Title: Hopeless Romantic
Author: Francis Gideon
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 293 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Transgender Romance
At a Glance: This book lives up to its title. Nick and Katie’s love story really is hopelessly romantic.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Nick Fraser is a true romantic. He wants the guy instead of the girl, but other than that, he wants everything his favorite rom-coms depict: the courtship, the passionate first kiss, the fairy-tale wedding. But after breaking up with the love of his life, Nick wonders if anything fairy-tale will ever happen for him.
Then he meets Katie, who’s just like a rom-com heroine. She’s sharp, funny, sweet, and as into music and punk culture as Nick is. What’s more, he’s incredibly attracted to her — even though she’s a woman. Nick has never considered that he might be bisexual, but his feelings for Katie are definitely real.
When Katie reveals that she’s transgender, Nick starts to see how much he doesn’t understand about the world, queer identity, and himself. He is hopelessly in love with Katie, but this isn’t a fairy tale, and Nick’s friends and family may not accept his new relationship. If he wants it all, he has to have the courage to make his fantasy a reality.
Review: After running into each other, literally, and then running into each other again in the more figurative sense, Nick Fraser and Katie Miller discover their common love of music and 80s and 90s rom-coms, and it sparks some of the conversations that make this novel such a sweet and charming read. I’m a huge fan of an author who knows how to use dialogue to not only advance the story but help readers get to know the characters, and these two charmed my socks off with their debates and banter and the more serious conversations as well. There was never a moment where I thought, “Guh, why don’t they just talk to each other already?” which, as a non-fan of the Big Misunderstanding because characters avoid the tough conversations, this made me kinda giddy.
As a growing awareness of the attraction Nick feels towards Katie develops, and the resulting confusion it inspires in Nick—who’s never in his life identified as bisexual—the revelation that Katie is transgender begins to make sense to Nick in the wrongest of wrong ways, so very wrong. But, after opening his mouth and inserting both feet more than once, it gives Katie the opportunity to school Nick on why he’s insulted her, even if it’s unintentional. The greatest thing about Katie is that she’s in control, she allows Nick the mistake of his ignorance so that she can teach him why he’s wrong, which is sometimes part of the learning process—everyone makes mistakes; growing is learning not to keep repeating them. I felt Katie’s patience with Nick not only revealed that she’d been through this so many times before, all the things cisgender people take for granted, but it also gives readers the chance to know Katie as a strong, confident, independent and intelligent woman, despite the things that still cause her anxiety. There was never a point where Katie needed saving or played the damsel in distress to Nick’s knight in shining armor, and I loved that the author avoided that tired romantic trope. Between the two, Nick did all the growing as a character, all thanks to Katie, and watching him fall for her was really the defining romantic moment in the story.
Some things in Francis Gideon’s Hopeless Romantic will either feel retro to you or make you feel nostalgic (which is the kinder, gentler way of saying old). I loved the nostalgia parts of this story, with all the movie and music references, which endeared Nick and Katie to me all the more because it’s those two things that drew them together—some of the ways they started to bond even reminded me a little of Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, complete with the meet-cute. In fact, this book reads as if it could have been scripted from the template of some of those great rom-coms of the 80s and 90s, even including the “James Spader friend” who makes you wonder why he’s a friend—until, in Levi’s case, he does something really human and listens to Nick and proves he knows how not to be an arsehole all the time. And I loved that Nick’s love and loyalty was to Katie, always, and that he’s even given the great monologue scene where he gets to say out loud all the things that make her special to him.
One of my favorite quotes has always been, “love is friendship set to music.” I love it in the metaphorical sense, and I love that in the case of Hopeless Romantic, it works in the most literal sense too, but most important, in the end, is that this book lives up to its title. Nick and Katie’s love story really is hopelessly romantic.
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