New Love STARTING FROM SCRATCH–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly-released contemporary M/M romance from Jay Northcote. STARTING FROM SCRATCH is the fifth book in the Housemates series of New Adult romances set in Bristol, England. I’ve read and enjoyed every one of them, and am always ecstatic when a new one comes out. STARTING FROM SCRATCH is more poignant to me, as a reader, because it features a transgender male character–very well informed by the author’s life experiences. In a time when TG issues are being wholesale discarded by legislators in the US, it’s fantastic to get authentic stories about everyday characters who are trans.

About the book:
Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he’s committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

Although this book is part of the Housemates series, it has new main characters, a satisfying happy ending, and can be read as a standalone.

My Review:
Ben is a twenty-five year old transman returning to uni following three years off to undergo trans treatment and surgery. He shares a house with five other guys–out-gay and bisexual men from earlier book in the series–but hides his trans identity, living as a man. It’s fascinating being inside Ben’s head–his fear that he’s not being honest, but also fearing that revealing his history will cause more trouble than he can manage.

Sid is a man wishing for a steady boyfriend. He’s not had any lasting relationships and wonders if he ever will. Meeting Ben while out with mutual friends seems like a perfect opportunity, but Ben rebuffs his overtures. Ben’s not down for a quickie, and doesn’t think he measures up to the standards Sid surely has. Thing is, Jude, their mutual friend, vouches for Sid–and that prompts Ben to reach out and build a friendship. That’s one of Ben’s big goals for the year, be more social and get over his insecurities. So they chat and text and get together for coffee. The more time they spend, the more invested they become. Ben’s nervous about revealing his chest scars–from top surgery–and his manbits are quite different from that of a cismale, but Sid’s not only compassionate, he’s intrigued with Ben for who he is–and their relationship grows openly and honestly.

I was floored by the detail and delicacy of the book. I’ve read a few trans novels and am always happy to learn more about this experience and the triumphs and challenges. The Housemates books are have lots of sexytimes–and there’s no exception here. The author does a great job of bringing Ben to life, and writing a love story that feels sensitive and sexy at the same time. It was easy to feel Ben’s insecurities–and those of Sid as well. He’s a wonderful character, who really investigates his own prejudices and if they pose a risk to Ben’s emotional well-being. I loved the vulnerability of both men, and how Sid doesn’t allow Ben to push him away when he makes a mistake or three. These guys are really interesting on their own, and their interactions with their housemates is as fun as always. Oh, Ben! He wasn’t a trusting sort, but Sid did win him over completely by the end.

Interested? You can find STARTING FROM SCRATCH on Goodreads and Amazon (US or UK).

The whole housemates series is fantastic–and all can be enjoyed as standalones.
Helping Hand (Book #1) Amazon (US or UK)
Like A Lover (Book #2) Amazon (US or UK)
Practice Makes Perfect (Book #3) Amazon (US or UK)
Watching and Wanting (Book 4) Amazon (US or UK)

About the Author:
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.

You can find Jay on his website, Twitter, Facebook Author Page, and Amazon.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

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Holiday Shorts!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing reviews for a few holiday-themed stories that will warm your hearts in this wintry season. FROSTBITTEN is a vampire menage, ANGEL VOICES is a New Adult M/M romance, and LOVE AND LATKES is a transgender romance. All of these are novellas, and have sweet themes of acceptance and new love.

frostbittenAbout FROSTBITTEN by Charlotte Stein:
Shy nurse Cora both dreads and lives for the moments she sees Zeke, an orderly at the hospital where she works. Zeke is too handsome, too compelling, too much, and seems totally unaware of Cora. But before she can bring herself to his attention, an explosion rips through the hospital Christmas party.

Zeke has noticed Cora—in fact, he’s so irresistibly drawn to her that he saves her from the explosion by turning her into a vampire, much to the jealousy and resentment of his partner, Merrick. Zeke hates being a vampire, and now that she’ll live, doesn’t want Cora to suffer his fate. If they can both resist the overwhelming instinct to bond, joining their bodies as Cora draws her maker’s blood, she might be able to return to her normal human life.

As Merrick uses every erotic trick to keep Zeke distracted from the blood passion, Cora becomes more and more drawn to both of her reluctant captors. And more and more happy to abandon her old life in exchange for an eternity with two hot immortal lovers. All she has to do is convince Merrick and Zeke that being a vampire isn’t all that bad.

