Category Archives: Trans

4 Stars for The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson #Trans #YoungAdult @lisa_letters

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Title: The Art of Being Normal
Author Name & Publisher: Lisa Williamson (David Fickling Books)
Publication Date & Length: January 1st 2015- 298 pages

Synopsis

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in Year 11 is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long . . .

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Review

fourstars

I always appreciate seeing more trans fiction, particularly YA. For the most part, this is a good read, with flawed-but-likable characters and a plot which doesn’t solely revolve around being trans (though that does play a big part).

It’s difficult to review this without spoilers because the things I liked most and least about this book are things which can’t be fully explained due to the surprises. I can say that I loved the end and found the resolution to several things to be satisfying and hopeful.

The novel switches first-person POV between David and Leo. Of the two, I found myself able to relate more to David, but I sense many readers will feel a stronger connection to Leo. That’s as it should be and is a sign of strong writing and characters who aren’t flat or stereotypes.

The story itself is terrific, albeit a bit binary (a trans girl who only likes boys is pretty standard stuff; would be nice to see a bi or lesbian trans girl). I enjoyed the friendships and family relationships, and it was easy to get a sense for who the characters were. The pacing was great, and it didn’t feel rushed or too slow to me. I definitely wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen.

The biggest hesitation I had (and for me, this is major–it may not be nearly as much an issue for other readers) was the “surprise twist” with Leo. First of all, I had both his secrets pretty much worked out toward the beginning. Second, I really dislike when an author uses a vital part of a first-person character’s life as a surprise for readers. It comes across as being played for shock value (even if this is not the intent). The story would not have changed at all if readers had known up front about Leo. Every single other thing would have remained identical, so I feel no need for that to have been a revelation to readers 2/3 of the way through the story, especially given that we knew David’s big secret just about on page 1. It’s even more mystifying when I consider the fact that there’s an even more significant (and emotionally impacting) revelation later in the story.

Despite that, I still think this is a good read, probably more aimed at people who are not trans but want to understand the experience many trans teens have in a world where they are at least to a degree able to come out at younger ages than in past generations.

Amy

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3 Stars for 180 Days by T.E. Ridener #Trans

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Title: 180 Days
Author Name & Publisher: T.E. Ridener
Publication Date & Length: September 29th 2015- 296 pages

Synopsis

Lydia McIntosh left her old life behind when she said goodbye to Prairie Town, North Carolina and started over halfway across the country with her beloved Gran; away from her family, away from everyone who knew the person she once was, and from the identity she never quite wanted in the first place. When her grandmother passes away, she returns home and while she only intends to stay for the funeral, her grandmother has other plans, from the grave. Her will states that Lydia must remain in Prairie Town for six months in order to give her family and her old town a chance to get to know the new her, the real her. Lydia has had years to adjust to long hair, summer dresses, and nail polish, but she understands her family will need time to get reacquainted with a daughter they’ve never known and a sister they’ve missed terribly. Anticipating the worst, as she always has, Lydia’s feelings about her old town begin to change when she meets her brother’s best friend, Callum. Callum is kind and more accepting than she could have ever imagined and she’s falling for him. When her 180 days are over, will she be able to say goodbye to the family she’s missed so much? Will she survive her mother’s endless intolerance? Can she really leave the man who acknowledges her past and still wants her? A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a story about a transgender girl and her journey to acceptance and love when she returns to her hometown. Within the pages of this book you will be introduced to characters who color outside the lines and that’s just how they like it. I implore you to give them a chance because we are all beautiful and unique in our own ways, and we all deserve love and happiness.

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Review

ThreeStar

I chose this book because I liked the premise and I love reading good stories about trans characters. I’m really torn on how I feel about this one.

On the one hand, I really liked the characters. Lydia was sweet and funny, and I loved Callum. With the exception of Lydia’s mother, I thought her family was great. There were a number of supporting characters I really liked as well.

On the other hand, I found so many little things that frustrated me. One or two things might not have been a big deal, but that many were distracting. I feel like trans people reading this might want to be forewarned, and people hoping to understand being trans might come away more confused than before. So here are the things which left me feeling uncomfortable.

