The Love That Dares by Rachel Smith and Barbara Vesey – Blog Tour Review

Title: The Love That Dares

Authors: Rachel Smith and Barbara Vesey

Genre: Nonfiction

Publisher: Octopus Books

Publication Date: 27th January 2022

Rating: 4/5



“What this charming, moving and fascinating collection proves is that the [letter] form itself – a scribbled note, a declaration of love, an outpouring of passion, a bitter word – has always been with us.” – Mark Gatiss

A good love letter can speak across centuries, and reassure us that the agony and the ecstasy one might feel today have been shared by lovers long gone. In The Love That Dares, queer love speaks its name through a wonderful selection of surviving letters between lovers and friends, confidants and companions. 

Alongside the more famous names coexist beautifully written letters by lesser-known lovers. Together, they weave a narrative of queer love through the centuries, through the romantic, often funny, and always poignant words of those who lived it.

Including letters written by:
John Cage
Audre Lorde
Benjamin Britten
Lorraine Hansberry
Walt Whitman
Vita Sackville-West
Radclyffe Hall
Allen Ginsberg


I love reading letters – I feel like there’s something so special about reading someone’s personal dialogue to a loved one. The Love That Dares is a beautiful collection of letters from members of the LGBTQ+ community going back centuries right up until 2021. Each letter is a fascinating window into history and into the struggles that LGBTQ+ people have often endured. These letters range massively in terms of who wrote them and why, we travel from Ancient Greece to modern times, but every single one gives the reader insight into the time and place it was written and into both the writer and the recipient. They provoke joy, hope, sadness, laughter and tears. This is the sort of book that is lovely to dip in and out of and is one I will definitely return to in the future. I think everyone who reads The Love That Dares will take something valuable away from it. A beautiful collection of human stories.


Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.

Buy the book:

Waterstones | Amazon | Blackwells

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