The Better to Kiss You With by Michelle Osgood. Interlude Press 2016.
I enjoyed this quite a bit. Fun, funny, geeky, hot. Butch/femme romance, told from the POV of the femme character. I love that basically everyone we meet in the book is queer.
There is one moment, early on, that felt off to me in terms of butch representation. The femme character first reads the butch as a man, and then realizes she is a butch dyke, but instead of thinking that, she notices “feminine” things about the butch love interest’s body. Not only is this a rather cissexist moment, and one that most butches I know would be uncomfortable with (I certainly am), but it also feels false; most femme dykes who are into butches would think the word butch, and she doesn’t. This feels more like the author is explaining to folks who aren’t queer that butches are women and have “feminine” bodies. It threw me off as a trans butch reader because it felt othering and the cissexism was hard. It almost had me putting the book down. I am glad I didn’t, because it was the only moment of that sort in my read, and I really enjoyed the rest of the book, including their dynamic and flirtation. (It’s at 3% if you want to be ready for it.)
The sex scenes are really well done; they are hot, they move plot, they make me care more about the characters and root for their relationship. I especially appreciate the scene where the femme tops the butch; that representation is rare and it was well done, with just a taste of D/s. (In general, they switch, and their sex has enough of a feral edge to feel right for a werewolf book.)
I liked the way they navigated boundaries in their relationship, and how much the femme character thought about that. (Which definitely disrupted common tropes in paranormal romance.) I loved how central the dog was to the story and to their falling for each other, that’s part of what makes it feel so deeply like a queer story.
This is a thriller, with a stalking storyline, but that wasn’t why I was reading it, and it was balanced well with the romance (which was why I was reading). I did enjoy the werewolf aspects of the story, especially when we get to meet the pack.
All in all, this is one of the hottest f/f romances I’ve read, which also manages to be quite swoony. I was rooting for the lovers all the way through. Definitely a keeper.
- Femme lesbian MC
- Butch lesbian MC
- Queer femme woman author.
Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)
Central stalking storyline, in a classic stranger stalking a woman over the internet kind of way, with a werewolf twist. Which, as a survivor of stalking in intimate and family relationships, was not as triggering for me as it may have been otherwise, especially because it was clear from the blurb. References to murder that feel more like a serial killer thing than a werewolf thing. Physical fighting. Her werewolf girlfriend tries to get her to quit her job in response to the stalking (which definitely raised a red flag for me with regards to a controlling relationship dynamic, especially since that’s such a common thing in paranormal romance. She refuses, and declares that impossible and off limits as a subject, which I adored, and which flips that trope on its head. It literally made me bounce to read that. Love those boundaries. Just cuz you are a werewolf doesn’t make you the boss of your girlfriend.
- Source of the book: I bought it myself.
- I am friends with the author on Twitter.
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