Although Training Season isn't technically a trans* read, it contains such a lovely, straightforward, natural approach to gender that I had to give it a read. Matty Marcus is your typical (almost stereotypical) Olympic figure skater, a gay young man with an attitude and a drive to succeed. Having already cost himself one shot at gold, he's looking for a coach who can instill the discipline he needs . . . but who finds a hunky cowboy who teaches him to submit in an entirely different (and more intimate) way.
What Leta Blake has done so very, very well here is explore Matty's rather unorthodox expression of himself. Although he doesn't identify as trans* or even as genderqueer, he enjoys the look and feel of glitter lip gloss and blue eye shadow, and is quite comfortable strutting around in a silver and pink coat with a bright orange scarf. It's not about gender, it's about identity . . . about feeling beautiful and comfortable with himself.
The romance here is fiery and hot, almost confrontational at times, but it's precisely what it should be with such a clash of personalities and cultures. There power exchange element is exciting too, relying simply upon dominant and submissive roles in the bedroom, without getting too far into the paraphernalia and terminology of a 'proper' BDSM relationship. With a focus on the characters and relationships, Training Season is just as often funny and sweet as well, which makes for a lovely, balanced read.