Looking for a Sign

A Novel

Paperback

Ebook

Audiobook Download

June 11, 2024 | ISBN 9780593908006

Apple BooksGoogle Play StoreKobo

About the Book

“A sweet and spicy story about found family, taking chances on love, and getting through your Saturn return.”—Elissa Sussman, bestselling author of Funny You Should Ask

A newly single queer woman moves to New Orleans and sets off on a mission to find her most compatible match by going on a date with someone of each astrological sign in this rom-com from the Lambda Literary Award–nominated author of Queerly Beloved.

Reeling from a breakup with her long-term partner, Gray—an optimistic lesbian Aries—relocates to New Orleans for a new job. Gray wants to meet someone, settle down, and build the loving, accepting family she’s always wanted, but having been out of the dating scene for a decade, she has no idea where to start. After visiting an iconic astrologer, Gray and her best friend, Cherry, draw up a dramatic scheme: Gray will go on a date with someone of each zodiac sign to test their compatibility and get a jump start on creating the queer family of her dreams—all before her twenty-ninth birthday, when Saturn will usher in a major turning point in her life.

Gray’s got her hands full getting to know her new city, proving herself at her new job, wooing twelve new paramours—cue bathroom hookups, ghosts, getting ghosted, incredible macchiatos, and celesbians—and making some surprising discoveries about her needs and desires. Even when the dating challenge throws a few curveballs that make Gray question what she believes that she’s destined for, she’s determined to finish what she’s started while the planets are still on her side.
Read more
Close

Praise for Looking for a Sign

Looking For a Sign is the queer, New Orleans-based astrological romance you didn't know you needed in your life. . . . A sweet and spicy story about found family, taking chances on love, and getting through your Saturn return . . . There’s something for every sign in this delightful sophomore novel by Susie Dumond.”—Elissa Sussman, bestselling author of Funny You Should Ask
 
Looking for a Sign is a story of destiny and choices, and how our own journey in love and life often lies somewhere between the two. Romantic and tender, this book left me starry eyed.”—Ashley Herring Blake, author of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care
 
Looking for a Sign is perfect for anyone who’s ever had to brave the queer dating scene—and is ready to laugh about it. You will fall in love with Gray as she journeys through the highs and lows of searching for The One against the beautiful backdrop of New Orleans. Even if you don’t believe in astrology, this book will make you believe in love.”—TJ Alexander, author of Chef’s Kiss and Chef’s Choice

“[In her] triumphant sophomore outing . . . Dumond makes this premise sing and the unusual structure keeps the true love interest an exciting mystery as readers will catalogue Gray’s dates with anticipation. . . . Blending humor, tenderness, and a deep knowledge of astrology, this joyful queer romp will tickle anyone who believes that love is written in the stars.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Read more
Close
Close
Excerpt

Looking for a Sign

One

The moment Gray stepped out of her car into the gravelly mud pile that was supposedly her destination, she considered getting right back in, driving another hour back north to New Orleans, and forgetting this whole endeavor. She could probably gain just as much insight and comfort from the bottom of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s as from this ridiculous plan. She was sure she’d put the right address into her GPS, but now, surrounded only by trees and mosquitoes, this didn’t feel right. Not that she really knew what “right” felt like anymore after the past month. But then she remembered her best friend Cherry’s words that convinced her to give it a try: “If you really want to find your soulmate, if you really want your new life to begin, then you need wisdom beyond what traditional measures can provide.” She did want to find her soulmate. She did want to live her perfect life and create the family of her dreams. So shouldn’t she be willing to try something different, even if it was uncomfortable?

Determined, Gray pulled her boots from the muck with a loud squelch and navigated around a gnarled old oak tree, looking for something, anything, that could point her in the right direction. A row of citrus trees to her left wasn’t much help, nor the Spanish moss shifting in the wind overhead. The echo of what sounded like women’s chatter drew Gray’s attention to her right. As she trudged through the swampy ground toward the noise, she discovered a weathered barn and small house with peeling yellow paint. The source of the noise soon revealed itself to be not a group of gossiping ladies, but the residents of a wooden chicken coop. One of the birds marched straight up to Gray, made a curious clucking sound, and began pecking at her feet.

“Excuse me!” Gray stepped back from the speckled brown hen. “These boots are new!” And not so much meant for actual outdoor adventuring as a fashionable suggestion that Gray might be into such things. She had a tough, devil-­may-­care lesbian aesthetic to uphold, after all, although she hadn’t expected to find herself navigating actual mud and chicken poop when she put them on.

“Petunia, get over here, you rascal.” An older woman with a wild poof of blondish-­white hair appeared around the corner of the coop, a smaller white hen tucked under her arm. “Ignore her. She thinks she’s a guard dog,” she said to Gray.

The chicken made a rumbling noise that did sound almost like a dog’s growl, puffing up her feathers at Gray as if to make a point.

Gray took a step back from Petunia, still eyeing the chicken nervously. “Sorry to interrupt. I think I’m lost. Do you know if there’s a Madame Nouvelle Lune nearby?”

The woman wiped a hand against her worn denim overalls. “You found her. Please, call me Dori.”

Gray’s head tilted to the side. “You’re Madame . . .”

