ARC Review – ‘Finding Your Feet’ by Cass Lennox

Title: Finding Your Feet
Authors: Cass Lennox
Genre: LGBT, Romance
Date of Publication: 16th January, 2017
Page Count: 283pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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While on holiday in Toronto, Evie Whitmore planned to sightsee and meet other asexuals, not audition for a dance competition. Now she’s representing Toronto’s newest queer dance studio, despite never having danced before. Not only does she have to spend hours learning her routine, she has to do it with one of the grumpiest men she’s ever met. Tyler turns out to be more than a dedicated dancer, though—he might be the kind of man who can sweep her off her feet, literally and figuratively.

Tyler Davis has spent the last year recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. So he doesn’t need to be pushed into a rushed routine for a dumb competition. Ticking major representation boxes for being trans and biracial isn’t why he went into dance. But Evie turns out to be a dream student. In fact, she helps him remember just how good partnering can be, in all senses of the word. Teaching her the routine, however, raises ghosts for him, ones he’s not sure he can handle.

Plans change, and people change with them. Learning a few steps is one thing; learning to trust again is another entirely.

Disclaimer: I requested this ARC because I myself am asexual and I nearly exploded with excitement when I came across a romance featuring a fellow ace. Because of my higher expectations, the development halfway through the novel which wasn’t consistent with my experience of asexuality lessened my enjoyment factor, but that’s just due to my own baggage. This novel will definitely please those who are interested in reading a cute romance with a wonderfully diverse range of characters.

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There’s a lot to love about Finding Your Feet – the dazzling diversity for starters! I love how modern day literature is starting to catch on that all members of society should be represented, and that’s the case here in no small measure! We have an asexual heroine paired with a trans biracial hero, and the supporting cast of characters are mainly drawn from the LGBT+ community as well. 😀

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I appreciated how the author shed some light on the struggles queer people face without becoming overly preachy about it or turning this into the dreaded ‘after-school special’. There isn’t any exaggerated over-the-top drama or angst piled on top of angst to drive home just how much grief the LGBT+ community can face – there are several stories out there about characters being thrown out of home or abused, etc. when they’ve come out, but I feel like it’s important to also focus on the less obvious microaggressions that go unnoticed because they’re not as openly vicious and bigoted.

Evie recounts her attempts at revealing that she’s asexual to her family, who don’t bother to acknowledge this fact or try to understand her and simply write her off as ‘confused’ and ‘figuring herself out’. It might not be as huge a deal as someone being disowned by their family for being gay, but we’re not playing the Oppression Olympics here, things can be crappy for someone even if it’s not the end of the world and their pain at not being accepted still matters. I totally identify with Evie on this front – when I first tried to talk to my mother about being asexual, she made a crack about ‘so do you photosynthesize?‘ which she thought was HILARIOUS. :/ Because words don’t evolve over time to have different meanings, oh no, just because the commonly known context is in relation to ‘asexual reproduction’, that is the only meaning it can ever have!

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I also thought it was interesting that the author brought up how the LGBT+ community isn’t always as accepting and free of prejudice as one might expect. Sadly, humans are humans, regardless of orientation – there is sometimes a little judgment from gays towards bisexuals for not ‘choosing a side’ or for ‘passing’ when they’re with a partner of the opposite sex. And Evie finds herself having to go on the defensive when she has dinner with fellow aces, one of whom turns out to be a militant activist who expects every single queer person to be out to their friends and family, regardless of circumstance, regardless of whether it’s safe for them or if they’re ready. PSA: it’s up to you to make the decision for yourself when you’re ready to come out, nobody gets to choose for you. It’s not cowardly or letting anyone down if you don’t feel able to come out, you have to be prepared to take that step.

Aside from that, I love that Evie stays with a friend she met over Tumblr, gaybeard-the-great aka Sarah. This is the first time I’ve come across a representation of internet friendships struck over mutual fandoms and it made me flail a little because I was friends with woodchoc_magnum via livejournal for a few years before I flew interstate to spend Easter with her! I shared Evie’s mild panic over agreeing to staying with someone she only knew from online and spinning out over whether it was a huge mistake or not, that felt so real to me. As well as how rewarding and fulfilling it ended up being meeting her online friend in real life at last! ^_^

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The romance was very sweet and fluffy – reading about Evie’s developing feelings for Tyler was a whole new experience for me. Usually novels focus on physical signs of sexual attraction (the ‘taut nipples’ and ‘moistness’ or ‘damp heat’ in one’s genital region, per my trashy romance novels), but I loved how relatable this was to me as an ace when I read about Evie inwardly gushing over Tyler:

‘…the way he moved with her, the way his face lit up and his hands waved when he was inspired, the way he touched her like she had substance and presence and-‘

YES. \o/

I wasn’t a fan of the initial personality conflict between Evie and Tyler – it seemed like it was a pretty flimsy pretext just for the purpose of giving them something to overcome. But once they became friends during their dance rehearsals and their bond strengthened, the growing trust and affection between them was lovely!  🙂

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My main criticism of this book would be that in my view, Evie came off as demisexual, rather than ace. I had to try not to let that color my enjoyment too much – when I first sensed the demi vibes, I put this down out of frustration and turned to another book for a while.It’s not that I’m prejudiced against demis, I promise you I’m not! It’s just that I was excited how for the first time ever, I was going to be reading about a character whose orientation matched my own – I read a lot of romances and simply skim past the sex scenes, so the idea of not having to deal with the protagonist’s sexual attraction to the love interest for a change was so refreshing. I am certainly capable of relating to characters with whom I have little in common (I read books about teenage boys, serial killers, paranormal creatures, etc.) but because I’d been primed to view Evie as asexual and had the expectation of how this would reflect my experiences, it was disappointing that turned out not to be the case.

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Personal Rating: 3 of 5 kitties approve this book.

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Disclaimer: I received a digital ARC free from Riptide Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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