Monday, April 24, 2017

Review: Hopeless Romantic by Francis Gideon

HopelessRomantic_500x750Title ~ Hopeless Romantic

Author ~ Francis Gideon

Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing

Published ~ 8th April 2017

Genre ~ Contemporary Romance, Transgender





Nick Fraser is a true romantic. He wants the guy instead of the girl, but other than that, he wants everything his favorite rom-coms depict: the courtship, the passionate first kiss, the fairy-tale wedding. But after breaking up with the love of his life, Nick wonders if anything fairy-tale will ever happen for him.

Then he meets Katie, who’s just like a rom-com heroine. She’s sharp, funny, sweet, and as into music and punk culture as Nick is. What’s more, he’s incredibly attracted to her—even though she’s a woman. Nick has never considered that he might be bisexual, but his feelings for Katie are definitely real.

When Katie reveals that she’s transgender, Nick starts to see how much he doesn’t understand about the world, queer identity, and himself. He is hopelessly in love with Katie, but this isn’t a fairy tale, and Nick’s friends and family may not accept his new relationship. If he wants it all, he has to have the courage to make his fantasy a reality.


Sally’s Review

As the title suggests this novel is a Romance with big capital letters, and a very sweet one at that.  The cover is utterly appropriate and very well done – I do love original artwork – showing the young couple linked by shared headphones.

Set in Canada, it covers the tribulations of Noah who is doing his best to juggle his commitments to his PhD studies with a low paid job as a teaching assistant while trying to be independent of his parents. Money is a constant problem and Noah is fiercely proud of not being a drain on his parents resources. He’ll manage – he just needs to eat, pay rent, repair the car, pay the bus fare get to Toronto, attend a friend’s party and hire the tux he needs for his best mate’s wedding.

The one thing he doesn’t have is any romantic entanglements, his last boyfriend having flown the coop. Then, on the bus, he finds he’s sitting near Katie, a girl he has seen around campus and is utterly startled to realise that he really fancies her. She’s smart and funny and has a taste for the same kind of music and movies, but not too close. They have plenty to cheerfully argue about and find they can agree to disagree with grace. Noah is completely smitten before he discovers Katie’s big secret – that she was assigned male at birth – and that she doesn’t view it as a secret at all and thought he knew.  The rest of the book picks its way through various minefields, mostly of Noah’s making, with Katie displaying the patience of a saint at times.

As I said in the first paragraph, this is a very romancey novel with all the focus being firmly on the relationship. Any other conflicts are serious, or not, depending on how they impact on Katie and Noah’s increasing connection. While I felt a bit more could have been made of these, I think romance readers will enjoy the way the two negotiate their way to an understanding. Noah also exasperated me from time to time with the way he jumped to conclusions, and how easily he was pushed around by his straight friends but his shortcomings were what drove the plot. Katie was just delightful and so was Tucker, Noah’s room mate.

If I have a criticism, it’s that the tone is a little educational. Noah knows absolutely zero about transition, something with which Katie has comfortably finished, so she has to spend a lot of time telling him what’s what and pointing out when he is inadvertently being an insensitive jerk.  Now I am in no position to judge whether this comes off well, but I enjoyed  the reminders of how easy it is to play the privilege card without even realising you’re doing it, and how necessary it is to take your lumps gracefully when called out. So the story was great and if it lacked, just a little in pizazz and excitement, I think that it more than made up for it in other ways.

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Meet Francis Gideon

Francis Gideon is a nonbinary writer who dabbles in romance, mystery, fantasy, historical, and paranormal genres. Francis credits music, along with being an only child to a single mother, as why they write so much now. Long nights at home were either spent memorizing lyrics to pop-punk bands or reading voraciously. Add a couple of formative experiences in university, a network of weird artist friends, and after years of writing stories Francis never showed to anyone, they now have books to their name.

After receiving an MA in English literature, Francis wanted to do something a bit more fun. They soon found the LGBTQ romance community and fell in love on the spot. Since then, Francis has attempted to balance writing romances with as many different types of couples as possible while also attending school for their PhD. When not writing fiction or teaching university classes, Francis works on scholarly articles on everything from character deaths in the TV show Hannibal, the online archive of Canadian poet and artist P.K. Page, and transgender representation on YouTube. Francis is a middle name, used to keep students from Googling their teacher and asking far too many questions.

Francis lives in Canada with their partner, Travis, where they often spend nights disagreeing about what TV show to watch and making bad puns whenever possible. Travis receives dedications in Francis's novels because he tolerates Francis's long hours and listens to random story ideas late into the night. Francis also might be a bit of a hopeless romantic—as if you didn't already guess.


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