews51 followers
December 23, 2018
Hmm. Honestly, the last chapter saved this story for me - super cute and sweet, probably the best written part, and the main characters finally started to have distinct personality and voice. Also, this chapter had the strongest emotional tension and story arc - I think it could have made the basis for a fantastic short story.

A couple other positives for the novella as a whole: the depiction of anxiety felt very real, which is always something I appreciate seeing done well, and there were lots of kernels of potentially interesting things going on in the lives of both main characters.

However, I struggled a bit with this book in the first four chapters. Despite all the interesting elements, there was never a strong hook to really engage my attention. I felt like it needed a stronger central plot or conflict, and should have either been longer and more fleshed out or this length but more focused. There were too many things going on in too few pages, and it felt like a lot of the important development of the characters and the relationship was happening off-page. I also had a hard time because a lot of the dialogue and exposition felt clunky. The "voices" of two main characters (both in dialogue and internal narration) were very similar, so it was confusing when the POV abruptly switched, although as mentioned they did start to become more distinct toward the end.

I won a copy of this book in a promotional giveaway by the author.
September 9, 2018
I hope it becomes a trend for more authors to release short novellas with less drama and 100x more fluff. Learning Curves is a perfect read for those who are fans of Chelsea M. Cameron or Soft on Soft by Em Ali. 

A peer in Elena's class named Cora approaches her one day, asking her to trade notes since she has ADHD and it's difficult for her to concentrate in class. Elena offers to let Cora sit next to her in the class and they slowly develop a friendship filled with library visits and coffee dates. 

A disclaimer before you read the following paragraph: I am a plus sized woman myself and have a similar body type to the model on the cover. Also, this could be #ownvoices representation, but my main point is that it wasn't the positive representation that I was promised. I wouldn't exactly call this book fat positive. Yes, it has a fat main character and she experiences no fatphobia (which is praise enough in itself), but there isn't any body positivity. Every time Elena's weight is mentioned, the author refers to her as the "large girl" or mentions that her hips are too wide to fit in a chair. There are no instances of her being confident about her body type or no commentary on how fat girls can sometimes be insecure. Therefore, on a superficial level, this is commendable fat representation and can only be classified as that by the lack of fatphobia experienced by the main character. But, in my opinion, this does not equal fat positive. 

Regarding the other representation in this novella, I can't speak on it. Elena is Puerto Rican and discusses the dishes that her mother taught her to cook with Cora, while she also has a very large and loud family. Cora is asexual, panromantic, and has ADHD. I'm not sure if the neurodiversity is #ownvoices, but the author does state something similar to that in their Twitter bio (so take from that what you will). 

The writing has room for improvement. I wasn't a fan of the adjectives used to describe the characters since it was always "the taller/shorter/larger woman". The dialogue could also be stunted at times and felt like it was too forced. Other than that, it was simple to follow and easy to read. I flew through these 90 pages in no time, so I have no further complaints. 

Since this is pure fluff and no angst, the plot could drag at some times, but the novella was so short that I didn't really mind. 

Final verdict: a quick, easy to read novella with two cute, complex main characters. The writing and plot needed further development, otherwise, I would recommend it just for the good representation. 
Profile Image for Alex.
609 reviews65 followers
August 3, 2018
4.5 stars

pairing: Puerto Rican lesbian MC / white panromantic ace girl MC with ADHD

you might be surprised by my rating if you were following my updates, but I actually loved this! I did have a couple of issues but they were mostly unimportant/subjective things

also the ace rep was A+

(proper review to come)
Profile Image for Laura.
1,659 reviews46 followers
August 20, 2018
Just the soft fluff I needed

Learning Curves follows Elena and Cora as they meet in a College class and gradually get to know one another. Their relationship has a sweet slow burn quality to it and there’s very low angst involved. I love how Cora’s asexuality isn’t an issue or a point of conflict, but is still something discussed and looked at because there are people who feel sex is a necessary part of a romantic relationship. I also really liked the scene where they talk about how disclosing someone’s health/mental health shouldn’t be done without permission. The family scenes with Elena’s family were also especially sweet and soft~

Overall, this was the perfect soft little read. Low angst and high fluff - perfect for when you need a cozy read!
Profile Image for Laura (bbliophile).
791 reviews155 followers
August 25, 2018
I loved this! It was incredibly cute, had amazing cooking scenes and I loved the romance so, so much.
Profile Image for Nicole Field.
Author 18 books142 followers
September 14, 2018
Oh this one is so sweet, and I don't know that I will find a character who reminds me so much of myself as Cora does.

