Hopeless Romantic, by Francis Gideon
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: April 10, 2017
Nick Fraser is a true romantic. He wants the guy instead of the girl, but other than that, he wants everything his favorite rom-coms depict: the courtship, the passionate first kiss, the fairy-tale wedding. But after breaking up with the love of his life, Nick wonders if anything fairy-tale will ever happen for him.
Then he meets Katie, who’s just like a rom-com heroine. She’s sharp, funny, sweet, and as into music and punk culture as Nick is. What’s more, he’s incredibly attracted to her—even though she’s a woman. Nick has never considered that he might be bisexual, but his feelings for Katie are definitely real.
When Katie reveals that she’s transgender, Nick starts to see how much he doesn’t understand about the world, queer identity, and himself. He is hopelessly in love with Katie, but this isn’t a fairy tale, and Nick’s friends and family may not accept his new relationship. If he wants it all, he has to have the courage to make his fantasy a reality.
Trans Character/Trans Woman
Asexual Secondary Character
Content Warning for:
Mention of Past Addiction
Trigger warnings for transphobia and acephobia.
It’s funny how some reviews write themselves and sometimes it is really hard. I guess, if Hopeless Romantic wasn’t a book with a trans character by a known to me author, I wouldn’t have picked it up, because contemporary romance usually doesn’t appeal to me that much. Or well, at least not all the books all the time 😉 I liked reading this story, though. It is sweet and romantic, takes its time to develop the characters and their love. I appreciate that there’s no unnecessary angst here and issues get resolved quickly and reasonably. The book also plays with the theme of being hopelessly romantic and finds a nice balance between cheesy classical romance tropes and defying those, on the other hand.
In the past, I feel it has been easier for me as a cis reader to review books with trans characters because they were mostly books that had cool trans characters doing cool stuff but weren’t as focused on being trans as this book. I will still give you my impression on the portrayal of transness in this book, but please also look for reviews by other (trans) readers.
I should mention that several characters in the book react in a transphobic way towards Katie and some readers may find that triggering. There is both open hostile transphobia by one of Nick’s friends that was really vile and the book also shows how Nick himself, while battling with his own identity, fucks up pretty badly. I’m quoting Katie’s reaction towards it here, which will additionally give you a glimpse into her character.
“And I’m not going to say that I am kind of like a guy so you can feel more secure being gay and having this attraction towards me. That’s not my fault.”
“Identify however you want—bisexual, gay with an exception, or even straight, I don’t care. But don’t fit me into a box that’s labeled as male just to make yourself feel better. Because I won’t have it.”
Nick definitely isn’t the perfect educated character who does no wrong. It didn’t bother me, however, because I saw that he wants to do right and learn, and that he actually does, but other readers may, of course, have different reactions to it.
I thought it was odd how quickly Nick excuses his friend’s transphobia later on in the book, though. He just assumes the best and lets it go, which I wasn’t ready to do, if at all. I would have liked to see more cause for his forgiveness and think this was missing.
I am really not sure why the plot developed in such a way that Katie (highlight for spoiler) didn’t attend the wedding. It seemed to me like a lazy cop-out, so the author didn’t have to write a confrontation or first meeting between Katie and Nick’s friends.
On the other hand, I liked that the trans character gets a happy ending and is portrayed in a loving and respectable way. That is something that really should not even be necessary that I mention, but I fear we’re not there yet. I also love that it becomes clear that there isn’t the one trans experience and that everyone is different, has different preferences and limits and so forth.
There’s also a secondary asexual character in the book, Tucker, Nick’s German Philosophy studying roommate, whom I adored. He has a loving platonic relationship with Nick and I liked reading about it. I want to add, though, that there is acephobia in the book, which might be problematic for some readers as well.
Nick added, “I may bring Tucker, my roommate. Would that be okay?”
“Roommate like . . .” Levi made a jerk-off motion.
Nick shook his head. “Pretty sure that man is asexual.”
“Not ew,” Nick said quickly. “Just different. He gets a lot of work done.”
I think it’s pretty easy to just hate on Levi (really, this guy, I want to punch him), but Nick here is our protagonist and when he reduces Tucker to a person who gets a lot of work done, it makes me cringe and is, to me, harder to deal with, since I’m supposed to root for him. Nick doesn’t know how to deal with his friend’s acephobia and transphobia and it takes a while for him to learn and get better at it.
The writing style, the pacing etc. is solid if nothing to shout out about. There are some funny, romantic, and sexy scenes that I really enjoyed and thought to be well done and, all in all, I had a nice time reading this book.
Francis Gideon is a nonbinary writer who dabbles in romance, mystery, fantasy, historical, and paranormal genres. Francis credits music, along with being an only child to a single mother, as why they write so much now. Long nights at home were either spent memorizing lyrics to pop-punk bands or reading voraciously. Add a couple of formative experiences in university, a network of weird artist friends, and after years of writing stories Francis never showed to anyone, they now have books to their name.
After receiving an MA in English literature, Francis wanted to do something a bit more fun. They soon found the LGBTQ romance community and fell in love on the spot. Since then, Francis has attempted to balance writing romances with as many different types of couples as possible while also attending school for their PhD. When not writing fiction or teaching university classes, Francis works on scholarly articles on everything from character deaths in the TV show Hannibal, the online archive of Canadian poet and artist P.K. Page, and transgender representation on YouTube. Francis is a middle name, used to keep students from Googling their teacher and asking far too many questions.
Francis lives in Canada with their partner, Travis, where they often spend nights disagreeing about what TV show to watch and making bad puns whenever possible. Travis receives dedications in Francis’s novels because he tolerates Francis’s long hours and listens to random story ideas late into the night. Francis also might be a bit of a hopeless romantic—as if you didn’t already guess.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.