Like FRECKLES and GLASS TIDINGS, FROSTBITTEN is also a part of the 2016 three book Holiday bundle offered every year by Riptide, and 20% of the proceeds are donated to The Trevor Project, which provides a suicide hotline and counseling assistance for LGBTQ teens, in particular, in crisis.

I’ve actually written a full review for FROSTBITTEN for Joyfully Jay, but I can tell you I really loved this MMF menage story. Zeke and Merrick are a couple, but Zeke and Cora seem to share a strong attraction. Zeke saves Cora from certain death when an explosion rocks their holiday party–by infecting her with a vampire virus. Merrick wants Cora to return to her human self, which she will if she doesn’t take blood from either Zeke or Merrick. Unfortunately, they’re all very attracted to each other. This is a really compelling, sensual read. Cora narrates the whole novella, and she’s clearly a vivid thinker. Plus, once she’s infected, her viewpoint becomes distorted and hazy, with a sing-song quality that lulled me along. I dug it. There’s a little bit of sex, in the middle and the end with M/M, M/F and MMF arrangements.

Find FROSTBITTEN on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance.

angel-voicesAbout ANGEL VOICES by Rowan Speedwell:
One frigid winter night a week before Christmas, college student Will stumbles into a church during choir practice, bruised by his own father’s hands. He’s out of the closet now — there’s no going back since his fundamentalist father learned the truth — but he’s also out of a home, a family, and a future. Will has nowhere to turn. No one to care.

Except . . . Will’s roommate, Quinn, cares. Maybe too much. He’s been attracted to Will since they moved in together, but never dreamed his crush was gay. With Will’s life in pieces, Quinn doesn’t want to push. He also knows he has more experience than Will, who’s never even been kissed.

Then Will’s father makes a reappearance, and Will has to learn to trust his heart more than the voices of his past. But it’s the season of miracles, faith, and hope, and Quinn is determined to teach Will how to love and be loved.

My Review:
Will is an 18 year old freshman attending his local college. When he returns to his home for the winter break his enraged father beats him nearly senseless and chucks him out into the cold, while his horrified mother watched. Will stumbles the eight miles back toward campus, dropping into a church to warm up. There he hears the choir practicing, and finds peace in his tumult.

He also finds his afro-Creole roommate, Quinn, who’s a tenor in the choir. Quinn had always thought his shy and reserved roomie was straight. Learning Will’s father assaulted him for being gay sets Quinn on a “rescue Will” mission. Quinn’s a sweet boy, whose family is large and supportive. He knows’ they’ll pitch in to help Will in whatever manner they can. With Will cut off from his family, they make plans to take him home to New Orleans for Christmas, and to seek out scholarship help if necessary.

Will, stunned that his roomie is gay, helpful, and attracted to him, allows Quinn to do his best–in all things. There’s a bit of steam, as Will experiences his first kiss–and more. He’s still shell-shocked over his father’s reaction, but it seems the rest of his family might just be okay with the gay. This is a Christmas romance novella, so everything happens kinda fast. I did love Quinn’s large and engaging family. They are all sweet, and wished I’d had more time to linger with them. I really enjoyed the interracial aspects here, and how inclusive it all felt.

While I’m a big fan of sexytimes, I kinda felt that happened a little fast, considering how injured Will was, and how little these guys really knew each other–despite being roomies. A little restraint would have gone a long way toward building some tension. That said, it’s a nice read, with some feel-good moments and what seems to be an HEA.

Interested? You can find ANGEL VOICES on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance.

love-and-latkesAbout LOVE & LATKES by BA Huntley
Allen’s day begins awful and rapidly turns into a living hell, leaving him without a job, without a car, without a phone, and without much hope that life will improve anytime soon. When friends urges him to bail on the city and come spend Hanukah with them, he agrees—and is glad he did when he meets Lucy.

My Review:
This is a short novella, just 32 pages, that has a diverse cast, with two gay men, and two transgender characters, a man and a woman, which I really loved. Allen tells this story of how his life seemingly turned to crap in one day. It was too compressed and too ridiculous to be believed, unfortunately. Still, Allen’s friend David, a pregnant transman, invites Allen to spend Hanukkah with David and his husband in Halifax.

