Review: The Gift of Gravity by Sage C. Holloway

In The Gift of Gravity, Julian Shaw abandons his comfort zone for inner-city Milwaukee in search of his friend Katie, an at-risk transgender teen he only knows through email. He’s hit a dead end when he meets rebellious, mohawked Dashiell Sutherland. Dashiell, who knows far more about runaway teens than Julian, doesn’t want to get involved in this sure-to-be heartbreaking search. He certainly doesn’t want to like the reserved, disowned trans rich-kid with his Penthouse-stack of issues. But, somehow, he finds himself doing both. Every bit as gritty as you’d expect from a genre-bending opposites-attract trans romantic suspense, Sage C. Holloway’s The Gift of Gravity still achieves the breathless sweetness of a first true love.

Julien has come back to Milwaukee, in search of a friend who has gone missing. Socially awkward, and shy beyond reason, his first day searching leads him to a tattoo parlor where he bumps into Dash. Dash is a jerk, owns it, and lives by it. He doesn't take too kindly to the awkward redhead bumping into him. And now that redhead seems to be appearing everywhere Dash is, which irritates him even while he can't stop poking to see if there is any strength inside the shy and overly polite man. An unlikely friendship ensues, as Dash reluctantly helps Julien piece together the clues of Katie’s disappearance, and when Julien’s abusive boyfriend does the unthinkable, Julien runs to Dash for help, deepening their relationship and opening Julien’s eyes to some hard truths about his expectations in a partnership.

I loved this. Both characters really owned this story, and came together in a weirdly organic way. Julien is two years post trans and has settled for a boyfriend who treats him like crap, because he doesn't think he can get any better.

Dash's caustic attitude brings out the fire inside Julien, and their interaction is both disturbing at times, and comedic. I enjoyed the lighter touches to this otherwise intense read.

Dash's damage is pretty horrific. He is emotionally stunted, and has thick walls he has no intentions of lowering for anyone. I really understood his pain, and why he created his titanium shields. I enjoyed the journey of Julien getting underneath those shields in little ways, and drawing out the tender heart inside.

There is a fair bit of angst in this story. It touches on some pretty heavy topics. Teen homelessness, prostitution, rape, and emotional abuse are all topics you'll find in here. It is not thick with despair but it's enough to draw parallel with reality, and the prevalence of homelessness among LGBT youth.

There was a particularly difficult part in this story relating to body dysmorphia, and the triggers from ignorant remarks people make regarding trans people. For all the difficult subject matter in this story, that made me cry.

There is plenty of light in this novel, plenty of hope. Solid relationship and character building made these two characters very believable. I was thoroughly invested in this story and these two men.

The intimacy was beautiful, and the sex was sizzling. Dash didn't have any hangups surrounding Julian’s different body parts, and was very enthusiastic in his exploration. This helped Julien come out of his shell a little more, as he handed over trust of his body to Dash. It was compelling and endearing.

The only real complaint I have is that I wanted more from the ending. I was captivated by both men and thought the ending was a little rushed, not giving a clear picture of their future. I would love a sequel to this story so I could see more of the heart inside Dash. His character had the potential to be amazing, and his care of others was something that made me fall in love with him, even though his attitude could sometimes be just shy of horrible.

A great read, and a story that will stick with me for a while. I recommend this to all readers who enjoy stories with slightly heavier topic content. This is not fluffy, but it won't shatter your heart (much).

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

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