Author: Vanessa North
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publication Date: 23. July 2016
Rating: 3/5. Stars
Diversity: LGBT Characters
Summary: Recently divorced Tina Durham is trying to be self-sufficient, but her personal-training career is floundering, her closest friends are swept up in new relationships, and her washing machine has just flooded her kitchen. It’s enough to make a girl cry.
Instead, she calls a plumbing service, and Joanne “Joe Mama” Delario comes to the rescue. Joe is sweet, funny, and good at fixing things. She also sees something special in Tina and invites her to try out for the roller derby team she coaches.
Derby offers Tina an outlet for her frustrations, a chance to excel, and the female friendships she’s never had before. And as Tina starts to thrive at derby, the tension between her and Joe cranks up. Despite their player/coach relationship, they give in to their mutual attraction. Sex in secret is hot, but Tina can’t help but want more.
With work still on the rocks and her relationship in the closet, Tina is forced to reevaluate her life. Can she be content with a secret lover? Or with being dependent on someone else again? It’s time for Tina to tackle her fears, both on and off the track.
Tina has gone through a divorce a while ago, shortly after transitioning. Her girlfriend, Lisa, was straight and it just didn’t work out. Since Lisa always took care of her and fixed things Tina is stuck in a limbo, not quite sure what to do now. When she meets Joe, the plumber/derby trainer, she quickly finds herself falling for her. However, Joe’s past will force them to keep their relationship under wraps and Tina does not feel comfortable with that at all.
I loved that there was absolutely no transphobia in the story, that was really nice to read. Tina is misgendered once, but other than that, she passes and doesn’t face any transphobic harassment. Also, this is not a story about transitioning, it’s a story about life after transition. Of course, both kinds of stories are needed, but I enjoyed the focus of this story. There is also a nonbinary child, Tommy, who uses they/them pronouns, who meets Tina in the end of the novel. That was one of my favorite scenes, it was lovely and sweet and showed how important representation can be.
I adored the side characters. Lauren is Tina’s derby-wife, a term that is used to good partners on the field. She is straight but absolutely supports Tina’s and Joe’s relationship. There’s also Jeremy, a guy Tina trains as personal trainer. He’s really supportive of her and she of him, their relationship is really nice. Then there’s Elvis, Tina’s dog. I absolutely adore him, he’s so cute. Apparently, some other side characters appear in other books of the series, but as I never read them I can’t judge that.
Personally, I found the sex scenes well written, but as the relationship felt rushed to me, I didn’t really feel them. I would have liked some more build up. Then there was also the “our relationship has to be secret bc ~reasons~” which bothered me. We got a bit of a better reason for Joe’s reluctance quite late in the story, but by then I was already too annoyed at all the fighting and misunderstandings. I still enjoyed their romance, but I could have done with quite so much conflict.
I don’t care much for Roller Derby, but the story made it sounds really interesting, so that was not really a problem for me. I also would have loved some more background on Tina, which wasn’t really there.
In the end, I have to say I liked the story, but it was nothing exceptional. It has great representation and I adore the characters, but the relationship sadly didn’t really work for me.