I RECEIVED THIS BOOK AS FREE REVIEWING COPY. ALSO BEWARE SPOILERS ARE PRETTY MASSIVE, NOT JUST MINOR ONES. Hmmm, what else? Oh yes, it is rantish at times and that would be it with the disclaimers.
I am the reader who loves and welcomes the spoilers, I however have not read any reviews till a day before I started, because somebody mentioned to me that there is a transgendred protagonist in the story and of course I wanted to know more. Anyway, I went into the story knowing who Cami was and I enjoyed every layer, every detail of her characterization. Of course being as straight woman as they come, I would not and could not say how authentic such characterization was, but to me it was convincing, convincing and very beatiful. I actually have not had a problem with Dante's characterization either. Of course I had to suspend disbelief as to how little time it took for him to start the process of self examination and change, and of course falling in love helped him become a better man, but this is romance and this is what often happens in romances, I bought it as romantic trope. Even at the end of Song of Oestend (which overall I enjoyed much better than this book) I could imagine that Dante could be redeemed, honestly. Yes, he did bad things and in real life I would have not looked at him twice after what he did, but as long as his actions were guided by misguided jealousy and love. It is a golden possibility for romance writer and Marie Sexton certainly took advantage of it IMO. I also thought that their sex scenes were incredibly hot.
Unfortunately here I have to end what I loved about the book and start ranting, so take it for what it is worth. We now come to Simon and Frances and I have to say that this book certainly managed something unique, something that I have not read in a single mm romantic story (or mm mystery, fantasy, historical, any subjenre) and not in a good way. Here we have one of the two main couples in the romance, where one guy cannot give another guy romantic love because, are you ready? He is not gay. No, he does not become gay for Frances either (shudders). I could not believe what I was reading. Do not get me wrong, if this was a literary fiction, I would have totally had a different genre expectation and would not blink an eye at two friends staying together where one friend is in love with another, but that other just cannot be. But we are in romance land and Simon is not gay. Simon is not gay, Simon does not even look like he is bisexual, because he imagines woman when he is getting off with Frances all the time till he realizes how very selfish he was and even when he realizes how selfish he was, he is just pleased to give Frances what he needs but realizes he cannot give him much. They are friends who have arrangement, they are partners, team, whatever. My goodness, my heart ached for Frances, who would never have a chance to have somebody who can love him completely. When Simon used Frances to get off, this storyline infuriated me, at the end I was depressed.
I even get the Orgy at the end, although I thought it was overkill and singing the songs and bending their mind would be enough for healing and forgiveness, but I get an intent behind the Orgy.
Three stars for Dante and Cami, one star barely for Simon and Frances, very depressing.