Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Unknown
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 03/02/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Trans*
‘True love smoulders, not burns,’ John had always thought. That is, until he meets Kirsty, a gorgeous, enigmatic woman with emerald hair. There’s only one problem: Kirsty is actually a man – a man who happens to spend every waking second of his time as a girl – but a man no less. Well, that and the fact that John is in a relationship, one that he doesn’t plan on getting out of anytime soon.
Writing a negative review is never a fun thing to do especially when it comes to a book with an important subject matter such as this one. There are very few transgender romances out there and I really, really wanted to like Staying Her. Unfortunately, there were just too many problems with the story to recommend it to readers.
The main character here is John who is in a relationship with Skye. He’s not happy in the relationship but he doesn’t apparently have any plans to get out of it either. Why? I have no clue. There isn’t anything pleasant in her personality. She’s selfish, self-centered and rude. She doesn’t care that John would rather have a quiet evening at home and forces him to go out on a regular basis. She’s also jealous and gets mad at John just for talking to another woman.
Then along comes Kirsty. She’s sweet and pleasant to be around. She listens to John and doesn’t judge him. Basically, she’s the perfect woman for John. Except for the fact that she’s not a woman. She’s actually a man who dresses and lives as a woman, though in the beginning she claims not to be transgender.
John doesn’t care about Kirsty’s biology and they continue spending time together as friends. He even stays with Skye even though she is downright rude to Kirsty more than once. Additionally, Skye no longer feels threatened by John and Kirsty’s friendship once she learns Kirsty is actually a man.
I expected there to be a little internal conflict when John learned the truth. The fact that there wasn’t was both good and bad. Good because I do like seeing a straight not man flip out or question his sexuality simply because of an attraction to a trans* woman. Bad because there could’ve been a little more depth to the issue.
John was attracted to a man. John was very attracted to a man.
He contemplated this fact for a moment. He’d heard of men doing similar and promptly throwing up, after thoroughly questioning their sexuality. John was too tired for such theatrics. He knew he wasn’t gay (he’d been through this a couple of times before) and while, yes, he was attracted to Kirsty, she was in no way a man from his perspective at the time.
I would’ve like more of an explanation regarding the reference to having “been through this a couple times before.” That’s somewhat indicative of the POV in this book. It’s an extremely shallow POV.
John and Kirsty continue their friendship and it gradually becomes more. Despite accepting his attraction to Kirsty, John doesn’t consider ending his relationship with Skye until he knows for sure Kirsty felt the same way. A real man would’ve moved on knowing he wasn’t the right man for Skye, regardless of what happened with Kirsty. That’s just one reason I didn’t really like John.
Another issue I had is concerning John’s sexuality. Many times throughout the book John considers how he much he doesn’t like sex and how he sleeps with Skye not because he enjoys it but because she does. He never once considers telling her this or being honest with her about his feelings about sex. No, he figures it’s better just to go along keeping something as important of his sexuality from her.
Several hours earlier, Skye had, out of the blue, laid beside him, utterly exposed, and said ‘I’m yours’. And yet, John felt nothing. John pondered this fact for a time. John, for reasons unbeknownst to even him, had long identified as a ‘romantic-asexual’, someone who enjoyed a loving relationship with another person but wanted nothing to do with the sex part. John didn’t find this weird (to be honest, he found people who wanted to have sex somewhat weird) but the sight of Skye’s naked, available body and his utter lack of interest for it was starting to make him wonder what was really going through his head. For some reason, he couldn’t even be bothered putting on a show tonight. He just kind of sat there, his disinterest apparent from a mile away, though, to his relief, Skye didn’t seem to notice as the deed was done.
This paragraph left me with several questions.
First of all how does he identify as romantic-asexual “unbeknownst to him?” Did someone force him to choose that label? If he doesn’t think it fit him why does he use it?
My second question is regarding sex with Skye. She laid beside him and offered herself and he just sat there not even bothering to put on a show yet she didn’t seem to notice his disinterest as the deed was done. How does that work physically? There is no explanation. This is something a good editor should’ve caught.
Later, after John and Kirsty have sex, John’s sexuality seems to change.
Remember how you didn’t like sex, John? he asked himself in his mind. You can’t say that anymore.
For the first time in his life, John understood what all the fuss was about; what people meant when they said that sex was one of the greatest experiences a person can have. No longer did he consider the act merely an animalistic exchange of body fluids. He knew now what it truly was: the ultimate physical culmination of emotion.
But why the sudden change in attitude? John wondered.
He looked down to the woman lying on his chest below him. He loved her, more deeply and more intensely than he had ever loved anyone before. He could name all the reasons under the sun to explain why this was the case, but none of them mattered. She was perfect to him. That’s all there was to it. He knew it from the moment he saw her for the first time, perhaps not in his mind, but certainly in his heart.
And that was why.
I’m offended on behalf of asexual’s that the author got the facts of asexuality wrong. Being asexual does not mean you become sexual with the right person, which is what I got out of those paragraphs. It would’ve been different if John hadn’t earlier said he identified as asexual. He could’ve just not enjoyed sex with Skye because she was the wrong person, but using that label then saying with Kirsty it was different goes contrary to everything I’ve learned about asexuality.
By the way, I chatted with someone who does identify as asexual and she agreed with me on this matter.
I also felt like there was some misinformation regarding transgenders as well. Early on in the book Kirsty says she didn’t identify as transgender, but later, after her and John are together, she does. In fact, she’s so gung ho about being a woman that she has surgery to get breasts. And John just loves the breasts even though he previously said he loved Kirsty exactly how she was.
There are some writing problems in the book as well. Things that a good editor should’ve caught.
One example is in the quote I used above: he asked himself in his mind.
Who else would he ask in his mind, except himself? A split personality, maybe? The wording is redundant. The author might benefit from reading some books on writing or taking some classes if he wants to further pursue writing. He has the imagination and talent to do well, but he needs to hone his craft.
There is a sequel to this book but I can’t say I care enough about these characters to even give it a try.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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