While visiting, Allen meets Lucy, a transwoman, who Allen finds very attractive. They bond a bit over the few days they spend together. It’s a fresh start for Allen, it seems, which is nice, but a bit convenient. I didn’t like the beginning, because it seemed so implausible, but the parts once Allen got on the plane were decent. The Hanukkah bits were a side story, with the focus on Allen getting a new life and new love. I wished this was expanded, to allow for better character and conflict development. I liked the diversity, which was mostly unexpected considering the blurb. This is an okay read, good for a lunchtime diversion.

Interested? You can find LOVE & LATKES on Goodreads, Less Than Three Press and Amazon.

Thanks for popping in!

Be sure to comment on any holiday reads you’ve picked up this season, and how you liked them!

As always, keep reading my friends.

Surviving and Hoping with THE QUEER AND THE RESTLESS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a transgender mystery romance from Kris Ripper. THE QUEER AND THE RESTLESS is the third book in the author’s Queers of La Vista series, and brings the murder mystery discussed in GAYS OF OUR LIVES and THE BUTCH AND THE BEAUTIFUL onto the main stage. The featured couple is a trans-man, Ed, who falls for an adventurous lesbian woman.

qatrAbout the book:
Ed Masiello has been on testosterone for a year, is working his dream job as a reporter, and is finally passing as a man (so long as you don’t ask his abuela). But the investigation of a murder case is starting to take over his life. Afraid he’s becoming obsessed, he goes to the local club to relax, and meets the flighty, whimsical Alisha.

Alisha is a free spirit who’s tossed aside ambition for travel and adventure. Her approach to life is a far cry from Ed’s, and while Ed has always assumed that meeting his goals would make him happy, Alisha is much more content than him—despite all the plans she can’t yet fulfill.

As their relationship heats up, so does the murder case. Alisha thinks Ed needs a break, but someone’s got to find this killer, and he wants to be there when it all goes down. Besides, taking off into the great unknown with Alisha is crazy. But opting for what’s safe is just another way of living in fear, and Ed vowed to stop living like that a long time ago.

My Review:
This is the third book in a series, and probably best enjoyed when read in sequence, but it’s not mandatory.

Ed Masiello is a trans-man who lives in La Vista, CA, and works for the local newspaper as a low-level reporter. He really wants to write bigger pieces, but he’s young and new, and he’s stuck with fluff. It’s super frustrating because there seems to be a killer stalking the queer community in La Vista, and Ed thinks no one’s really making enough fuss. The best info is from an anonymous blogger named Togg, and that person’s really making the Queers of La Vista nervous.

While out blowing off steam at Club Fred’s, a known queer establishment, Ed bumps into a long-time acquaintance, Alisha. Alisha is fun and flirty and Ed doesn’t know how to take it. He’s always dated women, but he’s been transitioning for a year now, and his parts are changing due to the hormonal supplementation. Is he a novelty to Alisha, who he knows is lesbian? Or, is Alisha attracted to Ed as a man?

Short answer: she likes Ed.

They begin dating and it’s cool. Ed feels like this is great. A beautiful woman likes him, and they have satisfying sexytimes. Thing is, Alisha wants her life to be a grand adventure. Ed’s afraid to request time off from his job to travel. Plus, he’s getting super caught up in the investigation surrounding the La Vista killer–Ed’s the one who connects a seemingly-unrelated murder to the string–and verifies that all the victims were guests at Club Fred’s theme night parties. The whole queer community is in an uproar, and Ed’s obsession is having a toll on his budding romance.

I really like this series. It shifts the focus to different members of the queer community that may not have lots of fictional representation. I’ve read a few transitioning characters before, and Ed’s a good one. He’s struggling for acceptance on many fronts. His family is hostile to his transition, meanwhile he’s “passing” as male to people at work and his roommates–even if they pretty-much think he’s gay. Which is a conundrum for Ed. I had a few chuckles with the dude-bro roomies scenes, and their “advice” about dating women. There were some interesting sexytimes and I can only trust they are rather realistic, as I’ve not given a lot of scrutiny to TG persons and their bodies in transition. The author identifies as a trans-man, so that’s good enough cred for me.

