The State of Texas hasn’t been very friendly to trans folks for a long time, but right now the current Governor and the most recent Legislature are actively hostile. They are targeting trans kids and their families, threatening to charge adults who support their non-binary and trans kids with child abuse. But this review isn’t about those goons. This review is about the four people who make up HEAs for Trans Kids and the authors who donated their books to raise money to support trans kids in states where the state is trying to eradicate them. As the HEA admins say:
Trans kids deserve to be protected so they can grow into beautiful, strong trans adults, regardless of where or how they live. Thank you for helping us fund The Campaign for Southern Equality so they can continue their amazing work helping trans folks live full, authentic, joyful lives.
This is why I read romance. In a world where policy decisions are made in governments and corporations with cruelty as the point, I need these books to remember that there are sparks of kindness, love and compassion.
All of these books can be yours for a minimum donation of $25 through Act Blue. All of the proceeds (100%) go to the Campaign for Southern Equality Trans Youth Emergency Fund. The campaign runs through October 3rd. If you aren’t a romance reader please share this with someone who is. The Tasty Treats anthology is a bundle of 13 books with the theme of food. I have previously read and reviewed some of them, some were on my TBR, and some were completely new to me.
The Duke Who Didn’t – Courtney Milan
This is one of my favorite books of the last couple of years. It gave me one of the my favorite lines from a romance. “I like all your worst qualities.” SWOON!!!! Six words, but gets right to the fears of every “difficult” person, will we be loved for all of who we are? It also has one of my all time favorite “there’s only one bed” scenes. From my original review, “This book is about joy and belonging and community, but mostly sheer joy.”
Coffee Boy – S.A. (Austin) Chant
Coffee Boy has been recommended to me by so many people that I became somewhat resistant to reading it. I am dumb. It had some dynamics I don’t usually like – intern and boss, but done so well I fell in love. This is another one that’s going to get a longer review soon. It’s lovely. Kieran is a trans man who has just started interning on a political campaign. He’s not happy that he’s constantly misgendered. Seth is older and grumpy, but works on making the office a friendlier place for Kieran. Where this book shines is Kieran’s jaundiced and perceptive eye and the grumpy meets grumpy sparring between Kieran and Seth. It’s just fantastic.
The Opposite of Drowning – Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese
This is my first time reading this writing duo and I am kicking myself for it. Harry is a writer and editor who hates his publishing job and has been confronted with the impending death f one of his best friends (fuck cancer!). Eliza manages social media marketing at the publishing house where Harry works, and is happilyish engaged to a man running for office. They meet at the Frakfurt Book Fair and start off on weird footing with each other. This passage from early in the book took me from intrigued to in love: “As she set her book in her lap, leaned back, and closed her eyes, she was suddenly aware of Harry. Not the sound of him shifting in his seat or the warmth of him so close to her. But rather the very idea of him existing in the world, as if, with her eyes closed, she could see him – and his strange amusement with her – better than she could with her eyes open.” At some point soon I’m going to give this lovely book it’s own review and dig into the duos back list.
This one had so many great lines I called a friend and read them to her. That’s what friends are for, to listen to your insane delight about things they don’t care about at all.
Sugar and Spice – Eli Wray
I reviewed Eli Wray’s delightful trio of holiday romance novellas centered on trans and non-binary characters back in 2020. Sugar and Spice brought to mind O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi”, but celebrating the act of caring for another rather than the act of sacrificing. Mason and Nathalie are classmates who are each secretly pining for the other. Eli Wray is a fantastic author with a gift for communicating the liminal space his characters occupy – in the process of becoming themselves, moving from infatuation to love, existing in a society that refuses to see them.
