Sunday, September 21, 2014

Breaking Free by Cat Grant

OMG, this was one of the sexiest, most beautiful, most emotionally powerful books I have read in a very long time! Breaking Free is such a fantastic story, so beautifully told, and with such a realistic, positive approach to gender, sex, and love.

Cat Grant herself seemed a bit cautious about the transgender element in her introduction, but I think she absolutely nailed it. The physical, the mental, and the emotional development of Richard/Renee are all handled beautifully. It all begins with Richard "disappearing" inside Renee, who is described as "his sexy, dominatrix alter-ego," but it's not long before he come to accept that it's Richard who is the illusion, and Renee who is the inner reality.

What complicates matters is the fact that Richard is married to Robert, the man of his dreams. An out and proud gay couple, their life undergoes a significant upheaval with Renee's decision to begin transitioning, and Cat does an amazing job of taking an honest look at the impact such a transition can have on a relationship. It's not easy, presenting challenges that certain tug at the heartstrings, but that's life - raw, honest, and un-romanticized.

While the story could have worked very well without the subplot of Jase, their shared submissive, whom Renee fears Robert is destined to leave her for is almost unnecessary, it does allow Cat to really explore the differences between sex and love, just as she's already looking at the differences between sex and gender. It's actually quite a complex story here, with the kind of deep observations you don't always find in an erotic romance.

I loved the tentative emergence of Renee into their lives, her nervous reluctance to demand her rights in the office, and the sisterhood she creates with the women around her. In many ways, this could be considered a trans-feminist tale, but that's only another element of what is a well-rounded, well-told, well-loved romantic tale. Just beautiful . . . and oh so inspiring.

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