It's a short story, the first release from Ceillie Simkiss, and outlines the early relationship between Elena, a lesbian Puerto Rican law student, and Cora, an openly queer, asexual business student with ADHD, both studying at the same university.

When Cora first comes up to Elena, it's to ask her for notes from a class in which Cora hyperfocused by accident on one of the other students in the lecture who was sitting. From sharing notes to offering the seat next to Elena, the two girls start to get to know each other. They end up in libraries together, even when Cora doesn't have anything she needs to study. They end up out in the snow together. They end up trying to contain members of Elena's extended family.

And ever so slowly and gently, their friendship grows to include a romantic element.
Profile Image for Mariam.
899 reviews66 followers
August 22, 2018
This was so adorable ad handled anxiety and asexuality in relationships so WELL. I love it.
Profile Image for  Ariadne Oliver.
109 reviews16 followers
November 19, 2019
I expected to like this a lot more than I did. A fluffy F/F novella with diverse characters seemed like it would be just up my alley. Sadly this was stilted and the character never came alive for me, making it hard to get invested in their romance.
Profile Image for Madalyn (Novel Ink).
487 reviews828 followers
August 14, 2018
This review originally appeared on Novel Ink.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

*4.5 stars*

When I saw that my friend Ceillie was publishing her first novella– a cis ace f/lesbian f novella with #ownvoices ace, ADHD, and anxiety rep– I immediately jumped at the chance to review it. And, friends, it was exactly the sweet f/f story my heart needed!

Learning Curves follows two main characters whose friendship soon grows into a romance. Elena is a Puerto Rican law student, and Cora is working toward her MBA. The two meet in a business law class, and their romance develops over the course of library study sessions, cooking dates, and snow days. The romance felt so natural and simple. Cora identifies as panromantic and asexual, and though I am not ace and can’t speak personally to the representation, I thought it was really refreshing to see an allosexual love interest who just got it and who accepted Cora just as she is. There is a bit of discussion about gatekeeping in the queer community (especially as it pertains to bi, pan, ace, and aro folks), which is, unfortunately, an all-too relevant topic.

The mental health rep was also fantastic! I related hardcore to Elena’s anxiety and her aversion toward loud noises/loud people. Cora has ADHD, and there’s a scene in which Elena inadvertently mentions Cora’s ADHD to her family, which Cora is uncomfortable with– and, get this, the two have a conversation about it and Elena apologizes! Communication: what a concept. 🙂

While the novella primarily focuses on the girls’ relationship, we get glimpses into their lives and their families that I really loved. I enjoyed all of the delicious food and drink descriptions, too!

Great representation aside, this was such a well-written novella. Everything felt so real. The romance was SO sweet and so natural. Plus, I loved that this book dealt featured two protagonists in grad school, since that’s an age/life event we don’t see too often in literature. If you’re looking for more f/f, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.
Profile Image for L ✨.
357 reviews13 followers
February 3, 2019
buddy read with: Cande

cute romance between:

♥ Elena, a fat Puerto rican lesbian. She's a law student, loves her big family, knows how to cook. She has anxiety (#ownvoices)

♥ Cora, a white panromantic ace. She's an ADHD (#ownvoices), she always has a book with her, needs hug.

They're both cutie and the romance between them is THE BEST! A part of the plot is set during Christmas
Profile Image for Harker.
502 reviews51 followers
August 21, 2018
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Representation: Fat MC who is Puerto Rican Amercian/Lesbian, MC who is ADHD/Panromantic asexual

Learning Curves by Ceillie Simkiss is one of the few novels I've found that hits the right time period for me that balances between young adult and adult, the coveted New Adult genre that I wish was better marketed at large. This book is one of excellent quality and represents NA books well.

The story of graduate students Elena and Cora, as short as Learning Curves is considering it is a novella, there's a wealth of interest within ranging from the little details that enhanced the story line to the diversity and representation.

Learning Curves is a short, sweet story about two people meeting and getting to know each other over the course of a few months. While a longer story might have been jam packed with more scenes of excruciating detail, in this case the author knew what scenes of intimacy, both friendship and relationship, to highlight to make it heartwarming in the time that we had to spend with Elena and Cora, the main characters.

Elena is a fat, Puerto Rican American lesbian law student who meets Cora, an ADHD panromantic asexual business student, when Cora asks to borrow notes for a mutual class. Such an innocent, pass-you-by moment, but in the hands of Ceillie Simkiss it was the catalyst for something more.

