Author: Nona Raines
Publisher: Loose Id
Cover Artist: Ginny Glass
JJ’s Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars
PizzyGirl’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 11/10/2015
Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)
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 private life completely separate from his nine-to-five. 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.
Roy and Venetia are ordinary people. They’re not celebrities, or super models, or even wealthy. They’re just two ordinary people trying to live simple lives, and feeling their way through a relationship. They’re also trying to make life a little bit better for local LGBTI teens through SPECTRUM, an organisation that offers support and a place of acceptance.
One of the big problems is that Roy works for a trucking company, where homophobia is the norm, and he’s in a relationship with Venetia, a trans woman. Roy wants to keep Venetia safe, but his idea of keeping her safe tends to involve hiding her away and maybe having both of them run away.
Venetia is tired of hiding, her life and her journey have not been easy, to say the least. Bullying, beatings, abuse, rejection by some family members, bigotry… But she’s a strong woman and she’s not hiding, and she’s going to keep working with the teens in SPECTRUM.
This novel is about Roy and Venetia’s relationship, and some of the mistakes they make (yep, they’re not perfect and sometimes they don’t get it right). They both need to do some relationship work, but they’re willing to try.
I found this a touching story, sad and rage-inducing in parts of course, annoying now and then (Roy and Venetia, I’m looking at both of you). I liked the glimpses we got of some of the teens, and I wanted to know more about them.
When I started reading this I didn’t realise there was an earlier book (the one where Roy and Venetia get together), so I can safely say it can be read as a standalone. However, because I found I wanted to know more about the characters (and how they did come together), I also picked up the earlier novel His Kind of Woman. Hopefully there is a third novel somewhere in the works.
Oh, and I should also mention there is a little M/F sex in the novel.
I am really liking this series. While I wish there was a closer look into the life of a transgender woman and her personal and physical struggles (for understanding purposes), I like the way the author focuses on the world around her and how the world reacts to her and the rest of the LGBT+ community.
As I was reading this story, I was struggling to come up with what to write in this review. I was struggling to find the words to describe the way this book was structured and why I felt it was well done. But at around 75% it all clicked. Venetia and Roy were arguing and she used the following words.
“It means you’re the one who has to choose. And I won’t blame you if you decide it’s too much for you, being with me. Honest to God, I won’t. I’m a target, and being with me makes you one too. It’s a lot to ask.”
Those words summarize the entire premise of this book. This story featured a transgender character, but the focus was not on her. Instead the focus was on those people in her life and how they deal with the bigotry and hate the world seems to accept as normal. This was Roy’s journey of understanding and self discovery. It was all about him interacting with hate and how he had to internalize that drama and either choose to accept it or not.
This was a very frank look at life with someone outside society’s definition of acceptable or normal. It was ugly at times but in the end it was very loving. People can be horrible, but with enough love, hate can be overcome. I am sad there is not another installment in this series published yet, because I am so looking forward to Roy and Venetia’s next adventure.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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