Category Archives: Trans

4 stars for Transformed: San Francisco (Charley & Electra #1) by Suzanne Falter & Jack Harvey @suzannefalter #Trans #Thriller #BDSM

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Title: Transformed: San Fransisco (Charley & Electra #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Suzanne Falter & Jack Harvey (New Heights Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: February 9th, 2016 — 214 pages

Synopsis

Charley McElroy is a handsome, well-heeled travel writer and CIA informant who also happens to be an F to M transman. And he’s having a midlife crisis.

Charley gets suspended by the Agency after forgetting to pay his taxes. Only days earlier, yet another marriage proposal has been spurned. In his grief and confusion, Charley befriends Electra, a high-powered Manhattan socialite-turned-dominatrix rebuilding her life in San Francisco. Then he meets Frankie, a disgruntled lesbian police sergeant who has been demoted by the SFPD for being a whistle blower.

Together they uncover a Christian fundamentalist’s lethal plot to destroy the ‘hedonists’ of San Francisco. Yet, neither the SFPD nor the CIA will take the threat seriously due to the trio’s outsider status.

Can they get anyone to listen to them? Or are they on their own?

Find out in this funny thriller filled with San Francisco’s spectacular scenery and inimitable, quirky characters.

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Review

FourStars

I had a little trouble getting into this book, to tell the truth. Then I sat down and really got past whatever my little hang-up was about, and ended up getting sucked into a great story. There are several themes going on here in addition to the big plot about domestic terrorism. Charley and Pamela – excuse me, Electra, both have issues with being who they are inside. Charley is a transman whose Grandfather accepted him for who he was inside and helped him start his transition at the extremely early age of 10. I wish every trans person out there had somebody in their life like Charley’s Grandpa. Charley has grown up as a male, but he still hasn’t done the last thing to make his change complete – bottom surgery. He lists several reasons for this, most of them pertaining to the fact that the surgery isn’t perfect and there’s a chance he won’t come out of it with functioning body parts. And there’s a lot of scarring involved on other body parts if he goes through with it. He’s contemplating it again, because it seems that his lack of a male appendage is heavily impacting his love life. Electra is trying to find herself after a messy public divorce that included extremely private details about her being a Domme with some of her friends’ husbands. She’s moved to San Francisco to start over in a more accepting environment, only to find that acceptance absent in the circles she moves in. Until she meets Charley.

The two hit it off, in spite of several things, including a significant age difference. There are sparks between them, but Electra tries to ignore them because Charley’s so much younger than she is, and Charley is hesitant because he fears rejection when he reveals to Electra just what kind of man he is. Into this fragile beginning come Frankie and Randy. Frankie is a SFPD sergeant who’s been blacklisted by the corrupt cops she was supposed to be exposing. Randy is a religious fanatic who’s decided the Lord has commanded him to bring His righteous wrath down onto the heads of all those San Franciscan degenerates. When Randy meets Electra, he decides that her murder would be the perfect opening salvo in his moral religious war. Charley, Electra, and Frankie are all that stand between Randy and his goals.

Interestingly enough, there are book club questions at the end of the book that are there to help readers discuss things about the book. I read through some of them and found the questions fascinating, and my answers a bit revealing. I’d love to discuss the book in a book club setting. That would be awesome! Of course, I’d have to be part of a book club first, and second, it would have to be a book club that would read and discuss this type of book.

This book was engaging and entertaining, and kept me turning page after page. It forced me to look at some of my own attitudes and biases. I might not have all of them resolved, but reading more and learning more helps me keep opening my mind and breaking down barriers. I am very much looking forward to another book in this series. I love how the relationship develops between Charley and Electra and I love the ending. I want to know more about what happens next for Frankie, even though she isn’t exactly a main character. I definitely want to read more.

~AmyP

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New Release: Torque by Charley Descoteaux (Author Interview) #Bisexual #Menage @CharleyDescote

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Title: Torque
Author Name & Publisher: Charley Descoteaux (Samhain Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: February 23, 2016 –

Synopsis

Sometimes letting things get complicated is the best way to figure it all out.

Mick Randall is on the run, from the biker culture he grew up in and his impossible vision of love. Alaska should be far enough to escape his old life—until he rolls into a wrecking yard and gets lost in a pair of pale, bottle-green eyes.

Scotty Bell has spent years learning to channel his fiery temper into the heat of a welding torch. His sexual heat has always been slower to ignite, but one look at Mick rouses confusion alongside desire. In all his life, he’s only been attracted to one other person—his best friend, Mercy Taylor.

Mick lands a temporary job at the yard, and finds an uneasy crash pad at Scotty’s place…where the ragged ends of his emotions get tangled up in Scotty and Mercy’s relationship.

But when Mick hears a Harley engine from his past bearing down on him, his first instinct is to go back to the half-life he’d been living. Lest his secrets destroy the only two people who’ve ever made him feel whole.

Warning: Contains references to abuse, subversive ideas about sexual identity and gender expression, and a free-range bisexual on a mission.

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Excerpt

Mick slept on the couch for two weeks before Scott let him get dinner. Mick brought a pizza, hot wings and a six-pack. When he offered Scott a beer, Mick thought for a second he was about to get decked.

“No thanks, I don’t drink. But you go ahead.”

Mick put five bottles in the fridge and popped the top on the sixth. The long pull of rich beer felt like cool water after he’d been walking for weeks in the desert.

“Never?”

“Nope. I got enough of that before I was even born, I don’t need any more.”