There's real evidence of trust, the building block of a good relationship, wherein we see Elena and Cora sharing things about themselves that we learn along with them, such as Cora sharing her ADHD and her sexuality, plus her hesitation due to past difficulties within the LGBTQIA+ community.

"...it’s unfortunately common for ace, aro, bi and trans folks to be shut out of their own communities because we weren’t the “right” kind of queer,” Cora said sadly.

Elena also talks about what her experience being a lesbian in a religious family is like, what acceptance/"acceptance" is like from different generations. The pair of them talking through these facets of their identities felt wholly organic, something I loved, because it felt like being acknowledged instead of preached to. 

Their identities does not render them one dimensional characters, however. Elena and Cora are fully fledged individuals with more passions and facets. Elena, for instance, embraces her Puerto Rican roots and connects to it with her cooking, especially recipes like sancocho and coquito. Her relationship with her family is apparent, particularly with her mama, seen through phone calls and at the family Christmas party. We also learn about why she's a law student and not just that, but why she wants to be a family attorney.

Cora was a bookworm after my own heart. Her aesthetic aside (which I loved - that hair! a curly pompadour on top with the sides shaved), it was clear how much she truly loved reading, from investigating the admittedly meager bookshelf in Elena's apartment to bringing books of her own to the school's academic library:

“The library doesn’t have the right books,” she said with a pout. “This library only has academic stuff. I want fun - magic, dragons, queer people. The works!”

To sum up my experience with Learning Curves: I think it will make you laugh. It's a current book with little nods or name drops that those in the bookish community will be able to enjoy, but those that are just picking up a good book won't mind either. There will be some quiet, slow smile moments of contentment. There are a couple of instances where a slight hint of sadness creeps in, like the tiniest puncture in a balloon that begins to leak.

In the end, though, there is a warm glow and it makes everything worth it. I hope Ceillie Simkiss writes more books because her writing was so good that it made me want to immediately buy everything she's ever written or will write. That is a truly A+ book, when it elicits that reaction. Here's to the next one!

January 29, 2019
Check out my book blog for more book reviews and other bookish posts!

I received Learning Curves from the author, my friend, Ceillie Simkiss. Sometimes I like to read a soft and cute romance, so I definitely wanted to read this. I also had read a few earlier drafts of some of the scenes.

It’s #ownvoices.


Isn’t the cover gorgeous? I love the different blue tones on it.

It’s such an adorable and cute story. So adorable! So cute! I also love how it was slow-moving and how it shows their love for each other growing. It starts with them meeting each other, and gets more intense and connected with every chapter.

It was nice to read a story where the love interest was accepting of the other partner being sex indifferent and asexual.

I wish that there had been a bit more focus on their personalities, career choices, and hobbies, as the book was over too soon. It would have been fascinating to learn more about the two main characters. I felt sometimes that the time jumps between the scenes were too fast and there was so much time left unaccounted for.

One scene that I particularly liked was when Cora wrote her thoughts in a note. Sometimes, I am not able to say something the way I want to, but if I write it down, it comes out in the proper way. It was nice to see someone else doing that as well!

Another scene that I enjoyed was the mistletoe scene. I’ve always seen this tradition in books, but I’ve never done it. Definitely want to have some mistletoe in my house this year!

I love the ending. It was so nice and fluffy! Most romance books continue on to describing the relationship, whereas this was more of a description of what happened before the relationship.


A gorgeous and sweet novella. If you’d like to read something to lift up your mood, this can definitely do that.
Profile Image for usha✿—.
55 reviews7 followers
April 8, 2022
Time spent with you is a gift.

Awwee! This was like so adorable. Learning Curves is a zero angst, friends to lovers, unapologetically queer, adorable sweet romance. We have Cora, an ADHD asexual panromantic and lesbian Latina Elena (that has a good ring to it :) who have the same law class at uni. Elena helps the ADHD Cora with notes and they form a really cute friendship which eventually starts slipping into the girlfriend zone but neither of them is oblivious about this (in fact, each is secretly waiting for the other to ask them out).

Elena is a brown, fat, lesbian girl who has a huge family and loves cooking. She'd be me, except she's Puerto Rican. Cora is kinda quirky and just really really fun (and adorably protective of Elena!)