There were some factual inaccuracies (for example, the FDA has no official stated policy on trans blood donation, and if you’ve changed your gender with Social Security, no one could tell that way that you’re trans; discrimination happens, but in the scenario in the story, it’s highly unlikely–I just can’t give spoilers for why). The timeline was really confusing with flashbacks to Lydia’s life before she left, and it felt like there were holes there. I was put off by constant references to “the sex change thing” and other outdated language. Agatha was potentially a great character, but it got lost in their constant name changes (Agatha, Agnes, Aggie, Ags–which I couldn’t tell if they were related to Agatha’s in the moment sense of gender or just an error or some other reason) and referring to being gender fluid as “split personalities.” Laney identifying as “not into men” but being interested in Benji was also horribly problematic (trans men are men, not some other gender unless they state otherwise and definitely are not lesbians). The trans characters often referred to their dead names (pre-transition/birth-assigned names). Almost all the trans characters were basically heterosexual, and Lydia kept referring to “real sex” despite having been intimate in many ways with Callum by that point. There was heavy focus on “passing” and having sex reassignment surgery. The plot device at the end was a bit over the top for my preference as well.

I’m glad to see more people taking an interest in writing about trans characters, and I hope the trend continues. I did enjoy the love story, but the other elements made it hard to concentrate on that aspect. I guess this just wasn’t really the book I hoped it would be.

~Amy

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4 stars for California Skies by Kayla Bashe #Bi #Genderqueer #Trans @kaylabashe @LT3Press

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Title: California Skies
Author Name & Publisher: Kayla Bashe (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date & Length: January 13, 2016

Synopsis

Bandits came looking for the legendary emeralds belonging to Maggie’s family, killing her older brother and scarring her face. She can’t change the past, but finding the jewels will help her injured sister recover. In need of reliable muscle, she goes to an old friend of her brother’s: tough-as-nails nonbinary bounty hunter California Talbot.

While Maggie expected hard roads and violence, given the tragedy that provoked the journey, she wasn’t expecting the bar fights, snakes, and bandits to be the easy part—and the difficult part to be a growing attraction to someone who’d probably never look twice at her mutilated face.

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Review

FourStars

This was a very enjoyable read. I liked the characters and how the author showed their past friendship as well as why California would be interested in helping Maggie out. I like when characters have that tension between them and have those feelings for each other and yet don’t realize that the other person feels that way. It builds expectation and can result in some very humorous scenes. The one thing I did have a problem with is the use of they/them as a pronoun for a trans person. It took me a while to realize Bashe was only referring to one person, which I found confusing. When I realized it was being used to refer to only California, this sort of plurality made me think there were two people inside the character. And there were times I had to reread passages to make sure I was clear on who exactly was being referred to. I can only hope that some gender neutral word comes into widespread use so this type of confusion can be avoided in the future.

~AmyP

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5 and 4.5 Stars for Picture (Im)Perfect by J.S. Frankel #Trans #YA

Cover

Title: Picture (Im)Perfect
Author Name: J.S. Frankel
Publication Date & Length: September 1, 2015 – 220 pgs

Synopsis

Nolan Goodman, star swimmer for Portland High, meets Mia Swarva at a swim meet and thinks he’s found his perfect girlfriend. They start dating, things are going well…and then he finds out that Mia was born Mark, and his concept of what constitutes relationships not to mention sexuality goes out the window. However, Mia has that certain something about her, and Nolan does his best to understand as he genuinely cares for her. Their relationship develops after a series of stops and starts, but when Mia is inadvertently outed on a social website, she and Nolan have to run the gamut of emotions as well as deal with the inevitable reaction to her being transgender. It is only then, that Nolan learns the true meaning of commitment.

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Review

FiveStars

I absolutely adored this story. I have to say that after reading quite a few Trans books, I can’t say that I’ve read one from the partner of the trans individual. It was really great to see for once what it is like to be on the other side and finding out such an unexpected piece of information about someone you care for.
I really enjoyed the way all the struggles of a trans individual were approached. It showed that there is support in the world and love is possible while also that there is still hatred out there.
This was a really sweet story that I would highly recommend.
Renee

FourandHalfStars

This was the first title I had the opportunity to read from this author and I was blown away. First, I believe it takes a special kind of person to tackle something like Transgender issues and not mangle the whole process. Frankel managed it with finesse and understanding while making the characters and their issues relatable.

