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Roller Girl (Lake Lovelace) (Volume 3) Paperback – March 21, 2016
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"The romance shoots sparks" -Publisher's Weekly **Starred Review**
Publishers Weekly **Starred Review** - "The romance shoots sparks." Washington Post - "[R]omantic and sexy, but it is the tribe of female supporting characters that glitters here."
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Top customer reviews
I never saw myself as a girl who would get all misty over a sports romance...but then, I hadn't read Vanessa North's Roller Girl, third in the series of Lake Lovelace romances. Tina, newly out and finding a new life for herself after retiring from wakeboarding and divorcing her high school sweetheart, meets-cute with Joe when a sock clogs her dryer. Joe ingratiates herself to Tina's pooch Elvis and the reader almost immediately, a good-ol-girl with a proposition: Tina and her awesome athletic skills should join the local roller derby team. She finds new friends, a new passion, and even new love--but the love has to be secret, since Joe's coaching the team.
I loved that this was a romance where the heroine had a very full life--compassion for her day job clients, a circle of close friends from her Before Times who support her through it all, self-love through the process of coming out and becoming herself in the world. Tina is a very lovable narrator--quick, smart, and very human. The camaraderie within the derby team is unmatched, and the action is fast and furious enough to keep my non-sportswoman's heart interested. I caught a couple of details that were a bit too important to miss (if your girlfriend has had bottom surgery, please use lube. use lube in general. it's a good thing.), but I felt that Tina's transition and life in the After Times was handled sensitively, and triumphantly. (I cried a little near the end. yes, I did) And most important--no character was beyond redemption, a quality I loved. A Happily Ever After, women kicking butt and inspiring others, and steamy romance that works on its flaws? Recommended so hard.
"And derby? What's the best thing about derby?"
"I think, for me, it's being accepted and included in female friendship, in a space that isn't dominated by men. In a space where our bodies aren't for decoration, and every body type has an advantage...What's wonderful about derby is what makes it so beautifully subversive: it empowers women to love what our bodies can do."
My only gripe with this book is the blurb. Although I knew that this book was part of a series, I was lead to believe that it could be read as a stand alone. Which it sort of can. Except you don't know the MC's backstory at all, you're just launched into it and it takes a few chapters to figure out what's going on. Because I read this as a stand alone, the blurb made me think it was a "coming out" story, which it isn't. The main character is already established as not only "out," but has also gone thru all the transition surgeries already. So, thanks to the blurb I was left confused for a few chapters & kind of dissapointed. But that didn't make me knock a star off. I give the blurb two stars, but the book gets five.
This is a deep, thoughtful, sexy story and oh boy is there character growth.
If you want good writing, read these books. This is the craft at its best, and romance at its best. The real deal.
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.
Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.
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