Author: Liv Rancourt
Publication Date: 1. March 2017
Rating: 3/5. Stars
Diversity: LGBT Characters
TW: racism, racist slurs, transphobia, transphobic violence, sexual assault, prostitution of young characters
Summary: Momma says a body reaps what they sow, and Clarabelle’s planted the seeds of trouble. The year is 1933, and not much else is growing in the Oklahoma dirt. Clarabelle’s gone and fallen in love with her best friend, so she figures it’s time to go out and see the world.
If she’s lucky, she’ll find the kind of girl who’ll kiss her back.
Clarabelle heads for New Orleans, and that’s where she meets Vaughn. Now, Vaughn’s as pretty as can be, but she’s hiding something. When she gets jumped by a pair of hoodlums, Clarabelle comes to her rescue and accidentally discovers her secret. She has to decide whether Vaughn is really the kind of girl for her, and though Clarabelle started out a dirt-farming Okie, Vaughn teaches her just what it means to be a lady.
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Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Clara is excited to have moved to New Orleans, or Sodom and Gomorrah as she calls it sometimes. Her preacher warned her about this city, so when she was outed she moves there and makes a living working in a night club. Her neighbor, a catholic woman, worries about her chastity but Clara does not want to be with men anyway. Vaughn is the prettiest girl Clara has ever seen and when she finally dares to approach her, their relationship blooms fast. But when Clara discovers Vaughn’s secret, she has to decide if she is truly ready for their relationship.
Clara is terribly hypocritical sometimes and I disliked her because of that quite a bit. I give her some leeway due to her upbringing and she does develop towards the end, but her constant complaining about how terrible other LGBT people are (two gay men??? kissing?? true sinners & obviously terrible people!!!) was annoying. She does get better in the end, but it feels too rushed and not explored enough for me to truly like her when I finished the book.
I also wish Clara’s and Vaughn’s relationship had been developed further. While there are no big time skips, there’s also not much of a build up between them. I did enjoy their dynamic and they were adorable together, but the book simply felt too short for me to get really attached to the character’s and their relationship.
Personally, I hated how Vaughn’s secret aka the fact that she’s a transwoman, was found out. There’s a lot of books out there where trans characters are forcibly outed/found out due to being caught naked, forced to undress or in another way unable to come out themselves. In Vaughn’s case, she was unconscious after being assaulted by homo-/transphobes. I just dislike storylines like these as it takes the transpersons consent to their outing away. However what I liked was that even after Clara found out Vaughn’s secret, she decided not to missgender her, even though she felt quite weirded out at first.
There are some really cute and fluffy scenes in the story, but also some really tough to read ones. First of there’s the assault scene, where Vaughn gets attacked, plus homo- and transphobic speech (the f slur is also used once) on page 31-33, there is one scene where a men sexually harasses Vaughn on page 53, talk about underage prostitution on page 54 (while no age is specifically mentioned it is implied that the characters were really young when they started this and it definitely made me a bit queasy) , Clara uses the n slur on page 9 and she also constantly frets and worries about everything LGBT related being sinful.
Other than that I quite liked the story and it could have been great, but it’s too short for me to really love it and not quite as well-developed as I would have liked. The world building f.e. is barely existent and the story could have been way more developed than it was. But it still was a nice, though short, story and I really liked Vaughn.