The connection between Mia and Nolan was evident from the time they met and Mia’s subsequent worry about when and how to tell him seemed very real. His reaction ranked on the positive end of realistic and I had no trouble following it. A great talent for putting a spin on points of view and weaving a plot which kept me interested are things which will keep me reaching for this authors work in the future.

Rhayne

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5 Stars for Hiding in Plain Sight by Zane Thimmesch-Gill #Memoir #Trans

1.5

Title: Hiding in Plain Sight
Author Name & Publisher: Zane Thimmesch-Gill (Riverdale Avenue Books)
Publication Date & Length: September 9, 2015 – 298 pgs

Synopsis

“Homeless queer kids – and they are legion – too often find themselves ostracized and silenced. In Zane Thimmesch-Gill they have finally found a strong, clear voice.”

–Riki Wilchins, author of Read My Lips, GenderQueer and Queer Theory, Gender Theory

In the memoir, Hiding in Plain Sight, this transgendered author describes in graphic and harrowing detail a homeless teen life on the streets that was marked with constant violence. Amidst the daily struggle to survive, she slowly came to the realization that she hated her body just as much as everyone did. When she was honest with herself she’d always known that she was meant to be a boy.

Despite the intense pressure of street life and having to come to terms with the fact that she was a transsexual, Kali never used drugs or alcohol, never committed a single crime, and never gave up on her dreams to make something out of her life. While the rest of the street kids were escaping into addiction, she figured out how to put herself through college and finance a sex change.

Life slowly improved as Kali became Zane and started settling into his body. He eventually found work at a shelter for homeless youth and started to make friends. But his euphoria was short lived. A resident at the shelter knew that he was a transsexual and became obsessed with making sure everyone found out. A few gang members who were living in the program confronted Zane, and when he was too scared to admit the truth, they decided to get their boys together late one night and prove him wrong.

Hiding in Plain Sight is a transformative and ultimately inspiring story of survival against all odds, of pursing and accomplishing your dreams in spite of enormous and often seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

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Review

FiveStars

Wow… This was just… amazing… and heartbreaking.
There were so many times that I wanted to cry and give up for the main character while reading, I can only imagine what it was like for him. Life is hard for most folks, but the author really shows us just how ugly the world is out there for those who don’t fall under ‘normal’ in some people’s books.
I have to say that this is one of those books that everyone really needs to read to not only see how hard it is for someone who is transexual, but just to see how horrible people can be. There are so many things that could’ve gone differently for the author if there would have been people to help in a productive, supportive way. Although I still am thankful that there were people out there that were willing to help the author when he was still in high school even if things didn’t enough out well, it was better than him having stayed with his biological family.
Through it all, the author somehow managed to stay strong and never stop looking toward the future which is amazing. Really inspiring for those of us who don’t have it as hard as he did, but still need the reminder that not only could things be worse, but that tomorrow will come and things will get better as long as we keep trying.
Very well written memoir. Thank you for sharing your story with the world.
Renee

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New Release: Holiday Want Ads Anthology by Avery Duran, Shira Glassman, Emjay Haze, Kassandra Lea, Dale Cameron Lowry, G.O. Noce, Marie Piper, Rob Rosen, Angora Shade, Robin Watergrove

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Title: Holiday Want Ads Anthology
Author Name & Publisher: Avery Duran, Shira Glassman, Emjay Haze, Kassandra Lea, Dale Cameron Lowry, G.O. Noce, Marie Piper, Rob Rosen, Angora Shade, Robin Watergrove (Torquere Press)
Publication Date & Length: December 9, 2015 – 59,000 Words

Synopsis

Whether reading Facebook ads, Craigslist, or the classified section of the local newspaper, there’s always something interesting available in the want ads… if you’re looking. In our Holiday Want Ads Anthology, Torquere Press offers ten beautiful stories of found love from ten talented authors.

