Author: Cass Lenox
Publication Date: 16. January 2017
Rating: 3./5. Stars
Diversity: LGBT Characters, PoC
TW: transphobia, emotionally abusive relationship, fatphobia, bullying
Summary: While on holiday in Toronto, Evie Whitmore planned to sightsee and meet other asexuals, not audition for a dance competition. Now she’s representing Toronto’s newest queer dance studio, despite never having danced before. Not only does she have to spend hours learning her routine, she has to do it with one of the grumpiest men she’s ever met. Tyler turns out to be more than a dedicated dancer, though—he might be the kind of man who can sweep her off her feet, literally and figuratively.
Tyler Davis has spent the last year recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. So he doesn’t need to be pushed into a rushed routine for a dumb competition. Ticking major representation boxes for being trans and biracial isn’t why he went into dance. But Evie turns out to be a dream student. In fact, she helps him remember just how good partnering can be, in all senses of the word. Teaching her the routine, however, raises ghosts for him, ones he’s not sure he can handle.
Plans change, and people change with them. Learning a few steps is one thing; learning to trust again is another entirely.
Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This story was nice. I liked it. Featuring a romance between a straight black transman and an English biromantic ace girl, this story is quite diverse. There’s also a nonbinary side-character who uses they/them pronouns and a gay side-character.
Evie is excited to fly to Canada and visit her friend Sarah, who she met on tumblr. They plan to go to pride together and to meet some other aces. Before Evie knows it she has signed up for a dance competition, that is supposed to happen during pride. While their start is bumpy due to misunderstandings, Evie and Tyler, her dancing partner, soon realize that they fit together as more than just good dancers. This, however, brings up some demons from Tyler’s past, who had an emotionally abusive & transphobic relationship with another dancing partner in the past.
Warnings for those of you who expect Evie to be not interested in sex like I did. She is a sex-positive ace, maybe demisexual, has had sex in the past and does some sexual teasing with Tyler, but there’s no sex scene in the book. Now being a sex-positive ace or demisexual is not a bad thing, but it’s not what I was expecting and I would have loved if there had been a bit more explenation how sexual attraction differs for many aces. There is some great ace pride in the book though, which I really liked.
However, there’s also some stuff that bothers me. There’s a lot of fatphobic comments in this book. Some are directed towards a guy who used to be fat in an attempt to say that being fat and gay and bullied for that couldn’t ever be as hard as being black and having gender dysphoria. Neither is easy and I disliked that this was never brought up afterward. What I found way worse however, is the way Evie’s mom constantly comments on her daughter’s weight. In the story, we are told that Evie is thin enough for her dance partner to easily lift her, but trained enough to lift him as well. She does a lot of sports. And even if she didn’t, she’s a grown up and her mother has no right to say that stuff. It is never discussed, at all and this really bothered me. I also hated how one of the characters is supposed to forgive his high-school bully bc ~he changed~ and now truly loves him. Everybody pressures him into it and doesn’t seem to realize how much the character is hurting. This really made me uncomfortable. (and not to mention the fact that Evie self-describes herself as fujoshi and has some fangirl attacks about shipping slash and/or fetishizing gay/bi men, which was kind of gross).
I also found the writing to be underwhelming and there is some conflict that feels really contrived. Not to mention the fact that they fall in love in less than a week. Ugh, I know they don’t have much time, but I hate insta-love. Other than that the story was really sweet and I liked it.