Christmas Goodreads Giveaway!
I am giving away three signed paperback copies of my debut novel, Grayality. Winners will also receive a Grayality swag bag. The giveaway is open until December 25. Follow the link below.
Love knows no gender.
Pate Boone, a twenty-six-year-old transgender man, embarks on a new adventure when his childhood best friend, and yes, ex-lover, Oakley Ogden, convinces him to escape their hometown in hopes for something new.
They land in Cloverleaf, a tiny rural town in Montana, so that Oakley can care for his granny who is battling breast cancer. She pressures the two young men to enroll in a nearby college. Pate immediately becomes enthralled with Maybelle, a young, vivacious freshman to whom he fears revealing his transgender identity. Still, he finds it impossible to resist Maybelle, even after he meets her ex, Bullet, a large, violent man determined to keep Pate away from “his girl.”
But there are others who accept Pate immediately, like Stormy. An outdoorsy, rugged freshman, Stormy warns Pate away from Maybelle and Bullet, but Pate’s too infatuated to heed these warnings.
Oakley tries to support his friend’s new love but finds himself entangled in his own emotional calamity when he unintentionally falls for Jody, a gay and ostentatiously confident drag queen. This new relationship awakens deep internal conflicts in Oakley as he struggles to accept his bisexuality, lashing out at Pate and causing friction between him and Jody.
Oakley must decide if he can overcome his insecurities so he doesn’t lose the love of his life. And Pate must discover if the love between him and Maybelle is strong enough for her to accept him as a transgender man, or if she will break his heart.
Reader advisory: This book contains references to homophobia, transphobia, physical assault and a past suicide attempt. There is use of marijuana and smoking, as well as mentions of gender dysphoria and past sexual assault.
Pate held up his hand to stop me. “You didn’t pull away when he held your hand. Even he noticed that. You didn’t pull away from his kiss. You think he’s never hit on straight guys before? I think he’d know by now that straight guys pull away—”
“And gay guys don’t?” I asked.
“They don’t if they are interested. Oakley, sexuality is not either/or. Maybe you have some attraction to him. Maybe not toward just any man, but toward him.”
I had been so busy trying to analyze my repulsion toward guys that it had neverdawned on me to consider what made Jody attractive to me. His emerald-green eyes alone were enough to mesmerize anyone. His skin was silky and soft like a woman. His frame was small and delicate. But thinking on it, it wasn’t so much those physical traits as it was his confidence and free spirit. I had never seen a girl perform and light up a room as if she owned it the way Jody had dominated the club in Billings. When he realized that I thought he was a girl when I made the date, his response was calm. He didn’t get offended or even embarrassed. Jody was going to keep being Jody. I hadn’t found that certainty for myself yet.
“It wouldn’t mean anything different than me preferring to stay a feminine guy,” Pate replied, shrugging his shoulder. “It’s not about girl or boy. It’s about the feminine and the masculine that’s in all of us.”
I was fortunate to read a free ARC of GRAYALITY after volunteering to review it and went in with no idea of how much I’d love this book. I never expected to identify so deeply with Pate. There were several times when I just wanted to hug him. Even the references to his anxiety feel cathartic rather than triggering. I appreciated Oakley’s story, as I feel it’s just as relevant and needs to be told. Stormy was a good example of how not everyone in a rural town is a bigot. I adore Jody and like the body positivity around Maybelle despite not liking her character. There’re too many people in the world like Bullet, so no problem with believability there.
The entire book flows well and manages to be an easy read even with the heavy subject matter. It’s so good that I started rereading it the day I finished. It’s been years since I’ve found a book I can connect with, but GRAYALITY has jumped into my top 10 favorite books of any genre. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s ever struggled with their identity or been unfairly judged by society. I’ll be purchasing this book and reading it more than a few times, I’m sure. My only complaint doesn’t pertain to the story itself, but I wish I could have a physical copy in addition to the digital. There are multiple quotable passages of axiomatic wisdom and relatable statements. I found myself highlighting something nearly every chapter. I hope Carey continues to write more books as moving as GRAYALITY. I’ll be waiting to read them.
Goodreads Reader Review
An engaging queer love story of confusion, courage, and self-realization.
In this romance, a young transgender man negotiates his new identity in hopes of finding self-acceptance and love in Montana. Pate Boone is “twenty-six years old and going nowhere” when he leaves his suburban Georgia home and heads to small-town Montana to stay with his old friend Oakley’s grandmother. Oakley had been Pate’s first lover, back in high school when he was called Patricia, in the days before his transition into his male identity. Oakley and his dad had taken Pate in when his parents rejected him, and the two have remained close friends. When Oakley’s Granny needs help following a double mastectomy, Montana seems like the perfect place for Pate to escape the ghost of Patricia and figure out how to navigate the world in a body that only partly affirms his masculine self. After enrolling in the local college, he is thrilled when his first flirty encounter with a student named Maybelle develops into a real dating relationship. There are only two drawbacks: Maybelle has a violently jealous ex, and she doesn’t know that Pate wasn’t assigned a male gender at birth. Things become even more complicated when the solidly heterosexual Oakley finds himself powerfully attracted to Jody, a proud, gay drag queen, leading him to question if he’s really as straight as he thinks he is. PW recounts this deeply personal narrative from both Pate’s and Oakley’s points of view, flipping back and forth from one to the other as the two protagonists trace their separate but linked journeys of self-discovery. Numerous trans issues, such as Pate’s “years of sacrifice and slaving away to scrape together enough funds to pay for my hormones and, eventually, my top surgery”; the suicidal ideation and depression that are side effects of his testosterone injections; and the multiple complications of being a man with a vagina, are woven into a romantic narrative of young love. Pate’s lack of honesty in his relationship with Maybelle is disturbing, if understandable, but the love stories play out with suspenseful tenderness, and the characters’ struggles to come out as “fully human” are persuasive and poignant.
Kirkus Editorial Review