In Compatible Gardens, Angora Shade weaves a tale about strangers on a city bus. Emjay Haze reveals a little Elfin Magic in her workplace romance. Little White Lights, Marie Piper’s feature, highlights illumination as a gift. In Wrapped Up, Kassandra Lea brings readers a holiday storm full of anxiety for both the storm and a question’s response. Avery Duran brings us a winter ball, complete with a Prince Charming in Matzo Ball. Eitan’s Chord, Shira Glassman’s offering, brings readers a visit from three Chanukah fairies creating magic from their passion. Thank You, Craig highlights fireworks and the versatility of a fire escape. G.O. Noce tells about a Boyfriend for Rent, and both parties in the agreement get a lot more than they bargained for. Looking for a Soft Center, by Robin Watergrove, shows how articulating one’s wants is much harder than simply writing an ad. And Dale Cameron Lowry gives readers an ex-Mormon hiring a bartender who helps with a party and builds a friendship—possibly more—with his employer in Mi Alma.

Enjoy Holiday Want Ads!

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Excerpt

from Compatible Gardens by Angora Shade

Sweet mercy, I hate the bus. The university is a busy place, and no matter what hour of the day I find myself in need of transportation, the bus is packed. And it’s not just students. Teachers, local residents, and even businessmen from the surrounding area are regulars, not to mention the crazies who ride all day long and do nothing but stare. The bus smells the way intimate spaces usually do too—musty, stale air, mixed with a collage of too many personal scents—and the seats are stained, worn, and uncomfortable. I tell myself it’s time to invest in a bicycle as I watch the 60 West pull up to the curb. I grasp my sweater tightly around my chest, and force myself to believe Fate has opened a door for me today, and I have to walk through it.

The bus door closes behind me, and something squeaks loudly as the driver peels off the curb before I’ve sat down. My balance shifts, and I lurch toward a startled elderly man. He frowns at me despite my mumbled apology, and I stumble my way down the aisle over bags and shoes headed for the first available seat. I’m lucky there’s one up front where I’ve walked in. The seats here face inward like a bench rather than in pairs toward the back, and the extra space makes the ride more bearable. I pray today will be less crowded. I pray Fate will continue to behave.

Fate is why I’m here. This may be my last chance for finding a new apartment with a decent roommate, and the bus is the fastest way to my goal. The fall semester is coming to a close and the holidays are approaching, which has made my task much harder. Housing should be established by now, but I’m not happy. Remaining in loud dorms with inconsiderate, obnoxious jerks for a day longer than I have to would be torture. There’s no privacy, no calm, and hearing the sex noises my current roommate and her boyfriend make in our shared room makes me nuts, not to mention trying to share a bathroom with eight other girls. The food is terrible, nothing’s ever clean, and illness spreads like wildfire. It’s a joke. I’m a junior now anyway. I figure I’m past due to get out. I need space where I can breathe with a room of my own away from the garden of weeds.

Soon. Now. Pronto.

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5 Stars for The Good Guys by Francis Gideon #Genderqueer #Trans

1.5

Title: The Good Guys
Author Name & Publisher: Francis Gideon (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date: December 9, 2015

Synopsis

When Oliver meets a really cute elf while out Live Action Role Playing, he thinks he’s found the Sam to his Frodo. He tries to find out more about Oakenshire the Elf, but comes up with nothing. When summer vacation forces the LARPing group to take a break, Oliver throws himself into his upcoming play, where he is one of the main leads. There he meets a new person to captivate his attention: Avery.

She’s smart, funny, and into all the same things that Oliver is into, even LARPing. As their friendship progresses, Oliver begins to notice the similarities the young woman has to Oakenshire the Elf. It could be his final chance to see his elf again—or another case of mistaken identity that will leave Oliver fumbling with pronouns, excuses, and hurt feelings.

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Review

FiveStars

This was such a cute, fun, sweet story. First of all, it had me at LARPing (live-action role play, for those not in the know). I love a geek-nerd premise for a story, and I admit, this wasn’t one I’d seen before.

Oliver is a really refreshing character. He’s honest about his inner struggles, but he’s also not overdrawn. I think my favorite part was when he talked about liking to skip the kids-and-mortgage talk and go right to the next level of conversation. That’s exactly how I am, and it made me want to meet Oliver in real life.

