Monday, February 19, 2018

Butterfly by Lisabet Sarai (#transsexual #romance)

Although it always makes my stomach churn when stories like this get to the character's transphobic moment of self-doubt and self-disgust, Lisabet Sarai does a lovely job of coming to that point, and an even better job of transitioning out of it. It does not make the words or the sentiments any easier to hear, especially when you have come to like a character, but that honesty is important.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Butterfly is the story of Pat, an engineer from the Bible Belt of America, on assignment in Thailand. He is fond of neither strip clubs nor prostitutes, but agrees to accompany one of his coworkers to "the real Bangkok," where he finds himself instantly infatuated with a dancer by the name of Lek. It's a sweet sort of romance that is kindled between them, and their erotic encounters are delicious. It is a personal relationship, not a professional one, and that makes the pain that much more intense when the club's mamasan betrays Lek's secret.

I loved the fact that Lek is presented as a transsexual woman, surgically transitioned, and completely indistinguishable from any cisgender woman. When you hear Asian Adventure and Bangkok, you expect a ladyboy representation, so that was wonderful. Back to where we started, Pat does not deal well with the news, says some horrible things, and drives a wedge between them - even though it is clear Lek still loves him with all her heart. I do not feel I am betraying any developments or spoiling any surprises when I say this is a romance, complete with a happily ever after, but Lisabet Sarai does not make it easy on us or her characters. There is a lot of soul searching and self-loathing to be dealt with, but it is because it gets so dark that we can appreciate it at its brightest.
A dozen years ago Lisabet Sarai experienced a serendipitous fusion of her love of writing and her fascination with sex. Since then she has published two single author short story collections and six erotic novels, including the classic RAW SILK. Dozens of her shorter works have been released as ebooks and in print anthologies. She edited the acclaimed anthologies SACRED EXCHANGE and CREAM and is currently responsible for the altruistic erotica series COMING TOGETHER PRESENTS. In addition, she reviews erotica and erotic romance for the Erotica Readers and Writers Association and Erotica Revealed websites. Lisabet holds more degrees than anyone needs from prestigious universities who would no doubt be embarrassed by her chosen genre. She loves to travel and currently lives in Southeast Asia with her highly tolerant husband and two cosmopolitan felines.

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