Memories, by Valentina Heart
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (June 3, 2015)
Page Count: approx. 80 pages (18,000 words)
Summary: When Marlin comes home one night, she is greeted by the sight of her man, Gabe, spread out on the bed waiting for her. Accepting all the love he has to offer has been a long process, but recounting all it took to get where they are is a reminder that every step was worth it.
Warnings: mentions of rape, suicide, and transphobia
Over the period of one night, Marlin and Gabe recount how they met and the events that led them to where they are at present. It’s a lovely story, with a ton of steamy sex scenes mixed in, and throughout the novel there’s no doubting Gabe’s love of Marlin, and Marlin’s love of Gabe.
Marlin is a trans woman who has led a rough life until a chance encounter with Gabe in a bar one night. He’s the first person to accept and love her for who she is, and to love every inch of her body. As they celebrate their anniversary together, Marlin finally opens up about some of the darker moments in her past, including her abusive and transphobic parents, while Gabe shows her just how loved she is now.
“Do you remember the night we first met? You out-danced every other person on the floor that night,” he said affectionately. (ePub page 12)
This is a short novella, but packed with emotion and beauty. It’s the story of two people who are madly in love and who have overcome obstacles to be the people they are today. And Heart doesn’t pull any punches; some of the flashbacks are gritty and violent, and they shape Marlin as a character.
There are a few disappointments here, though. The biggest one is that I don’t think this novella was proofed by an editor. There were several typos and grammar mistakes, which yanked me out of the narrative. The opening scene was also incredibly flowery and imagery-laden; I actually stopped reading it twice before finally diving in. The rest of the novel wasn’t quite as sugar-coated, but the over-abundance of pet names seemed a bit too much.
Still, I really enjoyed this story. I think Marlin was a beautiful, relatable character, and Gabe was her supportive (and goofy and caring) lover, and together they made a beautiful pair.