Avery is absolutely terrific. They are one of the best bi-gender characters I’ve read. Genderqueer and fluid characters can be tricky to write because there are so many variations. But Avery was fantastic, and I loved the way the relationship developed with Oliver.

My only (very brief) hesitation was in how Oliver’s bisexuality seemed at first to be in the “confused” category. Not that bisexual people can’t ever be confused, but the author didn’t seem to quite know at first how to handle Oliver identifying that way. But by the end of the story, that was cleared up just fine, and the biggest thing I appreciated was how it was absolutely clear that for Oliver, bisexual did not just mean “men and women only” (common misconception that occasionally comes out in fiction). So my initial hesitation was definitely put to rest.

Before my review becomes longer than the actual story, I’ll just say again how much I loved and appreciated it. Excellent writing, great characters, and a sweet story that never felt too much like “educating people on trans issues.” Very well done.

Amy M.

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New Release: 5 Stars for Her Kind of Man by Nona Raines #Trans #Romance @nonaraines

Her Kind of Man Cover

Title: Her Kind of Man (Spectrum #2)
Author Name & Publisher: Nona Raines (Loose ID)
Publication Date & Length: November 10, 2015 – 84 pgs

Synopsis

During the day, Roy Girard works with truckers. It’s a macho environment where a man is judged by how tough he is. And everyone knows Roy as one of the toughest.

On his own time Roy helps mentor young people who are LGBT, and cares about them as if they were his own. He’s in love with Venetia, a trans woman.

He’s careful to keep his nine-to-five completely separate from his private life. He knows his work buddies wouldn’t understand. And he doesn’t want Venetia exposed to their crude, narrow-minded views. It’s his job to protect her.

But when his two worlds collide, he has to make a choice. In trying to protect the woman he loves, he asks for more than she can give. In his need to keep her safe, he risks pushing her out of his life forever.

*NOTE* Her Kind of Man is the sequel to His Kind of Woman.

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Review

FiveStars

This was the follow up to His Kind of Woman and it continued to show us all the trials that come from being different and the things that come with being in a relationship with a transgendered individual.
While I could see why Roy wanted to hide the fact that Venetia had once been a man as she was now a woman in every way, I also fully connected with why Venetia didn’t want to do that. She wanted to help others that were going through the things she had to go through to get to where she was.
We also get to see the bias and hate that is in the world toward those who are different from the norm. Those who can’t see that everyone is equal, no matter what or who they are and who they love.
There were a few painful points in this book that made me dislike Roy, but he was a smart man and got his head on straight and that made me like him even more.
Great story.
Renee

Excerpt

Upstairs, she collapsed on the divan, doubts writhing like a tangle of snakes in her brain. Had she been out of line to question him? Had she been too suspicious, even paranoid?

Would he forgive her?

She’d changed into on her nightclothes, the comfy cotton ones decorated with cats, and was just reaching for the Häagen Dazs in her freezer when her phone buzzed.

Roy had texted her. I’m home.

Her fears eased. He’d kept his promise, letting her know he was safe. He was a man of his word. Her kind of man.

Good, she responded. Then, as of their own volition, her fingers tapped I miss you.

She waited, holding her breath. At last an answer came.

Miss u 2.

A few moments later, the phone rang. Her hand trembled as she picked up. “Roy?”

“For God’s sake, do you really think I’m the kind of man who’d pull a shitty play like that?”

“You don’t know the stories I’ve heard. Things that have happened to friends of mine.”

“Forget your friends. Forget the stories. This is me. The man who loves you. You’re the only woman in my life, the only one I want. And fuck! It pisses me off, you thinking I’m some lowdown scumbag who’d cheat on you.”

She caught her breath. The man who loves you. Did he realize what he’d just said?

“I was scared. I had to ask.” Why else would he have been so secretive? But she didn’t want to bring that up now and start the whole argument again.

“So you believe me?”

“Yes.”

“And you trust me?”

She gripped the phone, her heart thudding. “Yes, I trust you.”

