Review: Catt Ford – Cross My Heart

51duBY9I3gL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Author: Catt Ford
Reviewer: Ashley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: MM Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Summary: Do you believe in love at first sight?

Roland Reynolds—or Lana Renault, as she’s now known—knows that life is no fairy tale. Fortunately she has her trusted friends, nicknamed “the dwarfs,” to keep her company. She lives her life to the fullest while keeping what’s beneath her skirt to herself.

American painter Daniel Hunter is no stranger to adversity either, and it’s left him with not only strength but secrets. Unlike Lana, he remains aloof, content to observe life and beauty from the sidelines… until the first time their eyes meet on a crowded Paris street.

Cupid’s arrow finds its mark in Daniel, but while Lana longs for romance, she knows there’s no prince in her happy ever after. If their story is to have a fairy-tale ending, Daniel will have to convince Lana to let down her walls—and, in the process, reveal what he fears sharing the most.

Review: Daniel is a man with a past that he wants to run from and forget, who one day sees a woman who inspires him as no one has in a long time. Lana has had a difficult life and after nothing but rejections love isn’t something she thinks she can have. So when she is followed by a strange man, she can only assume the worst. After a shaky start, Daniel’s persistence finally wins Lana over, though it does nothing to convince her friends. They do some digging into Daniel’s past and what they find may ruin the new relationship Daniel and Lana have.

This was the most authentic trans/genderqueer novel I’ve read to date. Lana specifies in the book that she prefers not to choose a label, which I thought was interesting. I was glad it came up since the pronouns used for her sometimes are male he/his and the explanation that she’s not extremely attached to one set of pronouns helped a lot. Lana and Danial were both fun, complex, and wonderful characters whose troubled pasts made they’re happily ever after all the better. I loved the evolution of Daniel and Lana’s relationship, too. While I’m not usually a fan of love at first sight, in this case I liked how it panned out. And Lana’s initial reluctance makes so much sense, since violence against transwomen is all too common and her own personal history would make her very suspicious of a man’s interest. But once she came to trust Daniel (and I do think he worked for and deserved that trust) their relationship was sweet, fun, and hot.

Now, I did have a few problems with this book. Lana’s attitude, where she’s defensively independent and untrusting, makes sense but does get a touch annoying at times. It was a hair too much for a work of fiction to be entertaining. But she was nothing to her friend Dom. He was SO annoying. His obsession with Lana, to the point of heartlessly attempting to ruin the first successful relationship his friend had ever had was horrible. It’s one thing to be worried initially (violence against her being a real concern) but after she had accepted Daniel he should have been less of a jerk about forcing Daniel’s past into her face. It all turned out well (which I was SO thankful for) but Dom never redeemed himself in my eyes. But in the end, all of these slight annoyances were outweighed by Lana and Daniel’s happy ending. They had the last third of the book to talk to each other about their pasts and to figure out their relationship, which was amazing. Usually books will end after they kiss and make up, but we got to see so much more here and I appreciated that.

I highly recommend this book! If you’re looking for a strong trans character who has a good healthy relationship, this is the book for you. A warning, though, is that this book does talk about violence and near death experiences.

 

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