It only took half a beer for Mick to get past the uncomfortable feeling he should’ve asked Scott to tell him more, or that he should’ve switched to Mountain Dew. Scott rented an On Demand movie, something forgettable with vampires, and they sat in their places on the couch and divided their attention between the movie and the pizza for the next two hours. Tom camped out in his usual spot between their thighs, graciously accepting all the chicken and pepperoni tributes offered to him.

After the movie was over they watched another one on HBO, but didn’t pay much attention to it.

Mick had a nice buzz going and was happy to sit back and listen to Scott talk about his project—the VW Microbus he was converting into a flatbed. A warm, fuzzy feeling Mick almost didn’t recognize as happiness set up camp in his gut, and life was good.

He thought, more than once or twice, that Scott leaned toward him in a way that was a little more than friendly, but it had to be the beer.

Too bad.

Mick jerked in surprise when he realized he’d started to lean toward Scott. He had no right to be “more than friendly” to Scott. None at all.

Scott reached out to grasp his shoulder. “You okay, Mick?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Are you ready for bed?” Scott kneaded his shoulder, sending a current through his body.

“The movie isn’t over.”

“It’s not very good. If you don’t want to finish it, that’s okay with me.” Scott smiled and sat back against the couch, releasing Mick’s shoulder.

He couldn’t help himself, he leaned forward. Only a little bit. He didn’t want to lose Scott’s touch. In that moment, he couldn’t think of anything more important than Scott touching him, not even self-preservation.

Mick Randall wasn’t a stranger to self-medicating with alcohol but before he found Bell’s he hadn’t had a lot of money to spare, and lately he hadn’t had the time. Together, those circumstances had turned him into a lightweight. That had to be the explanation for why he saw a come-on in every glance and heard innuendo where surely Scott didn’t mean any. He’d have to be a lightweight to want so badly to respond to Scott’s touch with an embrace.

Maybe I should quit drinking.

Mick wasn’t capable of walking in a straight line by the time he hit the can, but it didn’t matter.

Four beers was plenty and he’d take the other two out of Scott’s fridge the next day and remember not to bring more. If he wanted a drink, he wouldn’t have to drive far. When he left the bathroom his thoughts centered on that warm, happy feeling, and what he could get up to the next day. Before he knew what was happening, Scott had him backed against the wall, both hands spread across his chest.

All that fuzzy warm happiness disappeared, replaced by a tiny shiver of panic mixed with a side of relief. The relief tangled with a mix of “fucking finally” and “what the fuck” that made Mick dizzy. Or maybe that’s just the beer.

“Scott. Maybe I should sleep somewhere else tonight.”

“Yeah. Like in my bed with me.”

“I was thinking like my car, or a motel.”

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5 Star and 4 Star Reviews for What a Difference a Day Makes by B.A. Huntley #FF #Trans

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Title: What a Difference a Day Makes
Author Name & Publisher: B.A. Huntley (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date: March 9, 2016

Synopsis

A day can last an hour or an eternity, as three friends learn in the final moments leading up to wedding they’ll be attending—one as the bride, two as the bridesmaids. Allison waits impatiently for her wedding night, the first night she and Jason will be together, worried that he won’t trust her to see his body. Lane reconnects with her on again, off again girlfriend, and Slim meets Joy, who tempts her into the sort of fling that’s never interested Slim before.

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Review

FiveStars

This is a really cute, fun story about three friends at the wedding of one of them. It’s short enough to read in an afternoon and has elements which appeal at a number of levels.

There really isn’t a whole lot of plot. This is pretty much about the relationships between the women and their significant others. They’re all at different stages, but they have a long-standing friendship. I loved the heart-to-hearts between them as well as the witty banter. The side characters were interesting as well, and none of them felt flat or like stereotypes. The sex was gloriously hot and ranged from fun to sweet to emotional.

To me, this felt like a celebration of women’s sexuality and friendship. It didn’t have a whole lot in terms of character development, and there wasn’t much dramatic tension. Instead, we got a peek into the lives and loves of these very different women.

A terrific short work, and I’m looking forward to reading more from Ms. Huntley in the future.

Amy M.

FourStars

I must admit that I haven’t read many trans books, and I’m not exactly sure you could say this is one, since the trans men in it aren’t main characters. But the whole book revolves around the marriage of one main character, Allison, to a trans man, and I was fascinated by the way the author wrote about it. I wish I knew of more real life stories that went as this marriage did. It was awesome that the attitude of everybody in the story was simply that he was a man, and that was that. The other two main characters are lesbians, and they’re having a bit of a time too, as they all get ready to watch one of their best friends get married. One is unsure about whether she even still has a girlfriend, and reading about Lane and Pabla’s story makes you quickly understand why that is. You do keep pulling for them though. This is one of those stories that makes you want so much for them to work things out, all the while wondering if they really can. Then there’s Slim and Joy. These two just make me smile. They’re having a fling, even though it really isn’t Slim’s style. But they’re having a lot of fun and a lot of hot sex. They leave things in a sort of ambiguous place, both wanting to continue to see each other, but Joy is not into relationships while Slim doesn’t know how to have sex outside the confines of one. The whole book is full of humorous incidents, harrowing tensions, and borderline bridezilla moments, along with a lot of people talking the bride off the metaphorical ledge. A very enjoyable book, and I’m glad I got the chance to read it.

Amy P.

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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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Filed under 4.5 Stars, 5 Star, New Release, Renee, Review, Rhayne, Trans