“So how come I’m here and you’re way the hell over there?” His voice lowered an octave, turned soft and intimate.

Her girl parts tingled, reacting to his sexy rumble. “It’s a problem. I do remember asking you up, though.”

“Huh. And like a real dumb-ass, I blew it, trying to make a point.”

“Well, the invitation’s still good,” she responded in the most mellow, seductive tone she could summon.

“I’m on my way.”

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4.5 Stars for His Kind of Woman (SPECTRUM #1) by Nona Raines #Trans #Romance @nonaraines

1.5

Title: His Kind of Woman (SPECTRUM #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Nona Raines (Loose Id)
Publication Date & Length: January 6, 2015 – 67 pgs

Synopsis

When Roy Girard went looking for Victor Varrano, he never expected a woman to answer the door. He soon discovers that Victor is now Venetia. Roy’s startled, but even more surprised by his attraction to her. As they spend time together, he doesn’t want to let her go. But she’s sure to dump him when she learns his secret.

Venetia’s falling hard and fast for Roy. But when she learns that his brother was the bully who tormented her in high school, she’s shattered. She can’t wrap her head around the fact that the man who made such amazing love to her could so completely betray her trust.

Note: This short story is loosely connected toUncollared

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Review

FourandHalfStars

This is a really great book to read if you haven’t read a book with a trans-gendered woman in it. Venetia is a post op trans female, which means she is… all woman.
I loved the way the bullying side of things worked out. It shows just how hard bullying is on the bullied… but sometimes on the bully once they grow up and realize what a horrible thing they had done. The amount of damage that is done by bullying is so much more than so many people realize. Thankfully, Victor/Venetia used it to become a stronger, more confident woman instead of going the other route. In fact, she used it to set up a group to help LBGTQ youth who need/want support.
There is so many great things about this book that I think so many people need to know about. Not just the transgender things either, although I will say having read numerous books about the topic, it was well researched and correct in how Venetia ended up after her surgery.
Although I will say that I did wish there was a bit more about all the steps and process it took her to become the woman she was, and not just the surgery as that is the final step she had to go through.
All in all, I would say it was a great read.
Renee

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4 Stars for Saviours of Oestend (Oestend #2) by Marie Sexton #BDSM #Menage @mariesexton

1.5

Title: Saviours of Oestend (Oestend #2)
Author Name & Publisher: Marie Sexton (Pride Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: June 25, 2012 – 266 pgs

Synopsis

Life on the prairie has never been easy, but now Oestend itself seems bent on destruction.

Banished from the BarChi by the man he loves, Dante Pane must find a way to rebuild his life and heal his broken heart. Unable to love women, afraid to love men, Dante wants only to find some peace.

But peace is hard to come by in Oestend. Dante’s new home reeks of death, he can’t keep his ranch hands in line, and his new cook is taking over his house. As if that’s not enough, strange occurrences plague the prairie—dead animals, unnatural weather, and voices riding wind. Dante is determined to persevere, but it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than his ranch. All of Oestend is at risk, unless somebody can set things right.

With the help of his faithful ranch hands, Frances and Simon, and the combined strength of friends, both old and new, Dante will fight for his life, his home, and the heart of the one he loves.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, and menage relationships.

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Review

FourStars

In this book we see Dante who has been sent to away to a different ranch. Well Aren sends Cami to cook for Dante which there was something strange about her from the start. Since this book is listed as M/M I will say what it was sorry if it is a spoiler but she is transgender. Her real name is Cameron and I can not tell you how much I loved her/his character. I felt like she was good for Dante and what he needed to bring him back from the dark.
So with this book we see them trying to figure out what all the weird occurrences are being caused by and we also see a lot of Simon and Francis story too in this book. While also seeing a lot of the same characters again from the first book. There was also a lot of action and angst plus a lot of steam with this book too.
This is were I am going to go into what dropped this book down for me. So once a couple has been established I am not a fan of sharing which is a personal preference for me unless it is a ménage as all three men in a couple I really do not like reading about it in other situations.. So what happens in the last part of this book really brought this book down for me unfortunately.
All together I did really like this book except for the last part which sadly I just was not a fan of personally.

Kara

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