Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Staying Her: A Transgender Romance by Holly Sharp

My goodness, what a delightfully refreshing read this was. It started as one thing, shifted into another, and ultimately revealed itself to be something else entirely. Although Staying Her does suffer from some of the exasperating aspects of the genre (I will touch on those in a minute), it was everything I could have asked for in a transgender romance.

My one stumbling point with Holly Sharp's tale is a level of superficial glitz-and-glamour more suited to soap operas than the romance genre. The opening chapters are quite literally all over the place, taking our characters from one exotic locale to another, and indulging in a free-wheeling party lifestyle of which most of us can only dream. I get the appeal, and I eventually settled in enough to make sense of it, but I found it a very jarring sort of introduction to her world.

That trope element aside, I loved the characters, and I really loved the slow, gradual development of the love triangle. James was a genuinely good guy, placed in an awkward sort of situation. Sure, he makes mistakes, and he could have been more open with those around him, but I appreciated the way he stumbled through navigating his emotions. Skye I had issues with, especially as her shallowness and selfishness became more and more apparent. Yes, she has her heart broken in an awkward fashion, but I never really liked her, and could see she was not the right partner for James. Kirsty, on the other hand, I absolutely adored. The way Sharp develops her character is fantastic, slowly taking her through an evolution of gender, friendship, identity, and love. She is a vulnerable soul, and I am sure many will find fault with her for inserting herself in a relationship, but you so desperately want her to be happy that it is a bit easier to make excuses in her situation.

There were times where I was not at all sure where the story was going, and the ending might seem a little too perfect, but this is a romance, and we all want our happily-ever-after. Staying Her is the most thoroughly enjoyable transgender romance I have come across in ages, and I am anxious to find time to reconnect with James and Kirsty again in Reckoning.

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