Pattern for an Angel by CJane Elliott. 2019.
There were many things to like about this m/non-binary holiday romance novella which definitely hit me in the feels, especially the sweet moments with the kid, and I could tell that it wanted to be a story that would tug at heartstrings through the creation of safety and care around a gender non-conforming child’s support system around his gender. It did do that, and that’s a lovely thing to integrate into a holiday story, especially with the specificity of a holiday pageant costume. There was potential for a lovely, sweet holiday romance here, it’s in the bones of the story, including the fact that the love interest pretends he can sew the costume because he is so into the MC.
This has a fade to black sex scene and a lot of kisses, and felt rather low heat to me; I didn’t get much of a sense of the character’s sexual attraction, though I think I was supposed to feel they were deeply attracted. My sense was that the sexual and romantic attraction were underdrawn in this story, and instead what was highlighted emotionally was the family feels around the care everyone in the story felt for and took with the child in the story. The arc of the story is much more around the child than it is around the MCs, and it made the story feel unbalanced a bit as a romance. Or at least, underdrawn.
I struggled to get on board with how fast the romance moved; it didn’t lay enough groundwork for me to get on board with the pace of it.
I was troubled by the way the story included a backstory for the non-binary love interest that was so trauma laden and full of trans hatred, abuse and transmisogyny. It didn’t feel like there was enough story to hold that kind of backstory with care, and that made it land badly for me as a trans reader who is a survivor of the kind of abuse the story references. The backstory for the gender non-conforming child also felt like it was inserted without much care, and in general the book was weighed down with more trauma than it could hold. This is all too common a trend in queer and especially trans romance, in my opinion, and a lot of this pain and trauma feels inserted and disrespectful to actual survivors.
Instead of including all this queer and trans trauma and pain, the story would have been better served by showing more of the romance building between the MCs, their romantic and sexual attraction.
- Bisexual white man MC
- Queer white non-binary man MC
- White gender non-conforming child
- Bisexual white woman author
Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)
Transmisogynist bullying from peers. References to parent queer antagonism. References to parental gender policing and trans antagonism. References to an abusive relationship in the past that included gender policing and trans antagonism as part of the abuse. References to a parent struggling with addiction and neglecting her child and custody battles with that parent, reporting her to child services.
- Source of the book: Borrowed from Kindle Unlimited
- I have had no contact with the author.
- All links to Amazon will be affiliate ones. If you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money on that sale (which I plan to use to buy more books to review), but it will not add any to the cost of your product. It comes out of the company’s profits.
Get this book
Buy this book on Amazon (affiliate link)
Add this book on Goodreads
Related reviews and posts
- Review of Her Christmas Cookie, another queer holiday romance
- Review of Handmade Holidays, another queer holiday romance
- Review of Team Phison Forever, another queer holiday romance
- Review of Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together, another queer holiday romance
- Review of Love and Latkes, another queer holiday romance
- Review of Dance All Night, another holiday romance
- Review of His Perfect Partner, another holiday romance
- Review of A Mistletoe Affair, another holiday romance
- Review of Merry Inkmas, another holiday romance
- Interview with Jack Harbon about Unwrap Me, his queer Christmas story
- Interview with Priscilla Oliveras about her Christmas romances
- My 2017 list of Top Holiday Romances