This book brings the murder-mystery storyline of the series into the forefront. Previous to this we’d only heard of one murder, but the timeline fits as all these stories are not entirely sequential. There are many characters from the previous books brought back into the mix here, as a lot of the story occurs within Ed’s social sphere. He’s friendly with Jaq and Hannah from Book Two and also Dred from Book One. As killings continue, there’s an arrest, but that divides people even more. The accused is a fixture, and someone seemingly trusted by all. I will say, we’ll have to wait just a bit longer to find the true culprit. Good thing that Ed figures out the way to happiness is not through chasing smoke trails in the sky, but finding a partner who’s there for you, and loves you not only as you are, but also as you will be.

Interested? You can find THE QUEER AND THE RESTLESS on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a toddler, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and has no pronoun preference, but the z-based pronouns are freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.

Catch up with Kris on zir website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Rough Love ROLLER GIRL–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary F/F romance from Vanessa North. ROLLER GIRL is the third book in her Lake Lovelace series, which includes DOUBLE UP and ROUGH ROAD. The book features a transwoman finding strength, love and community.

Roller Girl (Lake Lovelace, #3)About the book:
Recently divorced Tina Durham is trying to be self-sufficient, but her personal-training career is floundering, her closest friends are swept up in new relationships, and her washing machine has just flooded her kitchen. It’s enough to make a girl cry.

Instead, she calls a plumbing service, and Joanne “Joe Mama” Delario comes to the rescue. Joe is sweet, funny, and good at fixing things. She also sees something special in Tina and invites her to try out for the roller derby team she coaches.

Derby offers Tina an outlet for her frustrations, a chance to excel, and the female friendships she’s never had before. And as Tina starts to thrive at derby, the tension between her and Joe cranks up. Despite their player/coach relationship, they give in to their mutual attraction. Sex in secret is hot, but Tina can’t help but want more.

With work still on the rocks and her relationship in the closet, Tina is forced to reevaluate her life. Can she be content with a secret lover? Or with being dependent on someone else again? It’s time for Tina to tackle her fears, both on and off the track.

My Review:
This is the third book in the Lake Lovelace series and features a trans-female character and a F/F romance. It can be enjoyed on its own.

Tina Durham was a professional wakeboarder who married young, before she could articulate that she was really a woman. This came as a surprise to her wife, and ended their marriage once Tina’s transition became complete. Tina now works as a personal trainer, and struggles with social anxiety, afraid that she’ll be assailed by transphobic people.

Tina meets Joanne “Joe” Delario when she responds to Tina’s frantic call for a plumber. They hit it off, and Tina accepts Joe’s invitation for a drink. Tina’s a bit disappointed when Joe uses the meeting to ask Tina to try out for her roller derby team. Tina’s never played, but the idea of competing again is attractive, and the derby is trans-friendly. She agrees, even if it means not pursuing a relationship with Joe; Joe has a no-dating policy for her team, due to a previous problem with it all going bad. Tina likes the idea of a girl-bonding experience, and she does well at the first try-out.

Despite their intentions, Joe and Tina begin a physical relationship. They’re really too attracted to each other; and Tina hasn’t been with anyone since her divorce. Their interactions are steamy, and affirming. But Tina doesn’t want to be a secret, and doesn’t understand why she should be: other women on the team are dating. It’s Joe’s hang up, and it causes Tina a lot of pain, especially because she’s dealt with secrets most of her life.

I liked the story here. I’ve read a few lesbian romances, and a few trans ones, too. I love the diversity I saw on the page, and Tina’s positive experiences. As a transitioned former pro-athlete, she becomes a bit of a sensation for her team, garnering news coverage. It leads to some great experiences for her with fans in transition. That was really sweet. I also liked her professional persona, and how compassionate she was with her favorite training client, and all her uplifting moments with despairing teammates. That was great. On the flip side, the time frame didn’t match up with the pacing, for me, so the romance felt a bit rushed. Also, the “no dating”/secret dating policy didn’t work for me as a conflict. It felt like a false choice, and brought in unnecessary drama. There were likely other issues that could have kept Joe and Tina separate, that would have had more emotional punch, so that fell a little short, for me.

