Genre: New Adult Romance.
Well, I found this a really curious, odd story and the least odd thing about it was Daniele’s intersex. That I could and did accept happily, it was other parts of the story I found difficult to believe…
So we meet Daniele and Melanie. Their mums have been long time friends, and the girls grew up close to each other. Melanie spent some time living with Danièle and her family when her mum was very ill. They were then in their early teens and Danièle was still deciding who she was, and had decided to be Dani, a boy who Melanie fell in love with. Then something happens and the two are kept apart for the next five years.
Now they’re 19 and Daniele is engaged to Ethan and staying with Melanie and her family prior to some genital surgery to make her look more “female”. Its pretty major, removing her oversize clitoris/post and means she won’t have any feelings there – a huge loss…but she wants to feel “normal” for Ethan. Now they’re back together Melanie still loves Dani the boy that was, but accepts Danièle as who she is with all her extras. Seems she’s the only one though. Her parents ostensibly want her to choose, to be happy, but seem to see it has to be male or female, she can’t just be how she is and Daniele adores them and can feel her mum is happier when she’s a Proper Young Lady. That kind of pressure is insidious and all to real, doing what someone else wants just to please them.
We don’t see much of Ethan but I don’t like him, they met when she was in UK for a year at Uni, have only know each that long and somehow he’s become her fiancé, and he’s kind of bull dozing his way into her family. That’s how it feels to me, he seems more interested in what can move his career forward than what’s best for Daniele…He wants them to have a family and so Melanie agrees to be a surrogate for them – and there’s some hiccups in store there.
That’s where it kind of goes wrong for me. Its all happening at once, no long discussions, no real checking on family and histories and intentions. No legal meetings and checking they understand exactly what will happen. How could Melanie’s mum be so happy about what was going on? Her daughter was getting broken hearted again and again and this would simply lead to more for her. What ethical Doctors or Psychologists would agree to IVF and surrogacy when the girls are still young – 19/20 ish, and there’s so much mixed history. They’ve not seen each other for five years and then, wham, all this?
Then later when more things happen – and I can’t explain without spoilers, but I just couldn’t see it being real. Its a shame because its an interesting potential story, and covered some really valuable points about sexuality, people who aren’t strongly male or female and perceptions of what is “normal”. Add on the subtle pressure from those who love you and should want what’s best, who can – even unwittingly – exert undue influence on a decision then its a real tragedy how some people have to live.
Stars:Three, its got a nice ending but all that happens to get to that point is just too much to believe in, not credible given the legalities and I just couldn’t take the story.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
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