Romance Book Review: For the Love of April French by Penny Aimes

Romance Book Review

For the Love of April French
Penny Aimes
Publication Date: Aug. 31 2021
Publisher: Carina Adores
Genres: Romance
Shelves: Transgender

For a sweet, happily-ever-after romance, For the Love of April French hit me hard. Beneath the romance, behind the power-exchange erotica, and underneath the questions of privilege and prejudice, there's an exploration of self-esteem and self-acceptance that absolutely gutted me. There's so much of April's internal trauma that resonated with me, going right to my heart, that reading this left me in a dark, contemplative place for a few days.

Having climbed back out of that place, full of as many questions as revelations, I can honestly say that I unequivocally loved this book. Penny Aimes explores the story from both April and Dennis' points of view, with story threads that overlap, showing how each of them saw things and responded to them. The extended timeline is a bit odd for a romance, but perfectly fitting for a power-exchange story built on edging and orgasm denial.

I loved the pairing of a self-made millionaire and a self-made woman, one having lived a lifetime of prejudice because of his race, the other because of her gender. Both have their own character arcs of self-realization and self-improvement within the story, and it's all tied directly into the power-exchange. That element adds a whole new layer to the story, and Aimes captures it beautifully, going beyond bondage and punishment to explore the emotional bond between Dominant and submissive, complete with safewords and aftercare. It really brought the story to life for me, and it's a big part of why I identified so strongly with April.

Getting back to April, Aimes takes an honest, realistic approach to building out her character, and I love her for doing it. She's not some perfect, plastic, pretty girl. She deals with passing, struggles with her voice, and suffers through the pain of all-day electrolysis. Despite all that, she is happy with who she has become. Dennis loves her for who she is, inside and out, and supports her through all of it, which makes him just about the world's most perfect Dominant and lover. Aimes could have played it safe, she could have pandered to a cis vanilla audience who might have had an easier time accepting a perfect heroine, but it wouldn't be the same book, and it wouldn't have half the emotional impact.

Finally, I have to give credit to the wider cast. Whether it's in the office or the kink club, there's also a lovely cast of supporting characters who bring some added resonance to the story, including April's pregnant coworker (who I loved), a lesbian BDSM couple (who I adored), and a cis submissive (who I came to respect). For the Love of April French is an unusual romance, but it works on all levels, and should resonate with a wide range of readers.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ 

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.