Please welcome Z. Allora and the Transgender Romance Writers, who have certainly opened my eyes and added to the TBR pile. Vicktor Alexander has offered a snippet of his new alternate universe novel, A Groom of Convenience, for us to enjoy, and the group has some goodies to offer. Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter.
Z. Allora, please tell us why you’re here today.
I want to thank P.D. Singer for allowing us to hop by on our Transgender* Romance Writers Blog hop. This lovely group of writers and I have been bouncing around the Internet to hopefully raise awareness about transgender* issues.
Did you know the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention came out with a follow-up study on transgender* people. Here are some distressing findings:
78% of survey respondents who suffered physical or sexual violence at school (attempted suicide).
65 % of respondents who experienced violence at work.
57% of those who reported that their family chose not to speak/spend time with them.
69% have experienced homelessness.
60% reported a doctor or healthcare provider refused to treat them.
57-61% of those disrespected or harassed by law enforcement officers.
I know many readers in this community have never read a transgender* romance. Remember that dark time long ago when you didn’t read m/m romance? (Hugs, I know you’d rather forget about it.) But when you first heard of this genre, you might have felt it was out of your comfort zone… until you opened that very first gay romance book. You were hooked.
The same way you fell in love with gay characters and now fight intolerance & promote equality, we want you to adore our transgender* characters. We want you to open our books (and your hearts) to witness transgender characters’ strengths, their struggles, their flaws and root for their victories in love because in doing so you’re going to understand a little bit more about their lives. And we hope you will fight transphobia just as hard as you fight homophobia.
We want to encourage your participation in this hop so please comment or ask us questions for a chance to win:
1 of 2 $20 Amazon gift cards
1 of 1 $20 online retailers B&N, ARE, or Amazon
1 of 1 $15 gift card
1 e-book copy of Groom of Convenience
1 e-book copy of Illusions & Dreams
1 e-book copy of Transgression
The winners will be picked after our last stop March 5th. We will notify you by e-mail.
What was your biggest worry in writing a transgender* romance?
Vicktor Alexander: Proselytizing, I guess. I didn’t want to be all like “HERE’S WHAT’S WRONG WITH SOCIETY! NOW FIX IT, ASSHOLES!!!” But at the same time I did want to show people that there was an issue and that they could help, and not even that, but that we all needed to become more comfortable with the issue. Myself included. While I was writing the book I had to constantly get over the sexist ideals that I had in my head that I wasn’t even aware were there. I was horrified.
Theo Fenraven: Not doing justice to the characters. Zach is bisexual, Sky and Liza are MtF transgender, and their friend Ricky is a cross-dresser.
Ethan Stone: That I would get it wrong with Taylor. That Taylor’s issues would seem unrealistic.
Sara York: That we wouldn’t do justice to the story. I think the result was fairly good though. I’m very happy with Transparency and the characters we created.
Kimberly Gardner: I didn’t have a worry that I would say was unique to writing a trans character. Whenever I’m writing a story, any story, I hope I have the talent and the skill to make the world of the story come alive for my readers. Mostly I think I’m pretty adept at doing that. If I fail to draw the reader in, the failure is mine and not on account of characters or the story I’m telling.
Corvus Alyse: At first, I really didn’t want to offend anyone or piss anyone off arbitrarily. But then I realized that I wouldn’t be writing for me. So I wrote from a point of view that I adopted from my own personal lifestyle. I do my thing, and as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, I’m good.
Z. Allora: Doing harm. The transgender* community has been sexualized far too often… I didn’t want to add to the negative stereotypes or unrealistic views. But I couldn’t stop my Boon-nam from rejoicing over having the body she’d always dreamed of nor would I not allow Lalana to celebrate the duality of her nature.
In an alternate universe, in the country of Angland, 1814, the gentry live lives of culture and class. It is a time of courtships, marriages of convenience, and titles, where scandal can ruin an entire family. Gender lines are blurred, and making a good match is of utmost importance. Children are born to men and women, which has led to the acceptance of same-sex marriages.
