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8.16.2016

Review: Roller Girl by Vanessa North

Roller Girl by Vanessa North
Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.
Contemporary Romance, Lesbian, Transgender
Digital/Print (154 pages, RIPTIDE)
Recently divorced Tina Durham is trying to be self-sufficient, but her personal-training career is floundering, her closest friends are swept up in new relationships, and her washing machine has just flooded her kitchen. It’s enough to make a girl cry.
Instead, she calls a plumbing service, and Joanne “Joe Mama” Delario comes to the rescue. Joe is sweet, funny, and good at fixing things. She also sees something special in Tina and invites her to try out for the roller derby team she coaches.
Derby offers Tina an outlet for her frustrations, a chance to excel, and the female friendships she’s never had before. And as Tina starts to thrive at derby, the tension between her and Joe cranks up. Despite their player/coach relationship, they give in to their mutual attraction. Sex in secret is hot, but Tina can’t help but want more.
With work still on the rocks and her relationship in the closet, Tina is forced to reevaluate her life. Can she be content with a secret lover? Or with being dependent on someone else again? It’s time for Tina to tackle her fears, both on and off the track.
The Lake Lovelace stories can be read in any order -- jump in wherever you'd like!
Author Site: website

A fantastic blend of plot and characterization. (4 stars)

I've been wanting to read more lesbian romance for quite a while so when I saw Roller Girl was by Vanessa North—an author I had met and casually chatted with a few times at RT—I thought it was a great place to start. 

As you can imagine this was a book with very complicated and complex relationships. I really liked the characters and the plot but I found that the first person narrative didn't work for me (I'm not a fan of first person in romances anyway). I don't want to be weird about it but this was the first time I'd read a trans character in an adult romance. While I can't speak for the accuracy of the representation I liked that it never felt like it was treated as something unusual or different, it just felt... well, like it was just part of Tina's identity, not all of who she was. 

Roller Girl is a great story and the strong friendships between the women of the derby team added a really endearing element as Tina became part of the team. I do think it's worth noting that at times this felt more like a story about a woman finding her tribe than a romance. Tina goes through a lot of person growth beyond the romance. I enjoyed Roller Girl very much and if I can find more lesbian romances with such rich female friendships interwoven I am so there. I will definitely be looking at North's backlist too.



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