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From the PublisherHeart of Change was a surprisingly good find for me. While not a perfect story by any means, the author managed to keep this contemporary interesting enough for me to keep reading and care about the characters. The overall feeling I had about this book was that it was enjoyable and affected me on many levels. It’s mainly a story about growth and opening up to new possibilities through love.
Heart of Change started out great for me. I’m partial to a female protagonist who works in a profession considered immoral (sex trade) and who openly enjoys it. I especially like it when there’s no stereotypical justification given for it either to make the reader more sympathetic or comfortable like: using funds for school, an abusive past, they are psychologically damaged, etc. I’d rather read a character who unabashedly loves being a whore, stripper, or in this case, a porn star and makes no excuses.
This story is written in first person present tense, which normally is hard for me to read. However, this gave significant insight into Simone’s head. She’s a deep and real person, not some fluffy bimbo. She gets that her relationship with Simon is hurting her. But she also has an attachment to him that she just can’t shake. Simone also self reflects about her life in general and how she acts, taking full responsibility for her actions, which is a character trait I admire.
She loves being a porn star and has been able to compartmentalize that sex as just work having nothing to do with love and relationships. And it really hasn’t made her jaded about men and sex, although at the same time, because of it, she won’t date. I felt it good that she wasn’t portrayed as a flaky sex maniac, but as someone who has some self discipline and makes her own choices.
Simone has been meeting up with a group of lesbians at a bar for 6 years every Friday night. This I liked also because I think it’s unusual that a group of lesbians would befriend a porn star, the very type of woman who perpetuates woman as sex objects, which those lesbian friends find objectionable. However, personally, I love the idea that people can meet as humans and go beyond differences like that to be friends. So this is also something I got off on in this story. Simone is made to feel welcome and comfortable even if she’s doing something they detest and she doesn’t hide or make excuses. They all accept each other knowing exactly what’s going on.
Another break in the usual is that Geri, out of all the lesbian friends, is the most serious and intimidating and she scares Simone because she’s been the most outspoken against what Simone does. And yet, it’s Geri who Simone starts feeling something for and thinks is the most beautiful. Since we don’t get into the head of Geri due to POV, it’s hard to tell where she’s coming from. But she’s written as having some gender identification issues, which I also enjoyed because she wasn’t just a stereotypical butch type of lesbian.
Geri herself is a top who likes to pack (wears a strap-on while going out), but feels self conscious about it. She’s very male-ish in her appearance but she never comes across as an aggressive butch type. In fact, she’s got her own stuff going on and is more insecure and tender than aggressive, even when she’s being dominant. She’s as complex a character as Simone and is vulnerable with relationship issues as well. So none of this is stereotypical, but came across as real. I feel most people are usually complex with huge contradictions so I like to read characters that don’t act in stereotypical ways. In this book that’s what we get.
How Geri and Simone get together is very sweetly written. It’s rather poignant and emotionally honest, both of them feeling something for each other but both in foreign worlds; Simone never having been with a woman or even attracted to a woman, and Geri having feelings for a straight woman and a woman who does something Geri detests.
Because of the attraction and love both women feel, they are forced to re-evaluate their own personal reality and what is true for them. For instance, not knowing the “lesbian” rules, Simone does something sexual to Geri that normally as a top she would never allow, but feels OK to let Simone do. And for Simone, being with Geri gets her in touch with that part of her that wants sex to mean something deep and spiritual.
I think because both women are so out of their normal element, they can allow themselves to change and open up to new things about themselves that they normally wouldn’t do when operating in their normal worlds. The idea that change and growth can happen in love is big in this story, which was a positive for me.
Obviously since this review is really long, there was a lot in it for me. It touched me on several levels and was not a easy breezy fluffy love story. While there is lots of sex in this story, I was more affected by the relationship dynamics and feelings between the women. I definitely recommend Heart of Change for anyone who wants a good f/f story that's not just about the sex.