“In the flesh! You’re Gray, yeah? Let me get the ladies tucked in for the night and I’ll be right with you.”

Dori herded the loose chickens into the coop, talking to them along the way like they were old friends. Even though she spoke slowly, it took Gray an extra few seconds to process her words. Her accent was thicker than the humid bayou air. That’s why Gray almost missed it when Dori stopped talking to the birds and returned her attention to her appointment.

“I said, you coming this way or staying out here?” Dori yelled over her shoulder, already walking toward the yellow farmhouse. Gray followed her into a crowded kitchen that smelled strongly of onion, garlic, and Cajun spices. “Leave your shoes by the door and wash your hands over there,” Dori commanded as she kicked off her own boots.

Gray followed the instructions, knocking as much dirt as possible off her formerly shiny boots, then turned back to the old woman. “Is now, um, still a good time?”

“Good a time as any. Neptune is in retrograde, but we can work with that. You know how to devein shrimp?”

“I don’t think so.” Gray ran a hand along the buzzed hair on the left side of her head, flipping the longer dirty-­blond hair on top to the other side. “Is that like reading tea leaves or something?”

Dori threw her head back with a squeaking laugh. “Lord, no. I’m just trying to get dinner on the table. How about chopping okra? That’s easy as it gets.”

Within minutes, Dori and Gray were seated across from each other at the wooden kitchen table, Gray chopping okra on a faded old cutting board as Dori peeled and deveined a pile of shrimp.

“All right, let’s get started. Birth date, please.”

“Is this how you usually meet with clients?”

Dori looked up at Gray. “Expecting something else? Dark room, crystal balls, velvet curtains, incense?”

Gray looked sheepish.

The older woman returned to her shrimp. “Well, I used to have that right in the French Quarter. Then Katrina hit. That’s when I moved out here, where I got plenty of room to commune with the stars, and started moving my astrology business online, since most of my regulars moved outta Louisiana anyway. I only meet in person with special cases, and based on what your friend told me, you’re mighty special.” Dori popped the head off a shrimp, sending it rolling across the table. “So now, if you don’t mind us getting to business rather than talking about it, when’s your birthday?”

Gray sat up straighter. “April fourth.”

“I need down to the minute. Location too.”

“Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As for time . . .” Gray pulled out her phone to find the photo of her birth certificate she’d asked her brother to send her after she’d moved out of her parents’ home. Turned out having an image of that document was crucial after being disowned at the age of eighteen. She didn’t, however, understand its relevance in this situation. Once she found the photo, Gray zoomed in on the exact time and turned the screen to show Dori.

Dori wiped her fingers on a dish towel before pulling a pair of reading glasses from her pocket and poking at a tablet on her lap. “Ah. Okay, okay. Hmm. Well, good that you came when you did.”

“Sorry?”

“No need to apologize, dear. Saturn return affects us all, long as we’re lucky enough to live to see it.”

Gray froze, her phone halfway back to her pocket. “Saturn return?”

“That’s right. No wonder you’re all out of sorts.” Dori shifted the reading glasses into her tangle of white hair and resumed peeling shrimp. “See, Saturn is the planet of big life lessons. Its place in your chart is gonna have a lot to do with your sense of purpose, where you’re supposed to be, whatever the hell you’re on this Earth to do. Every twenty-­nine years, Saturn returns to the exact place in the sky where it was the day you were born. So round abouts the ages of twenty-­nine, fifty-­eight, and eighty-­seven, stars willing, you’re gonna experience some existential discomfort.”

“Existential discomfort,” Gray echoed. She’d been trying for months to put her finger on the pressure in her chest, the itchiness in her fingertips, the zings in her brain that all worked together to tell her something had to change. Dori’s description fit just right.

“Saturn wants to make sure you’re on the right track, and you’re due for a big old checkup right about now, turning twenty-­nine in a couple months and all. You’ve probably been feeling Saturn’s gaze for the last year or so. That sound right?”

Gray gulped. Ever since she could remember, she’d felt like she should be running faster, pushing herself harder, showing off what she could do. But the last few months had felt different somehow. More urgent, maybe. It’s why she’d left the only town she’d ever lived in, moved to Louisiana, and started a challenging new job as a PR manager all in the past three weeks. And most important, it’s why she’d ended up at Madame Nouvelle Lune’s kitchen table.

Dori placed the tablet aside and swept the cleaned shrimp into a bowl. “As an Aries sun, you’re competitive and driven and optimistic. Saturn’s probably got you worried about reaching all these life goals you set for yourself, making you feel like you’re behind your peers. Feel like the clock’s ticking.”

The knife slipped in Gray’s hand, narrowly missing where her thumb held a piece of okra. Hands shaking, she set the knife down. “Well, that’s just a quarter-­life crisis. Everybody feels like that, right?”

About the Author

Susie Dumond
Susie Dumond is a queer writer originally from Little Rock, Arkansas. She is the author of Queerly Beloved and Looking for a Sign, and is a senior contributor at Book Riot. Susie lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife, Mary; her dog, Waffles; and her cat, Maple. When she’s not writing or reading, you can find her baking cupcakes or belting karaoke at the nearest gay bar. More by Susie Dumond
Decorative Carat