As much as I love how the advent of e-books have opened up the world of transgender erotica (and transgender fiction in general), I do still have a soft spot in my heart for the tattered paperbacks of my youth. Somewhere in my plastic totes of books I still have a stack of old Nexus paperbacks and Mags Inc. chapbooks that connect me with my past.
The Queen Of Hearts by Brad Clayton. Sadly, that delight was fleeting, as I really did not enjoy this, and actually had some significant issues with it.
First of all, despite the title, there's nothing romantic about this book. It's a self-indulgent bit of fiction about a sex-obsessed stalker and a transsexual prostitute who never even warrants a name - she is simply the Queen of Hearts. What erotic elements there are to be found here are brief and clinical, without any real passion behind them, but I can appreciate that Jack eventually overcame his own homophobia to love all of the Queen's parts.
Where the book really began to go off the rails for me was with the switch to a first-person narrative, detailing Jack's early years. I already didn't like him, and reading about his youthful dalliances, his inability to commit, his lack of emotional attachment, and his inability to connect without sex just sealed the deal. There's just no romance to be found in the man, no matter how much he deludes himself.
I admit it, I merely skimmed the rest of the book. Clayton really tries hard to convince us that there is a romance there, but I didn't see it. A secretive, no-strings attached affair, conducted entirely in her apartment, without so much as a midnight stroll in public is not romantic. It's no great surprise when the Queen declares she doesn't love him, and can't give herself to him the way he desires. Jack blames it all on her inability to be loved, but that's a bit hypocritical coming from a man who uses her to satiate his sex addiction, and never once tries to include her in his life.