I would have given this an easy four stars but the dialogue and writing felt a bit stilted. Maybe it's that both the MCs and the side characters use A LoT of exclamation marks, but it just feels forced sometimes. I appreciate the rep and issues related to ADHD, asexuality, fatness and religious conflict were briefly mentioned but we're not really explored. At least it's zero angst, but in the end, the story does feel quite bland.
Profile Image for Helen.
261 reviews158 followers
September 24, 2018
This was a sweet little novella about a fat Latinx girl and an ace girl with ADHD, who fall in love. It was a nice, low-stakes, relaxing read where I didn't have to worry about anything bad happening. If you're interested in something really calm and gentle, I feel it would totally work well.

Understandably, as it is a novella, this book is very short. I did feel this might have been to its detriment slightly as I would have loved everything to feel just a little bit more fleshed out. Things seemed to happen very quickly, plot-wise, and then there's a whole lot of fluffy goodness in the middle where no real conflict happens. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but as a reader I do prefer books with a bit more of a steady plot, so it was a little bit of a slow read for me. Overall, I think it was a nice enough book, it just didn't entirely grab me.
Profile Image for Kay Solo.
Author 9 books61 followers
August 23, 2018
This was so cute! It was a warm and casual short read, but I loved the ace representation first and foremost, along with everything else. This spoke to me in a lot of ways. I waited for weeks for this to come out, and it did not disappoint.
Profile Image for leo ♡.
38 reviews1 follower
January 13, 2022
thought i'd give this a go bc i wanted some sapphic ace rep but romance novels aren't really my thing - this was also very dialogue heavy and (maybe i'm being cynical) a little cringey at times djfhdjdb
Profile Image for Chasia Lloyd.
699 reviews56 followers
August 20, 2018
Super adorable

This quick, light read is the perfect mood for anyone craving some f/f romance, especially one with ace rep. Plus look at that cover!!!!!
Profile Image for kory..
971 reviews107 followers
December 22, 2020
what a fucking disappointment

content/trigger warnings; mentions of foster care, mentions of religious queerphobia, mentions of acephobia, mentions of queerphobia within the community, arophobic language, kissing,

rep; elena (mc) is fat, puerto rican, and lesbian. cora (mc) is adhd, panromantic, and asexual.

i don't like anything about this.

there are a lot of conversations about unimportant things; i don't need to know elena's entire shopping list down to the size of every can, and i don't need to know their family traditions and quirks. this is a less than 100 page romance novella, those things aren't needed. develop the relationship instead, seeing as the characters don't initiate a romantic relationship until the literal end. i'm not being dramatic. they kiss and make plans to talk about what it means for them, and it's the literal last page that they decide to date. what the fuck. elena's family christmas party got more time devoted to it than the relationship, which is the entire fucking point of the story.

when i read romance, it's because i want the romance, the relationship. not a friendship building and the fumbling "do they like me" stuff for nearly the entire thing. i think this is why romance isn't often something i seek out. i think the majority of a romance should be the characters being together, not getting together. i don't want an established relationship, we all love the build up and getting together part, but i don't want the book to end when they get together. the beginning of a romantic relationship shouldn't be the end of a romance. that kind of format is in pretty much every romance i've read and it makes no sense to me.

the characters and their dialogue are cheesy. some people have criticized the puerto rican rep. others have had issues with the fat rep. i don't like how the ace rep is basically her worrying about if elena would reject her for being ace or not wanting sex because others have done so in the past. it's mentioned multiple times. idk, it just came off as like her being ace was this big conflict or hurdle. and the whole "is no sex a deal breaker" worry isn't inherently bad, but it doesn't need be part of all ace rep.

other: "yeah, it's unfortunately common for ace, aro, bi and trans folks to be shut out of their own communities because we weren't the 'right' kind of queer" gotta love the pan character not including pan in the list of identities that get treated like shit by their own community (also not specifically mentioning non-binary, either). also, what is the blurb? what does any of that have to do with the story?
Profile Image for Althea.
417 reviews135 followers
August 3, 2019
- I read this to break up the fantasy book that I'm reading and I was really in the mood for some f/f fluff!
- The characters were really cute and I enjoyed the representation! (mc is a fat latina lesbian; love interest is pan and ace)
- The writing style, however, was just...not good and that's why I rated it so low. The dialogue was clunky and some sentences were just so awkward to read (at one point a photographer is taking pictures of them and they describe her as being a black woman but then every other time she is referred to it's like the black woman did this, the black woman did that), all in all it just read like cheesy fanfic
- All in all a fun quick read but I wish they'd got together sooner!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 106 reviews

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