Author ~ Francis Gideon
Publisher ~ NineStar Press
Published ~ 31st October 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
The last time Joël Paquet was in New York City, he nearly died. Too distracted by his problems, he didn’t look when he crossed the street and was nearly made into a pancake by a transport truck in the downtown core. The only saving grace of this trip, other than the cute person working as a living statue who saved him and then took him out for coffee, was the fact that his near-death experience finally gave him the courage to come out as trans.
Five years later, Joël Paquet is one of the most in-demand horror writers in North America. Going to New York City from his current Montreal home for the Black Markets Horror Con should be exciting, but when he gets an email that uses his birth name, he nearly cancels the trip altogether. The only thing that keeps Joël going is the thought of that living statue who saved his life once before.
It’s difficult to find anything not to like about this book. It’s a sweet romance with lots of little twists and lovely detail.
The story could be cliché with a nervous pre transition (f to m) trans writer attending a horror con and being literally swept off his feet by a woman. The same writer, post transition, attends the same con five years later and meets the same person he’s been thinking about all these years who turns out to also be a transitioned trans man. Some people might consider it to be cliché, but I didn’t. For me, it all fell into place beautifully and there was nothing staged about the events as they unfolded.
Some of the things I particularly loved was the poetry and the cats – you really have to read this book if only for the cat scene. Pure therapy.
There are a lot of themes going on in this book. Clearly the trans theme is very strong throughout the book, and I love the writer’s take on it. I’m sure it will offend a few trans people with its flippancy, but that’s part of what makes it great for me.
Another theme is the writing process of writers, and how it reflects and impacts on our personal lives. I found that spot on. In some cases Joël only realizes on looking back, just how much of himself he’d revealed through his characters, sometimes without even being aware he was doing it. In a real sense he discovered who he was through the characters he wrote. I think we’ve all that kind of “aha” moment in our writing when we realize our characters reflect ourselves a little more than we’d thought or intended.
Another theme I think is that life can take you on quite a journey, then drop you off right back where you started, but if you just open your eyes and look around you’ll see you’ve travelled a spiral, not a circle, and though on one level everything seems the same, in fact it’s all completely different, very often because we ourselves are different, changed by the journey.
The poetry is a little cringe-worthy at times, but a brave addition and I liked it. I would love to hear the slam piece spoken, so if the author ever wants to make a video of it, send me a link. This is a book that would translate very well to audio, if they have the right narrator who can handle the poetry.
The writing was fluid and technically good. There were no editing issues or grammatical errors that jumped at me. The pacing was just right, the story arcs completed and the story was sweet and genuine. One of my favourite things was the characterisation. It’s not easy to keep a character’s voice consistent as they travel through a significant period of time and a major transition, and by consistent I don’t mean exactly the same. I liked that Violet and Tracey had slightly different voices than Joël and Theo, and that’s exactly as it should be. They were very well rounded and endearing characters.
My only complaint is that, at times, the book can be a little preachy. I understand the writer has important issues to get across and, on the whole he does that very well, but there were moments when I felt I was being talked at.
Anyone who reads my reviews will know I have issues with emotional depth and I think this book has the balance almost right. I could have done with a little more exploration of Joël’s feelings and there were times when I felt I was being held at a distance a little. That’s not a big issue, though.
There is only one sex scene, although there are previous tender moments, and I think it’s handled just about as well as any I have ever read. We have two female to male transitioned trans characters who explore their differences and similarities in an extremely sensitive and sensual way. I have a tendency to skim sex scenes, but this one had me riveted to every word and I feel it’s taught me a lot I didn’t know about the physical side of transitioning. Not a great deal of technical detail, of course because it’s not that kind of book, but certainly how differently trans people not only achieve their modifications, but also how they experience and view them.
This book certainly had a spark, but there were just a few tiny things that made it a book I would unhesitatingly recommend to all my friends and the readers of this blog, rather than a book I would be actively going around hitting people over the head with and demanding they read. That’s why it’s a 4.5 and not a 5. On the other hand, many people believe it is the tiny flaws that make a diamond even more appealing, and that could well be the case here.
My final recommendation. Read it. You won’t be sorry you did.