Roller Girl, by Vanessa North
Series: Lake Lovelace #3
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: July 25, 2016
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Recently divorced Tina Durham is trying to be self-sufficient, but her personal-training career is floundering, her closest friends are swept up in new relationships, and her washing machine has just flooded her kitchen. It’s enough to make a girl cry.
Instead, she calls a plumbing service, and Joanne “Joe Mama” Delario comes to the rescue. Joe is sweet, funny, and good at fixing things. She also sees something special in Tina and invites her to try out for the roller derby team she coaches.
Derby offers Tina an outlet for her frustrations, a chance to excel, and the female friendships she’s never had before. And as Tina starts to thrive at derby, the tension between her and Joe cranks up. Despite their player/coach relationship, they give in to their mutual attraction. Sex in secret is hot, but Tina can’t help but want more.
With work still on the rocks and her relationship in the closet, Tina is forced to reevaluate her life. Can she be content with a secret lover? Or with being dependent on someone else again? It’s time for Tina to tackle her fears, both on and off the track.
Lesbian & Gay Characters
Vanessa North is my new go to author for when I’m in the mood for something positively delightful. I tore through the Lake Lovelace series. They’re all fairly quick so I ended up reading each book in one sitting, but that’s mostly because they kept getting better and better. There is so much attention to detail which I love because it’s important to me that I’m engaged outside of the romantic/relationship element. I felt that I was really able to grasp what wakeboarding and roller derby are all about, and it made me wish there was a derby league near me. The sport can be brutal but I bet it’s tons of fun too!
As if I wasn’t already in love with this book, there are fried pickles and a mention of the movie Before Sunrise. Hook, line, and sinker! ❤ I wanted to crawl inside the pages and watch the movie with them while munching on those sour delectables. This is when I know I’m really going to like what I’m reading. When I want to know more about the characters and could see myself hanging out with them if they were real. If I miss them when the book is over, that’s how I know it’s a five star rating for me.
A theme I’ve noticed in North’s books is that the characters tend to always have a positive outlook. Even when things aren’t going their way, they’re quick to work through it and see the good in the situation. I also identify with strong and independent female characters and there’s no shortage of them here.
I was excited for Tina when she takes a chance on stepping out of her comfort zone to try something new and meet new people. She’s recently divorced and retired from her career in wakeboarding so when Joe encourages her to try out for the local derby team I was so happy for her when she not only loved the sport, but found camaraderie and friendship with the badass girls on the team. Especially since she sees her close friends living their own happily ever afters.
“I envy him– it’s been a long time since I tried something new– but his excitement is contagious, and I can’t stay jealous. Instead, I bask in the sunshine with the company of my best friends in the world, and wonder what Joe is up to.”
I wasn’t sure about Joe at first. In fact, I didn’t know if she and Tina would be able to overcome their issues. For as brave as Tina is, putting herself out there and officially coming out as trans, I wanted to shake some sense into Joe because Tina deserves better. Thankfully their conflict was short lived because I wanted all the best for Tina. There’s a HFN ending but I felt pretty confident that these two will stand the test of time.
Something that really pulled at my heartstrings was the conversation Tina has with young Thomas. So many times when I’m reading queer books I often wonder the impression they would leave on younger readers who may or may not yet understand their own sexual identity. I was so moved by Tina’s acceptance and encouraging words that I had to stop reading or I would’ve been bawling. My rib cage could barely contain the swelling of my heart and I just wanted to hug them all.
So if you haven’t guessed already, I loved Roller Girl so very much. It can be read as a standalone but I recommend reading this entire wonderful series. Lake Lovelace is excellent and I will happily jump at every new book that is released.
Author of over a dozen novels, novellas, and short stories, Vanessa North delights in giving happy-ever-afters to characters who don’t think they deserve them. Relentless curiosity led her to take up knitting and run a few marathons “just to see if she could.” She started writing for the same reason. Her very patient husband pretends not to notice when her hobbies take over the house. Living and writing in Northwest Georgia, she finds her attempts to keep a quiet home are frequently thwarted by twin boy-children and a very, very large dog.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.