Author: Marshall Thornton
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Queeny cocktail waiter, Lionel, wakes up to find himself in bed with Dog, a straight-acting softball player and the two embark on a rocky road to romance. A journey that requires coming out of the closet, going into the closet, a pair of red high heels, many pairs of red high heels, a failed intervention, a couple of aborted dates, and homemade pom-poms. Mostly, Lionel and Dog learn what it means to be a man.
Femme is wild and witty and stuffed with heartfelt, heartwarming, and yes, a few heartbreaking moments. It a fun book to read. I don’t often get to say that so I’ll repeat—it’s FUN to read! I would go so far as to say that every MM romance reader should have this on their shelf to grab on a rainy, cloudy, or snowy day, or on one of those days that are just craptastic.
Most people who follow my reviews also know I’m a huge fan of Joel Leslie. In fact, if this were forty years ago, I’d be president of his fan club, sending out autographed glossies to other rapt fans. Granted, he wouldn’t have been born yet, but my imagination soars. Anyway, my point is that he’s extremely talented, and his vocalizations always seem to be exactly what I would have hoped for in a character. In this case, the highly effeminate and flamboyant Lionel has the voice that embodies his persona and had me laughing along when he had to get a job by pretending to be a straight guy. Along the way it occurred to me that actors not only vocalize their role, they portray it, complete with appropriate clothing and gestures, and those who do a superb job become the character. To me, an outstanding voice actor therefore needs to do the same, but the audience is hampered by lack of visual imagery so the voice actor has to bring it all to life in our imagination. Joel Leslie does this. Every time. He’s not the only one, mind you. He just happens to be the one I’ve recently review frequently, and that’s likely because he does stories from less well-known authors that I haven’t previously discovered. His performance impresses me. Their writing style and storytelling ability then comes through, and I’ve found a new author to follow. I don’t know why I haven’t read Marshall Thornton previously, but he’s on my radar now.
The story is delightful and told in alternating POVs—Lionel, and his soon-to-be boyfriend, Dog, or Doug as his birth family calls him. Dog is a macho-type guy, keeping his straight persona firmly in place as he reserves room in the back of the closet so he can jump back in any time his parents contact him. Granted, he’s playing softball with an all-gay team. His dad doesn’t need to know that, just like his dad doesn’t need to know he likes men. Unfortunately, this leads to not one, but two aborted dates with Lionel, because when Dog spots his family, he ditches Lionel, at first in a fancy restaurant, and another time in the movie theater.
With all that going on, why would Lionel want to hide his greatness under Dog’s dull light? He came out of the closet years ago and now only keeps his collection of clothing and high-heeled shoes and sandals in there. The struggle Doug faces is real and it’s interesting that the author was able to keep Doug’s emotions valid and yet be able to portray so much humor in both his avoidance of the issue of coming out and in his attempts to build a relationship with Lionel.
The audiobook isn’t too long—about six hours or so—but it’s six hours of pure, unadulterated enjoyment. Don’t miss a chance for a smile or outright belly laugh. Pick this up.