Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Memories by Valentina Heart

I didn’t realise it when I snatched up a review copy of Memories, but I actually read the first edition of it several years ago. I enjoyed it immensely, and remembered it as being lovingly romantic, so I didn’t mind giving it a second read. Much to my delight, Valentina Heart has enhanced this version, expanding the memories into full-fledged flashbacks that ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’ the history of Gabe and Marlin.

Fortunately, she hasn’t changed the structure of the story itself, which was a huge part of the appeal for me. This is a story that begins with the happily-ever-after, introducing us to Gabe and Marlin as a happy, fully committed couple, who are very much in love. The opening scene is deliciously romantic, and does a superb job of portraying a sexual encounter between a man and a woman, regardless of the eventual reveal that Marlin still has a penis. That reveal is very natural and matter-of-fact, detailed as part of their romantic encounter, but not played for any sort of shock value or fetishistic titillation.

After a few opening sexual encounters, we’re indulged in a little pillow talk, then invited to join them in the kitchen for some more detailed reminiscing about how they met, who they were before they met, and how they came to be together. Some of those memories are sweet and funny, while others are sad and painful, but they’ve all played a part in making Marlin (and even Gabe) who they are today. There’s a point at which Marlin says her friends from the beauty salon like to say “we are complete opposites, but together we're a wet dream,” and that sums up this story perfectly. Their pasts couldn’t be more different, and their paths to love couldn’t have diverged any further, but it makes their pairing that much sweeter.

All-in-all, not only is this a delightful romance, but it’s also a very gender-positive one. Valentina Heart exposes us to all the doubts, confusions, fears, and tragedies of Marlin growing up, but ultimately establishes her as a happy woman, content in her own body, even if it doesn’t match society’s expectations 100%. Marlin and Gabe are as perfect a couple as any gal could ask for, and Memories is just an absolute delight to read.

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