Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Transformation (The Freshman's Curse #1) by J.B. Rogers

There are books you fall in love with from page one, and others that you struggle with until you get to know one another. Transformation, the first book of The Freshman's Curse, was one of the latter. I started reading this one about 4 times, and put it down 4 times. I have to be honest, I just was not that interested in Jenny or her female-to-male transformation - at least, at first. It was actually her roommate, Sheila, who finally managed get her hooks into me, before their new friend, Mia, reeled me in.

Once I got to know the players and the relationships, however, I began to discover just what a wonderfully deep, well-rounded, complex character Jenny really is. The same goes for the story itself. What I originally expected to be a pretty standard gender-swap revenge tale actually turned out to be a rather massive, well-layered story of an entire college community. J.B. Rogers is as talented as he/she is ambitious, and the story here is one of the most exciting I have read in quite some time.

At its core, this is the story of a college cheerleader who wakes up one morning to find that she has been magically transformed into a man. We know how, but do not initially know why, and even then we know more than Jenny does about it all. The transformation itself is very well done, Jenny's hair, voice, and feminine gait blending awkwardly with Jimmy's chiseled body and very masculine package. Although it is one of those instantaneous magical transformations, it actually captures the transgender condition very well, especially in terms of coming out, facing prejudice, and trying to define an identity.

Sheila intrigued me from the start. Here we have a stunning, smart, self-confident black woman who is far more adventurous (and vulnerable) than we originally suspect. She no sooner finishes coping with her roommate's transformation, and she is off to start her new job as a professional dominatrix. As for Mia, the pretty Hispanic girl who catches Jenny's newly masculine eye is soon revealed to be a more traditional sort of transgender student, and her very real struggles with identity and acceptance intertwine nicely with Jenny. Both, as it turns out, have relationship potential for the new Jenny, but it would be cruel of me to say more.

What I am sure will put this over the top for so many readers is the adventurous fun of the erotic elements. I had certain expectations of this going in, with the New Adult tag in the back of my head, but . . . wow, oh wow, does Rogers let the kink flow. There is a little something here for every kink, fetish, and gender, including some wickedly delicious BDSM roleplay, some wild and crazy public group sex, and a genderfluid threesome that will make you tingle inside and out. There are some rather dark elements as well, getting back to the whole reason for Jenny's transformation, but I think Rogers struck a careful, successful balanced dark cruelty and taboo eroticism with the climactic confrontation.

Revelation, the second half of the story, is out now . . . but if you can wait a couple of weeks, The Complete Novel (With Extra Parts) is on its way!

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