In college, an are you sure youre gay? experiment with his (female) best friend left Sterling Harper married with a baby on the way. Eleven years later, his life is flipped upside-downhis wife has died, his little boy is transitioning to her new life as a girl, Alexa, and his embittered in-laws have proven too transphobic to babysit for the summer like theyd planned. Theyre fighting for custody of Alexa, though, so Sterling cant afford to give them more ammunition. If only there were a nice, conservative, trans-preteen-friendly nanny available on short notice . . .
Jericho Johnston doesnt do conservative, but Alexa takes to him immediately. Hes got a teaching job lined up for the fall, a killer smile, and loads of charisma . . . but he is not going back in the proverbial closet. It doesnt take long for the two men to go from comrades-in-arms against their rarified community to two men in love. This kicks off the looming custody battle with Sterlings bigoted in-laws, though, and the idea of two gay men raising a trans daughter isnt going over well with anyone. Now, with so much to lose, Sterling and Jericho must fight harder than everfor themselves, for Alexa, and for their future.
Praise for Worth Waiting For
A sexy new voice, full of promise. These heroes stole my heart!
Sexy, fun and well written . . . the perfect book for a cozy night at home reading. I cant wait to see what Ms. Qualls has in store for us next.
--J.L. Langley, bestselling author of The Tin Star
A charming, sexy, and beautifully crafted tale that tugs at the heartstrings. Can't wait to read more from this talented author!
Sara Brookes, award-winning author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A very touching book. Worth Fighting For is the third book in the Heart of the South series but it can be read as a standalone. This is the first book I've ever read with such a young transgender character. The blurb for the book describes the story well. Sterling will not allow Alexa's maternal grandparents to care for her during the summer school break because they won't accept her transition. He hires Jericho to be with her and they all get along really well right from the get-go. Alexa is such a sweet girl most of the time. She is on the autism spectrum but that doesn't seem to affect her much unless she gets really upset about something. Jericho is a teacher and he is well equipped to care for Alexa and be the friend she needs to help her deal with the transphobic people she encounters. I felt so bad for her at times especially because of the way her grandparents refused to acknowledge her new name and refuse to accept that she now wants to be identified as female. The romance between Sterling and Jericho is almost secondary to the story about Alexa, but what there is of it is really good. The book has a lot of things going on to get you engaged right away and to keep you engaged until you finish the book. Jericho is a great character and the way he accepts and cares for Alexa is so touching. He is fiercely protective of her when he sees that people won't accept her as she is. The story isn't overly angsty and there are plenty of light-hearted moments to keep it from becoming depressing when things go wrong. I think Wendy Qualls is doing a great job with this series and I hope there will be more books coming. A review copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley but this did not influence my opinion or rating of the book. ***Reviewed for Xtreme-Delusions dot com***
I think this could easily have turned into an after school special sort of book. After all, we’ve got a gay black special ed teacher who’s just back from volunteering in Haiti, a closeted widower, and a trans tween girl with autism, all set in a rich, white Southern neighborhood. However, what we end up with instead is a sweet story about both love and family. When widower Sterling has to look for a summer nanny on short notice – thanks to his in-laws’ complete inability to accept that Alexa is trans, including forcibly cutting her hair – he lucks out with a reference for special needs teacher Jericho, newly arrived back in the States after spending a few years volunteering in Haiti. Not only is he amazing with Alexa, he’s also easy on the eyes, though that’s something that firmly-in-the-closet Sterling tries to ignore. As the summer progresses, though, and they find themselves acting more like a family than a nanny and his employer, both Jericho and Sterling must decide whether what they have has to end with the summer, or whether they’re willing to fight for their new love. I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a ton of experience with trans people, especially trans kids, but it felt like everything was handled with sensitivity. Sterling was, in some ways, the poster dad for how to handle a trans kid, and Jericho seemed perfectly placed with ties to the community to help both him and Alexa. At times she did seem too mature for her age, but I’ve found that to be true with some kids on the spectrum. Alexa hesitated to tell her dad just how badly the kids at school were treating her – just how badly her grandparents were treating her – out of not wanting to burden him anymore. Where Sterling failed, though, Jericho was there to fill in the gaps. One of the sweet things about them as a couple was how well they complemented each other, plus their romance was absolutely adorable. Yes, there’s lots of chemistry and it’s plenty steamy, but the moments that stuck with me are the adorable ones – for instance, them holding hands during sex. Even as their romance progressed, though, they both understood why Sterling wanted to keep it secret, and why it couldn’t continue past the summer. My biggest pet peeve with the book was that the grandparents were just so stereotypically bad people. While care was taken to point out that their bigotry was not religiously motivated – they’re the kind of people who attend church more because it’s simply what the right sort of people do rather than out of any sort of actual faith – they’re not only blatantly transphobic but also racist and homophobic, going as far as to basically accuse Jericho of being a pedophile. Honestly, I would’ve preferred if they’d been a bit more gray morally – if they’d been portrayed as people who deeply loved Alexa but just struggled with ingrained prejudices and truly thought they were doing what was right for their grandkid. As it was, we’re left more with the sense that the only reason they had any relationship with her was because it was the thing to do. A more minor quibble was that the “black moment” happened so late in the book that there was very little time left to resolve both it and the big custody battle. Overall, this was such a lovely, inclusive romance, and I will definitely be looking forward to Ms. Qualls’ next book!
m/m Worth Fighting For is a heartwarming story of a single father and his trans daughter trying to find their way. When his ex’s parents refuse to accept his child presenting as female Sterling Harper has to find new plans for his daughter for over the summer. Enter Jericho Johnston a teacher who has experience with trans adults and special needs kids. Mr. J takes on the job of nanny for the summer. I fell for Alexa and really liked Mr. J. Dr. Harper took a bit longer for me to warm up to. This is a sweet, sometimes heartbreaking tale of love and acceptance and though it is part of a series can be read standalone.
Worth Fighting For by Wendy Qualls Heart of the South #3 I had more trouble wrapping my mind around this book than the one that came before it. You have a LOT of information shared that can educate someone new to the genre BUT perhaps too much at times. The idea that this would be a story focusing on a custody case between widowed father and his in-laws was not the main focus that I thought it would be and in some ways dealt with too briefly. The romance was so-so but I really didn’t see what the two saw in one another…sure…they had a nice home life when Jericho came in to nanny for Sterling’s transgender daughter Alexa and there was attraction between the men but I didn’t really understand the deeper connection. I also did not understand Sterling. Why? Okay, he was definitely in the closet except to a few people BUT before he could rally explore his sexuality he was with a woman, she was pregnant and he gave up all he could be for his daughter. Sure, his wife Dana was his “friend” but I really don’t know what the couple had to make their lives plod on for a decade except the child they had together. So, in thinking about this book it is hard to really decide what I thought. I did like it in some ways but felt it could have been so much more if Sterling and Jericho talked more, if Alexa was perhaps not also dealing with Asperberger Syndrome on top of the transgender issue, if Sterling was a bit stronger character…with his mother he should have been, I think. Anyway, I liked it well enough to finish but really wondered how realistic it would be and if a story like this could or would ever happen in real life. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books – Lyrical Shine for the ARC – This is my honest review. 3 Stars