Published by Empress Books
Released on January 20, 2020
What if a person who has never felt comfortable in his body and is living in private misery with the love of his life gets the opportunity for a reset? On 9/11 the unthinkable happened, but it is only the catalyst for the rest of Brett and Jess Cooper’s story. This certainly had a unique set up and I was eager because one of the main characters is a trans woman which there just aren’t as many stories about.
Finding Tranquility opens with a present day situation for a hotel manager, Christa, who stumbles right into the past she left behind when she looks into the face of Jess Cooper and they recognize each other.
Dropping back into the past, Brett Cooper is being driven to the airport by his wife to go to an interview for a job he doesn’t even want in a place he doesn’t want to live all to please his wife who has the opportunity to go to medical school out in LA. Terrified of flying and going through a panic attack, he decides at the last minute to give up his ticket and skip the interview. While sitting in a coffee shop trying to figure out what he’ll say to Jess, the news shows his plane flying into one of the twin towers. After the shock and guilt of not being on that plane wears off, he takes this weird gift for a chance to figure his life out and start over. Everyone, including his wife thinks he’s dead. And, after a journey of the heart that took him to the Tranquility B&B in Vermont, Brett Cooper is dead and Christa is born. Is there regret and loss? Absolutely, Jess will always be the love of her life but she has never felt so settled and right.
Jess mourned her husband and childhood sweetheart. She barely got herself together and went on with her dream of med school and her practice. Everyone wants her to find a new man, but they all fall short. She’s still in love with Brett. Then, when she is on holiday, there is Brett- Christa. What is she supposed to do with this? So many emotions. And, to say it’s complicated is the understatement of a life time.
This was a story that I just knew was going to get all kinds of emotional and touch on some hard subject matter. And, it did, but it was also written with hope and light so that I could mourn and grieve and be confused with both, but also feel the love and friendship that tied two people from childhood. Love doesn’t care about gender, but it was a tough road to reaching such an understanding. My heart grieved for both Brett who was caught in expectations that were slowly killing him. He knew that every day was a lie and only a drastic change would end that. It was also heartbreaking that Jess had to suffer through the death of the man she loved and find a way to forgive that and understand.
The emotions were the drive of the story, but it explores more than that. The cultural danger of being trans, the social difficulties, health choices, and of course, legal matters. Brett/Christa also ran into further complications in a surprise twist of the story. There is another surprise complication that both Christa and Jess had to figure out and I’ll say no more about.
This is a romance, but not the typical romance formula. Love was already there, but then it had to break and reinvent itself on a long journey to love of who they truly were on the inside (if that makes sense). They have to get through so much and get things sorted out which takes up the entire book so if your just looking for a sexy story, this isn’t it.
I only had one niggle. It stuck with me because the author referenced it several times and it contradicted what was happening. Brett and Jess lived somewhere near Boston and Brett ended up running to Vermont. The author describes both places multiple times as liberal and enlightened when it comes to the LGBT community. But, in both places, Brett/Christa is set upon and beat up when there wasn’t even PDA going on, Christa and Jess are harassed and pushed around at a high school football game where other families come from the LGBT community and aren’t being threatened and abused, a relative is ganged up on and beat up, neighbors are selling their homes and moving away, and all the Christians are practically foaming at the mouth. I could see some of that being a real possibility, but all of it? Especially when some of the abusers were college kids who I find are generally speaking more open-minded than older adults. I know, I know, this is fiction and the story must have conflict and tension so I need to stop nitpicking.
All in all, this was a beautiful, touching, and complicated story that I was heartily glad I was able to read. If you like slow-build, thought-provoking, tough romance situations in an LGBT romance, pick this one up.
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