Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Length: Short Story
I must admit I hesitated over the writing of this review. There were many reasons for that, but the main one was that I respect these two authors Ethan Stone and Sara York immensely and never in a million years expected their partnering to create such a lovely story. However, along that same vein I was also hopeful that the short story they put together would end a bit more strongly than it did—with as much energy and tension as the first three-fourths of the story had displayed. So before I get into that, let me unpack this delightfully sexy and compelling story, Transparency by Ethan Stone and Sara York.
For a good portion of Taylor’s life he was a man trapped inside a female’s body. Now undergoing the transition and growing stronger each day, Taylor is learning how to live as a transgender male. Every day he fights both outward prejudices and inward doubts. He forces himself to repeatedly find his self-worth and look beyond the fact that he will never be completely physically male and hopes that one day he will find a man who will accept him for who he is and how he appears. In the meantime, he frequents an adult toy store and finds his escape from reality on his knees at a glory hole where he can taste what he desires and pretend there is someone who can love him.
On one such occasion he sees a tall bear-like stud across the store and follows him into the back room. Hoping it is this man who he kneels in front of as he pleasures the stranger, Taylor envisions himself in the arms of his bear of a lover. Racing out after so that the stranger does not realize Taylor has no way to reciprocate and have his own pleasure through the hole, he escapes without seeing the man emerge. On a repeat visit, he catches the man’s eye again and this time deliberately invites him back to the solitary rooms. After he finishes with him, Taylor tries to escape only to find his way blocked and so, he meets Charlie, who is destined to learn all his secrets. Taylor, frightened at the thought of losing a man he is so infatuated with, grapples with what to tell Charlie. Will Charlie react like all the others, with disgust and derision? Only time will tell…
I was enthralled from the first line of this story. With every moment, every small and big emotional moment that Taylor moves through, I found myself falling further and further into the plot, my mind and heart fully engaged. There was such an air of vulnerability to both men. I loved the idea that a bear of a man like Charlie loved to submit and be controlled by a smaller man. I loved that he was so sure of himself that he could let go and give over the reigns to Taylor so completely. For Taylor, it is the idea that finally he had met someone who could look beyond the physical and see the man within—the dominant and needful man that was waiting to be discovered and loved. Everything was right about this story, the dialogue sharp, the characters fully fleshed out and believable, and the story tight and compelling. Then the two men came together and after, the ending seemed rushed, too good to be true, and just a bit too sweet to be palatable.
Transparency was such a good story—it just needed a few more chapters to really be complete. The idea that any and all concerns with Taylor being trans and Charlie never having even entertained the idea of being with such a man before were suddenly nonexistent simply didn’t ring true in a story that had so carefully immersed itself in truth from the beginning. I hope this team of writers continues their partnership and gives us a longer novel to enjoy. Separately these authors always entertain but together they are magic—with a chemistry that cannot be beat.
What Transparency lacked in the end was mostly made up for by a really clever and emotional story that delivered again and again. I look forward to more from the writing team of Ethan Stone and Sara York.