In all, I expected that Ms. North would write a F/F story that would be filled with heat and heart, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m not a fan of roller derby, and have about zero interest in it, personally, but those scenes were clear enough that an ignorant reader like myself could follow along, and feel the tension of the team, and Tina’s emotional investment. When I consider adult recreational sports, most are co-ed. Roller derby initially seemed an odd choice, but I understood it, because it was an activity that was exclusively female, and accessible to novice non-athletes. Any other type of sport would have likely been closed-off for Tina, or her less athletic teammates. The friendships, and team dynamics, that Tina explores in the course of the story really helps to pull her loose from her social anxiety, as does her relationship with Joe. For a character who’s growth arc was already enormous before she appeared on the page, Tina still found ways to expand her life and find unexpected happiness.

Interested? You can find ROLLER GIRL on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

Vanessa NorthAbout the Author:
Author of over a dozen novels, novellas, and short stories, Vanessa North delights in giving happy-ever-afters to characters who don’t think they deserve them. Relentless curiosity led her to take up knitting and run a few marathons “just to see if she could.” She started writing for the same reason. Her very patient husband pretends not to notice when her hobbies take over the house. Living and writing in Northwest Georgia, she finds her attempts to keep a quiet home are frequently thwarted by twin boy-children and a very, very large dog.

You can catch up with Vanessa on her website, Goodreads, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Finding One’s Self–FIERY

Fiery-Banner
Hi there! I’m getting the word out about a newly-released contemporary YA romance with a transgender main character. FIERY from Alyssa Astra is sure to push the boundaries. It sounds so interesting!

fiery1400About the book:
Aiden Adams, a transgender teen, begins writing in a journal when he moves to a new town named Ashmore and begins “passing.” He is counting on everyone to believe that he is the every bit the male he appears to be. Writing in his journal helps him unclog his brain as he writes about the daily struggles he faces as a transgender teenager, his painful past that he is trying to forget, the new friends he is making, and the beautiful girl named Abby whom he has fallen in love with. Aiden has already come out to his open-minded mother, but will Abby be just as understanding?

When Aiden loses his journal, he worries that the secret he is trying so desperately to keep will come out. And if it does, how will everyone react? Will Abby be able to cope with everyone knowing that he is transgender? Will his new friends accept Aiden for who he really is—a boy—or will everything fall apart?

A tasty morsel…

The beautiful eyes belong to the beautiful girl from the library. The one I notice every day for one reason or another. The one I sketched on a page in my journal. I’m such a creep.
“Hi,” she says loudly.
I take out my earbuds and turn off my radio that’s still in my pocket. “Hi,” I say back.
She’s on one knee to be eye-level with me, but she spins and sits down beside me, really close. Wait a minute…
SHE’S GOT ON THE COOLEST BOOTS!
They’re shiny black leather and they go up to her knees. The bottom of them is a three-inch platform, all clunky and sexy—I mean cool. She has black skinny jeans tucked into them.
“I just wanted to make sure you were alive,” the girl says. “Why are you all the way over here, by yourself?”
“I don’t know anyone,” I admit.
She holds out her right hand. “I’m Abby Abernathy.”
I grasp her hand. Handshakes are always awkward. Her hand is really warm or mine is really cold.
“I’m Aiden Adams.”
“Nice to meet you—now you know someone.” She smiles.
“I guess I do.”

Interested? You can find FIERY on Amazon, Amazon UK, All Romance eBooks, and Torquere Press.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win an e-copy of FIERY.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the author:
Alyssa Astra lives in a mildly haunted house in North Carolina. She started writing stories by hand in high school. Now she types them. When she is not writing she spends her free time attempting art and listening to music.

You can find Alyssa online on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Deviant Art and Tumblr.
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Not Comfortable IN HER SKIN–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a YA book from Trina Sotira, an author a met a few weeks ago at a book signing. IN HER SKIN introduces us to Tirzah/Troy a male-identifying transgender teen, who desperately wants to find love with his best friend, Heidi.

Now, please, I am no expert on transgender issues. If anything, I am sympathetic and wish to understand more. I admit naivete to transgender persons in my childhood, but watched BOYS DON’T CRY in my twenties. The poignancy of the pain of discrimination, the brutality, and the lack of connection chilled me.

Over the years, because I embrace human equality as a concept, I found myself without qualms whenever faced with transgender issues in the media and my own life. Earlier this year I watched the moving Youtube presentation of Ryland Whittington and began to realize that transitioning children seem to know very early on that they are in the WRONG body, and swift parents can be a real help to their kids–perhaps save their lives.