Lady Lucien Timothy Hawthorne is shocked and angry when he is betrothed against his will to Lord Heathcliff Eddington, III, the Duke of Pompinshire. While drowning his frustration at a popular gentleman’s club, he meets “Robert,” a gorgeous older man whom he sleeps with as “Timmy,” regardless of the potential damage to his reputation.
After their liaison, Lucien corresponds with Robert via letters left at Remmington, and they decide to elope. Before they can get away, Lucien meets his betrothed, Heathcliff, who he is surprised to discover is also his beloved, Robert. Both men desire a marriage of the heart, but they find out that sometimes a marriage of convenience can turn into love under the right circumstances. But Lucien has a secret, and Tlondon isn’t as safe as they once thought.
Excerpt For Groom of Convenience:
Lucien pulled on his white gloves and rose from the seat in front of his dressing table. Picking up his reticule, he turned toward his bedchamber door and accepted the golden lace fan Patty held out for him. He wore a white-and-gold waistcoat with tails that trailed to the floor. His white breeches were trimmed in gold, and he wore a pair of heeled white boots his mother had ordered made especially for the outfit he wore. His hair had been brushed, powdered, curled, and pulled to the side to rest on his shoulder, the loose queue surrounded by flowers, and small diamond barrettes throughout the blond strands of the rest of his hair. His eyes were lined in black kohl, and his lips had the smallest amount of red lip rouge, while his cheeks were brushed with pale pink rouge. He felt as if he were Princess Edward in that moment, and he tried not to smile too wide at Patty when she declared him the most beautiful woman she’d ever laid eyes on.
He stepped into the hallway just as the front door opened, and he placed a hand against his stomach to settle his nerves. His entire family was attending the Cavendish ball, and in Hawthorn tradition, they were all wearing clothes that complemented each other. The men were wearing hunter green and gold and the women wore white and gold. It was only in that moment that Lucien realized he should have coordinated his attire with his betrothed, and he could only hope that in the five hours since they’d last seen each other someone had thought to send word to Heath about what colors to wear.
All those thoughts left his mind when Lucien came to a stop at the top of the stairs. Heath stood in the entry hall, handing his walking cane, top hat, and greatcoat to the butler, wearing a black suit with tails, a snow white shirt, gold vest, and a white cravat. Lucien didn’t even have time to be happy about the fact that his future husband was wearing gold before Heath glanced up. The intensity in his gray eyes colliding with Lucien’s own left him breathless. The rest of the room faded around them, and Lucien found himself breathing in sync with his intended.
He watched, barely moving, as Heath walked toward him, up the stairs, not speaking, barely blinking. When he finally stopped before Lucien, Lucien looked up into his darkening silver eyes and inhaled sharply.
“You are a vision, wrapped in a dream.”
Lucien shook his head, wanting to deny Heath’s words, but Heath went down on one knee before him without warning.
“Forgive me for being remiss and not giving this to you before now, but I can only blame the fact that the wonder of your being has held me so enthralled I find myself barely able to function outside of your presence,” Heath said with a small smile. “I can only hope you will accept this gift as a small token of my esteem and as a measure of my devotion.”
Lucien gave Heath a wobbly smile and looked at the black box he pulled from the pocket of his waistcoat. Lucien gasped when the box was opened, one hand on his chest in amazement.
Nestled inside the velvet box was the most beautiful ring he had ever seen in his life. A large sapphire, the largest sapphire Lucien had ever laid eyes on—bigger even than his mother’s—surrounded by diamonds, waited to be placed on his finger, and Lucien’s eyes filled with tears.
“Oh milady! You must not cry! Your cosmetics will smear,” Patty warned him. Lucien let out a watery laugh as he held out his left hand for Heath.
“Then I’m afraid we will be late to the ball, Patty, for these dreadful tears give not one whit about whether or not my cosmetics will run down my face.”
Heath let out a loud chuckle as he lifted the ring from the box and slid it onto Lucien’s finger before placing a gentle kiss on that same finger. Heath looked up into Lucien’s face and smiled gently at him.
