Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book CoverStevie‘s review of Sweet Boy and Wild One by T.L. Hayes
Contemporary Transgender and Lesbian Romance published by Bold Strokes Books 15 Aug 17

Romance stories with a trans* hero or heroine are still relatively rare, more so when those stories challenge other characters’, and at least some readers’, preconceptions about identity and sexuality, This book sets out to do just that, with the story of a lesbian who falls for a transman.

Rachel is a graduate student living in university accommodation and sharing a corridor with a group of her friends, most of whom are also lesbians like her. When she goes out to an open mic night at her favourite lesbian-run coffee shop, Rachel has high hopes of hooking up with an attractive woman, and is intrigued by someone she assumes to be a butch lesbian sitting at a nearby table. The object of Rachel’s interest turns out to be an accomplished singer, and the pair introduce themselves to each other at the end of the set. Bobby, however, is not quite the person Rachel had taken him for.

Bobby has struggled since his transition, mostly because his parents have disowned him, but also because of prejudice and hostility he has faced from both the straight and lesbian communities. When Rachel turns down his offer of a date, he is angry that she’s just like all the rest, especially since she seemed interested in him at first, but then she agrees to give him a chance after all. The two work their way tentatively towards a relationship, encouraged by Bobby’s brother, whom he lives with, but against open hostility from Rachel’s dorm-mates. Fortunately Rachel has some lesbian allies, albeit ones now living further away, in the shape of her best friend – and former classmate – who entered into a relationship with one of their professors, necessitating the couple to move to a new town. She is also supported by her new professor, who encourages Rachel to follow her heart and not listen to those who believe that people and opinions should stay fixed and narrow.

It’s not always easy for Bobby and Rachel, even with such a strong network cheering them on. Bobby, in particular, faces hate-related crime and violence. In the end, though, their relationship is stronger than the words and blows of others, and there is the hope of reconciliation with at least some of those who initially shunned them.

I found this book a little slow going at times, and it wasn’t one that stood out for me as a great encouragement to read the author’s other works. I am very pleased, however, to see the continued widening of what counts as LGBT romance in the world of publishing.

Stevies CatGrade: C


Graduate student Rachel Cole is feeling the weekend blues and heads to her favorite lesbian hangout, looking for Ms. Right Now. She is immediately attracted to a brown-haired, brown-eyed, flannel-wearing soulful singer named Bobby Layton. But when Bobby introduces himself to Rachel, Rachel questions things about herself—things like her own sexuality and her very identity. Could she be falling for this sweet boy?

Bobby Layton lost a lot when he came out as trans. And he’s sworn off dating lesbians because dealing with hate from the straight world is hard enough. Who needs the drama? But something about wild girl Rachel Cole keeps him coming back.

Love may be enough to take them to unexpected places beyond their expectations.

Read an excerpt.