Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Gift of Gravity by Sage C. Holloway

When Julian Shaw's friend Katie, an at-risk transgender teen, disappears, Julian takes it upon himself to find her. However, after arriving in Milwaukee, nothing goes according to plan. He struggles with boyfriend issues, suddenly finds himself playing foster dad to a kitten, and develops an adversarial relationship with mohawked, tattooed rebel Dashiell, who he keeps bumping into during his search.

Dashiell Sutherland hasn't had it easy. His broken family has made him an outcast, and he's sick of trying to fit in, sick of relationships, and especially sick of running into that entitled redhead everywhere he goes. But something about Julian makes him take notice, and soon he is entangled in the quest to find Katie.

When Julian's world falls apart, Dashiell is there to help pick up the pieces, and an unlikely romance develops between them. But with the clock ticking on the search for Katie, and between Julian's self-esteem issues and Dashiell's less than stellar social skills, their relationship may have been doomed from the start.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3.5 Stars.

I'm a huge fan of Sage C. Holloway, all the previous books read received 5 stars from me, but The Gift of Gravity was simply okay for me. Written fluidly, it was easy to connect to this quickly flowing read. But there was an underlying feel of immaturity that kept me from engaging emotionally.

The author uses a mystery to draw the love interests together. Julian is a 25-year-old FtM transsexual who is on a mission to locate his missing pen-pal, Katie, who happens to be MtF. This was the thread of the story that truly interested me and kept me engaged.

Dash is a mohawk-wearing, tattoo-covered bad guy, who isn't a bad guy, who works at a pet shop and lives with an elderly lady, and also moonlights as emotional support for LGBTQ victims at the local hospital.

Sounds like a real prince, doesn't he? (Not sarcasm.) Then why at odd intervals does the douchebag-switch get engaged, for no apparent reason? It didn't fit his character whatsoever.

Julian literally runs into Dash – walks right into him, and the story begins. What I felt created a level of immaturity, when Julian was 25 and had been on his own for a decade, was the forced love-hate that ensued. Dash acted like a puke every time Julian appeared – for no reason – and Julian acted like his tongue didn't function. These behaviors were a contradiction to their backstories and who they were as characters.

It made me uncomfortable, Dash calling Julian an ugly redhead. At one point, they kissed seconds later, when the tongue-tied Julian should have had at least some reservations, like, "Dash isn't attracted to me, he thinks me ugly." ... or the fact that Julian was literally in an abusive relationship – on that very day. Calling someone ugly, both in thought and outburst, kind of removes the romance from the story – I can't buy into the romance now. It also goes against the character building, of a guy who is against bullying, yet is bullying Julian until 40% of the book. Like standing in the doorway – what is he, 10? Julian is 25, so it was baffling. Grown men – this wasn't a young adult novel. It wasn't cute, and it was awkward with immaturity and asshattery, felt forced, and took away from the story itself.

Along the way, a kitten was found, who was named Dusty – add a pet to the book and you've got my attention. Pets and kids always increase my reading enjoyment. But it drove me nuts that 'they/them/their' was being used just in case the female tortie kitten was trans – yet another cutesy element that lessened the emotional impact of harsh subject matter, but in a way that made it immature. Mostly, it drove me crazy from an editor standpoint, brain engaging as if the kitten was plural, not a singular being. I realize this is more of a gender fluid concept, not wishing to step on any toes with the wrong pronoun, but it was a kitten... the kitten can't speak languages, except for fluent feline. It just didn't fit, and came off a bit preachy, as it was used to educate the reader on pronoun etiquette. So I give mad props to the author on the inventive delivery of info, but it didn't quite work – for me, may for everyone else, though.

There are a few threads of conflict going on in The Gift of Gravity: the hunt to find the missing friend, the kitten, Dash's father, the romance, the abusive relationship Julian was in with Ryan, among others. Maybe too much going on, with not enough concentration on any given element, as some of these threads contradicted others: character-development-wise.

Truthfully, The Gift of Gravity wasn't a bad book by any stretch of the imagination. Holloway is a great storyteller. But this book was just okay for me, when I'm used to being blown away by the previous works.

I recommend it to those seeking a FtM transsexual read, as it was done with great research, maturity, and compassion on the subject matter. On the trans front, this was one of the better books I've read on the subject as of late (and there have been many read as of late, as this seems to be a popular subject authors are diving into right now. Sadly, many without research, though)

Recommended for those looking for light romance without a ton of will they, won't they angst.

Overall, the book was just a miss for me on many fronts, but was still a good read.

Sage C. Holloway is a parent, sex-positive feminist, pet store employee and resident fruitcake. Her childhood dream consisted of being a writer and an astronaut, and so far, she is about fifty percent there.

She has one husband, who seems to be the only one capable of putting up with her on a regular basis, and one toddler with a life goal of wreaking the ultimate havoc. She is also owned by three cats, who do an excellent job of assisting her by lying on her manuscripts whenever they can tear themselves away from lording over the living room.

Sage loves glitter and loathes Wisconsin winters. She is delighted when she meets people who share her strange sense of humor.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Gift of Gravity by Sage C. Holloway to read and review.

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