“You have made me extremely happy,” Heath said.
“The feeling is completely mutual, I assure you, Your Grace,” Lucien choked out. He smiled widely and stepped back as Heath stood. Lucien turned to Patty. “How bad do I look?”
Patty shook her head and rushed him back to his room.
Before long Lucien was being wrapped in his fur-trimmed white cloak and assisted into Heath’s carriage. Heath sat across from Charlotte, Rourke, and Whitcomb, and Lucien sat next to him and Yarborough. A line of carriages left the Yorkshire Estate and traveled to Cavendish Manor, and Lucien found his hands trembling slightly in his lap, the glove of his left hand puffed up around his ring. He’d caused everyone to laugh when he’d put the ring on over the glove and then taken it off and put it on under the glove before eventually settling for having it on underneath his glove before they could finally leave.
“Are you all right, my lady?” Heath whispered to him.
“Yes, Your Grace.” Lucien nodded. “I am quite well.”
“Oh Luce, I hope you are not worrying over Madison Kipling,” Charlotte spoke up in the darkness of the carriage.
“The viscount’s heir?” Heath asked.
Lucien groaned and lowered his head in embarrassment.
“Why would you be worried about Kipling?”
“Lucien was in love with Madison when he was a little girl,” Charlotte said, a teasing note to her voice.
“You were?” Heath sounded amused.
“Two years ago is not so little,” Lucien mumbled. The carriage grew quiet.
“It was completely one-sided, though, Your Grace. I assure you,” Charlotte said quickly.
Lucien looked at Heath, who sat watching him intently, and nodded in agreement. “I assure you, Pompinshire, Mr. Kipling doesn’t even know I exist.”
“Well, then, he’s a fool,” Heath stated with finality.
Nothing further was said on the matter, and Lucien settled, as much as his outfit would allow, into the cushioned seat of Heath’s luxurious carriage. Soon they were pulling up in front of the Cavendish Manor and waiting in a line of carriages.
When they reached the front of the line, Charlotte was assisted down by her husband, who had stepped down first, and Lucien was helped down by Heath, who smiled the entire time Lucien stepped from the carriage.
They walked up the stairs to the front door and handed their cloaks and greatcoats to the waiting servants and maids.
Lucien took Heath’s offered elbow and walked with him to the ballroom, behind their parents, followed by Heath’s friends. The rousing sounds of the quadrille could be heard even from the entry hall as they made their way to the ballroom, their whole party resplendent in their attire, and Lucien had to stop himself from bobbing his head along to the music. Heath’s parents were introduced first, and Lucien swallowed nervously. Then Lucien’s parents stepped up to the doorway and handed their cards to the butler so they could be announced.
“The Earl and Countess of Yorkshire,” the butler announced.
Lucien smiled slightly as his parents stepped forward and walked down the stairs to the ballroom. Charlotte and Rourke were announced next, then Mary and George, and when Frances and Sophie stepped up, Lucien saw Madison across the room. His breath caught when he found himself almost pinned in place by the green gaze of the heir to the Cavendish title.
Madison was tall and thin, though not lanky. He was nowhere near as broad and muscled as Heath. But where Heath was all brawn, dangerous muscle, and screamed possessiveness, Madison was grace, sophistication, and beauty. His eyes widened in interest as he looked at Lucien as if seeing him for the first time, and he began to walk forward.
“His Grace, the Duke of Pompinshire, and his betrothed, Lady Lucien Hawthorn,” the butler intoned, and the entire room came to a halt. Including Madison.
It gave Lucien a bit of a thrill to know that Madison Kipling, a man he had spent years pining and daydreaming over, finally wanted him, only to find out he couldn’t have him. Lucien pasted a serene smile on his face, when he really wanted to let out a laugh of delight, and squeezed Heath’s arm gently.
“Are you ready, Beauty?” Heath asked.
More about Vicktor Alexander:
Thank you, Vicktor, authors, and readers. Please leave a comment to be eligible for the drawings.