Wrapped – Rebekah Weatherspoon
I read and never reviewed this holiday novella. Rebekah Weatherspoon is a guaranteed good read, and this is one of her spicy reads. Shae Kenny is a recently divorced pastry chef and bakery owner. Bowing to pressure from friends, she puts herself on a dating app. While at dinner with her girlfriends, she sees Aiden (a former co-worker) as a possible match and swipes right. He was always attracted to her, but she was married. This is a wonderful friendly acquaintance to lovers romance. Wrapped has Weatherspoon’s trademark great friend groups, men who like women, and finding lust and love in an anxiety filled world. I was really happy to revisit this one, it’s a shame I didn’t review it the first time around.
The Ultimate Pi Day Party – Jackie Lau
I read and reviewed this in 2019 (one of my first Jackie Lau books!), but my review focused on reproductive rights, another cause near and dear to my heart. I’m a huge fan of bodily autonomy. The Ultimate Pi Day Party is a classic Jackie Lau romance with characters struggling with family, trying to forge their own paths, and enjoy all the glorious food of Toronto while falling in love. Lau centers the romance around Josh’s plan to win his father’s approval with a Pi Day party featuring pies from Sarah’s Happy as Pie shop. I fully support all Pi Day/Pie Day crossover celebrations.
Baker Thief – Claudie Arseneault
I read this delightful fantasy not-a-romance adventure a few years ago and never reviewed it. Adèle is the new police captain in town and one night she discovers a thief in her room stealing the gem that provides light and energy. The thief gets away, but as Adèle investigates, she discovers the thief has good reason to steal the gems. Arseneault uses romance conventions to explore the power and intimacy of non-romantic relationships.
Advanced Physical Chemistry – Susannah Nix
This one starts with Penny discovering yet another boyfriend is cheating on her. This leads her to evaluate how she relates to men. She’s confused when Caleb, the hot barista starts talking to her, and then in a moment of stress kisses her. This one has a great friend group, excellent banter, and a cinnamon roll masquerading as a hunk. I really enjoyed this and plan to read more of Susannah Nix’ back catalogue.
Unexpected Departure – Shannon O’Connor
An angsty first person narrated romance. Riley is a mess, and it’s clear early on that her awful girlfriend is a big part of that mess. Thought this is only 159 pages, Riley moves from “oh, honey, no” to “yes, girl, get it” when she starts standing up for herself as much as she stands up for others. There’s a nice spot of therapy that really makes her growth arc work.
Piece of Cake – Valentine Wheeler
This is a nice little novella featuring characters in their 60s, and age group that doesn’t get a lot of love in romance. Richard’s daughters are worried about him because he is a widower and he has retired. They na him into taking a class at the senior center. He decides to take a beginner’s cooking class and there meets Alan Li, who is also a community theater director. It’s really nice to be reminded that we grow and learn and fall in love no matter our age. Very low angst. Another new to me author I’ll be reading more.
Autumn Kisses – Reina M. Williams
Frankie has been secretly crushing on Melody forever. He gets to spend time with her when they both work on a festival, and then when her awful ex rolls into town, a fake dating scenario brings them closer together. Both are artists and struggle with family expectations and conflict. It’s a sweet story with a nice cast of friends and family.
Truth, Love and Sushi – Stacey Agdern
Truth, Love and Sushi asks, “what if some of the children of an awful president were good people willing to take down their father?” Carolyn approaches Max with information that could take down her father, but isn’t quite sure she can trust him. I love that they put the good of others before their own comfort. It’s short and sweet.
Lunchtime Sex – Missy Jane
This was the only book I bounced off of. Nick pursues Genie knowing that she doesn’t know he is friends with her son. Genie’s already uncomfortable having a relationship with him because of the age difference. After mainlining seven books, I didn’t have the bandwidth to move past my discomfort.
Let me say again, this bounty can be yours for a minimum donation of $25 through Act Blue. All of the proceeds (100%) go to the Campaign for Southern Equality Trans Youth Emergency Fund. The campaign runs through October 3rd. Not only is this a good and worthy cause, it is necessary. And in this case, you get books. As the Tenth Doctor says, “Books are the best weapons in the world.”