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
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.
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.