Review of Rogue Ever After

Rogue Ever After (anthology). 2019.

Rogue Ever AfterRogue Ever After is the seventh and final book in a series of collections of resistance romance, and one of my favorites.

Rogue Ever After (2 f/f, 1 m/m, 1 f/f/f, and 4 m/f stories) is more queer than some of the previous collections, containing five stories with queer MCs, including an m/f story centering a trans woman and a gender non-conforming man. It has two stories by authors of color; one of the previous collections had three stories by authors of color, three had two stories by authors of color, and two had one story by an author of color.

The activism described in the stories had a range to it, including activism related to elected officials, non-profit work, creating leftist podcasts, online activism, donations and fundraising efforts, local efforts to increase activism in the neighborhood, and teacher organizing.

This collection of romances is a mixed bag, as most anthologies are, but it definitely leans to quality, and while some of the stories did not work as well for me personally, I think that many readers will like those very stories. I’m including information about rep of marginalized identities; if I list something in error, please let me know. I am marking the stories that do not include sex with three asterisks.***

A few stories that I especially enjoyed:

Ipso Facto ILU by Hudson Lin (m/m)

This was delightful. Queer leftist celebrity podcaster meet-cutes queer graduate student who fanboys his podcast and is delightfully awkward. Complete with lots of fluster, and being snowed in, plus a one night stand that might lead to more, this insta-love romance made me smile all the way through. I really liked how much Jonny was charmed by Brandon’s awkwardness and poli-sci theory geekery. I adored Brandon myself and wanted to be his friend.

Representation

  • Asian Canadian queer man MCs
  • Taiwanese Canadian queer author

Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)

Sex on the page. 

The Blundering Billionaire by Chace Verity  (m/f with a trans woman heroine)***

I really liked this one! I fell hard for both the characters, especially the heroine, and it was really lovely to get to spend time with them. This romance focuses on activism around the student loan debt crisis. It’s set inside the fashion world and I especially appreciated the descriptions of Jay’s outfits, which were wonderfully genderiffic and sounded amazing.

Representation

  • Black gender non-conforming hero
  • Trans woman heroine
  • Non-binary queer author

Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)

Controlling family. 

For Love and Country by Tracey Livesay (m/f)***

This romance between a senator and his deputy chief of staff who has been in love with him for years has a category rom feel to it. Great pacing, engaging characters, high stakes, I could not put it down. I really appreciated the way both characters had arcs that had both personal and political stakes and how those arcs interacted with each other. It was interesting to see a Republican central character have an arc around taking a stand against a fascist administration. Really well crafted, satisfying romance. This is my second read by Livesay and I am definitely going to be reading more.

Representation

  • Black heroine
  • Black woman author.

Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)

Casual ableist language. References to a parent being ill with dementia. Reference to a beloved aunt’s death and her bequest being a catalyst for action. References to incarceration of immigrants in internment camps.

A Little Rebellion by KD Fisher (f/f)

I enjoyed this butch/femme romance between teachers who meet cute in a dog park and are dealing with awful new curriculum policies and take steps to make change happen so they can be effective teachers and reduce the risk of their students of color getting shoved through the school to prison pipeline. As a firmer high school teacher, this depiction resonated with my own experience. The romance was sweet, and I was rooting for these characters to get together.

Representation

  • Bisexual femme woman MC
  • Queer Chinese American butch woman MC
  • Queer woman author.

Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)

References to institutional racism. Sex on the page. 

Love You Like That by KK Hendin (m/f)***

This is a friends to lovers story that’s more about the MCs realizing and then finally disclosing that they have been in love with each other for years. I liked the real talk about burnout and how impossible it is to do political work in DC without money, enjoyed witnessing their friendship, and felt for the heroine who was worried that she wasn’t making enough of a difference with the activism she was able to do. I really liked seeing how she developed ways to make it more accessible for her to call her rep, with her social anxiety. I liked them both, and enjoyed the moment with the hero’s boss where they talked about how he’d been in love with the heroine for ages.

Representation

  • Heroine with social anxiety.
  • Non-binary secondary character.

Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)

MC with social anxiety. References to food scarcity. 

Stories that didn’t work as well for me:

Starlet Struck by Tamsen Parker (f/f)

The MCs have very hot chemistry and the sex scene was full of heat, and those aspects of the story were my favorite, along with the meet-cute set up. That said, I’m pretty tired of queer romances that have out for you storylines and central conflicts around being closeted, and this is definitely a story like that. It does make that clear from the description, so I wasn’t surprised, which is a blessing. And as those kinds of stories go, this one was pretty charming.

Representation

  • Queer woman MC who survived foster care
  • Queer woman MC

Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)

References to child physical abuse. Reference to kissing a foster sibling. References to queer antagonism from family and queer youth getting kicked out and being estranged from family. References to queer antagonism, anti-queer sexual violence, and sexual harassment on the job. Casual fat antagonism. References to queer youth homelessness and suicide. Sex on the page. 

Good Service by Sionna Fox (m/f)

I had mixed feelings about this story. So on the one hand I liked the fact that this engaged with the way its possible to push yourself so far doing activism work that it breaks you and you need to not do that work any more. But on the other hand, I really wish that had not been a source of conflict in the story. I may be biased as I’ve been in the hero’s position (though in a different field of activist work), but for me it would have been a conflict that would not resolve that easily or smoothly, and for this to occur that early…likely not at all. So I struggled with this, with believing in them as a couple, getting on board with the romance, especially given where it ended. On the other other hand, it did feel very real, and I connected with the characters, found them both very compelling, and enjoyed the story, until the black moment. I especially appreciated the light femdom aspect of the sex scene, which wasn’t explicitly negotiated but felt very consensual and just…lovely.

Representation

  • Hero with anxiety

Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)

References to a nervous breakdown and connected anxiety, sleep difficulties and stomach issues. Includes a scene where one character is being rather mean and judgmental towards another. Sex on the page. Light femdom dynamic which was not directly negotiated but felt consensual. 

Love Your Love by Ainsley Booth (f/f, f/f polyam V)***

It felt like the activism aspect got a bit backgrounded here, and like there was a bit more story to tell that just drifts away; or maybe I wasn’t clear exactly what the arc of the romance was and who it was between. (It didn’t seem like it was the new f/f relationship, that felt like it was being treated as the conflict of the story, not the romance readers are rooting for. This feels like the kind of polyam V story that’s mostly about reassuring everyone that really it’s ok to be polyam and have multiple relationships. Even the experienced polyam folks in the story seem to be really oriented towards that and move from that place, which felt off to me as an experienced polyam reader. I wanted there to be more story, more activism, and more to the romance beyond the is it ok to have an open polyam relationship conflict/question.

Representation

  • Queer woman MC with depression
  • Queer women MCs

Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)

References to depression.

Disclosures

  • Source of the book: ARC from one of the authors
  • I am friends with many of the authors on Twitter, and was in an online queer writer’s group with Chace Verity.

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