Review: Francis Gideon – Hopeless Romantic

Author: Francis Gideon
Reviewer: Lucy
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: MM Transgender

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Summary: 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.

Review: I know there may be a lot I’m missing in regards to the serious transgender issues of this book, but what I got out of it was a learning experience. Nick is a gay man who just wants the romantic trope of his favorite rom-coms. He wants to woo, be wooed, be in love and do all the silly, funny firsts that happen with a true partner. So he’s confused when he meets the beautiful Katie, because he’s never considered being with a woman, but he wants to get to know Katie. They bond over a love of music and movies and I loved the references, because I got them! I rarely watch movies now but as a teen I watched a ton and so I know those movies!

Katie has safety protocols in place, she suffers through having people knock her bookbag over and she’s skittish. Nick figures the issue is that he’s never really paid attention to how women act, though he brings up parallels of his sister and her friends. It is only when Katie reveals, having assumed Nick already knew, that she is transgender.

I wondered about his perception because he immediately identifies Katie as a woman. He has no idea she might be transgender, which is why he is confused about his own sexuality, having never been attracted to a woman before. However, as the story progresses it appears that Katie is addressed as “he”, “gentleman” and is often mistaken for a man. So I’m not sure if that was done to bring home the difficulties Katie has or not.

What I did appreciate about this is that Nick, while he made mistakes and sometimes said things without thinking that would upset Katie, tried to find out what he could and tried to understand Katie. He asked questions, he checked out google and he tried. “Most people carry around silent expectations about what a relationship is supposed to mean, but they rarely express it out loud.” That comes from Nicks’ roommate, Tucker, who is Ace and has what he needs from a relationship right now in the form of his platonic friendship with Nick.

There are things Nick has to adjust to – bra hooks being one of them – but he’s trying. He’s hit a rough spot financially, with his car needing work and so he can’t wine and dine Katie as he would like. A house sitting gig and a realization that he doesn’t have to be the one who gives everything in a relationship help their romantic cause.

As does Katie’s ability to be honest with him about expectations and what will be. “There is no magical transformation at the end of this. If you continue to see me, this is not going to be like the trans stories you see on TV.” Katie has great friends who support her and she will settle for nothing less than a partner who will support her too. Again, yes, Nick makes mistakes. When he is offended that Tucker might think Nick is trans, I was glad Katie wasn’t there to see it. Katie does what she can to educate him and for his part, Nick supports her nervousness about meeting new people. I came away thinking these two really did have a chance.

This is a very sweet story that has little angst but a lot of thought provoking aspects. I would say, for a hopeless romantic the epilogue was perfect.



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