Last year one of the contestants for Miss Universe was a TG woman, and there is a rise in androgenous and TG fashion models, most recently Andreja Pejic came out as a TG woman. So, slowly, TG persons are finding a place in society–I hope that mainstream acceptance will become the new normal soon, before more lives are lost.

In Her Skin
About the book:
Tirzah would do anything to cover up her girl body: duct taping her chest, dressing like a guy at the skate park, even changing her name. But two things are holding her back from transitioning into an all-male body: her best friend Heidi and a full-ride soccer scholarship. And when Heidi’s family disapproves of Tirzah’s transition into Troy, Heidi disappears.

College instructor and former television journalist Trina Sotira challenges religious, gender, and social boundaries in this fast-paced adventure filled with love, friendship, and self-discovery.

My Review:
Tirzah/Troy is a male-identifying TG teen in his senior year of high school. (It is my understanding that TG persons wish to be addressed by gendered pronouns to which they identify, so I will use the male, throughout.) He is a star soccer goalie with dreams of college, these dreams shared by his involved father. His mother doesn’t understand Troy’s dress–he’s not into the frilly pink designer stuff she wishes to lavish on her “daughter” but Tirzah/Troy rarely visits his mother, who happens to be a TV news anchor in Chicago.

Tirzah/Troy has a deep love for his best friend, Heidi, who is a Bengali girl in a deeply traditional Muslim family in the suburbs of Chicago. Heidi has more than a passing affection for Tirzah/Troy, but prefers to date wild American boys–including the party boy JC–against her parent’s expressed wishes. In fact, Heidi uses Tirzah/Troy as a shield–her parents see that Tirzah/Troy is a girl, even if “she” dresses oddly, so Heidi is allowed to spend time with “her”…at first.

Soon, Heidi’s escapades with JC cause big problems, not just with her parents. Tirzah/Troy desperately wishes to be a romantic part of Heidi’s life. There are hints that this happens, but Tirzah/Troy also knows that it will only occur in private–as Heidi and all his friends still see him as a girl. JC even threatens to “out” Troy as a girl to some skateboarding friends they share, in order to ensure Tirzah/Troy’s cooperation in dating Heidi on the down-low.

Tirzah/Troy is not alone, however. His baffled father is supportive, to some degree. Girls on his soccer team are also cool with his transition–one is REALLY cool with it. Tirzah/Troy invests more of himself into transitioning, but his “maleness” begins to worry Heidi’s parents, and that–coupled with Heidi’s lies about JC–leads to some serious problems in their friendship.

Despite bullying, and complete separation from his mother, Tirzah/Troy aims to move forward in his transition, meeting other TG persons and allies along the way. He even tries to see if his college scholarship will apply if he plays for the men’s soccer team.

This is a deeply emotional story, with well-researched characters and moments of extreme anguish to which any teen (regardless of gender/sexuality issues) can relate. In the end, all people wish to find love and acceptance in their lives–and Tirzah/Troy is no different. His love for Heidi drives him to deny himself for a long time, and he is still an amazing friend to her. Heidi is, herself, very conflicted with her love for Tirzah/Troy and her culture-clash as a “traditional” Muslim girl in “modern” American society.

It’s a positive story that I think TG kids will really enjoy. It suffered a little from being, perhaps, too rushed at the end. I really wondered what happened to Heidi, and if Tirzah/Troy should have gone to see her that one last time, but it ends with a boatload of hope and acceptance for Tirzah/Troy’s transition, for which I think readers will be happy. There are some instances of drug use, self-mutilation, and sexual experimentation, but it’s done well, and should be no issue for older teen readers.

Interested? You can find IN HER SKIN on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author:
A former television news producer and long-time member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators, Trina Sotira has spent over a decade writing for large audiences. Her academic work and Creative Writing studies have been featured at the Illinois Reading Council, Association for the Study of African American Life and History, SCBWI-Illinois, and ABC-7’s “Chicagoing.” She teaches Fiction Writing, Creative Writing, and Composition as a faculty instructor at College of DuPage under her dinosaur name: Trina Sotirakopulos.

You can find Trina on her website and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends! 🙂