After two years together, Alex has been dreading the inevitable moment when Damon learns the truth: that Alex is a shifter, part of a small percentage of the population able to switch genders at will. Thanks to a forced implant, though, Alex is suddenly static—unable to shift—and male. Overnight, he’s out to a world that neither understands nor tolerates shifters . . . and to his heterosexual boyfriend.
Damon is stunned to discover his girlfriend is a shifter, and scared to death of the dangers the implant poses to Alex’s health. He refuses to abandon Alex, but what about their relationship? Damon is straight, and with the implant both costly and dangerous to remove, Alex is stuck as a man.
Stripped of half his identity and facing serious physical and social ramifications, Alex needs Damon more than ever, but he doesn’t see how they can get through this.
Especially if he’s static forever.
This ranks as one of my all time favorite books in this genre.
I can’t say enough good things about this – but I’ll try!
First – it’s sort of a unique shifter book. Instead of shifting into animals, in this world that LA Witt has created, some people can change their sex at will. Not just the important pieces, but their entire bodies. So they become more masculine, larger, muscular, etcetera for male and smaller, more delicate, etcetera for female. But like fraternal twins, they still retain that look about them so you can see the resemblance.
In this case Alex (both female and male version) is dating Damon as a woman. Damon doesn’t know about the male Alex and this causes a lot of worry as to how to go about telling him. The point becomes moot when Alex’s parents decide to force her to stay permanently male, or “static” by injecting an evil chip into her spine. Of course they have no knowledge of Alex’s female love-life, only a desire to have a son and NOT to have someone who can shift genders.
There is the possibility of removing the chip but it has the potential for disaster, paralysis, death, dismemberment – ok not really – but also continuing the static state. Some people choose this treatment voluntarily but not Alex. S/he has always enjoyed the huge freedom allowed by being able to be one then the other gender. And since she thinks she may be in love with her straight boyfriend, being stuck as a man is particularly harsh.
But… the time comes when Alex must show Damon the truth of the situation. And here is where things really get to be interesting on both a plot level and a sociological level. (This is what makes this book spectacular IMHO – the bringing in so flawlessly the social construct of gender identity and the breakdown of what it means to be woman or man – especially when – in this case – it’s the same person wearing a different “skin”.)
Damon really does care for – maybe even love Alex – so he’s willing to at least try to work through this crisis and see it through. He doesn’t know what he wants. For Alex to go through with the reversal surgery? To try to be with a man when he’s only ever identified as straight? To give up and let Alex do this alone? But no, he’s an amazing person and sticks with it.
The story is so full of social questions. There’s prejudice. There’s the discussion of what if feels like to be in the “wrong body”. There’s the gay/straight/person centric version of sexual attraction. There’s – Gah! So much!
In the end the two lovers must make a decision. Should Alex attempt the surgery and is the risk worth it.
I won’t tell you the final decision but it is thought provoking – to say the least.
LA Witt won some awards for this – as she should have – and I can see why. It’s so amazing, her ability to hit you with these social question while still weaving a beautiful and touching and sometimes erotic love story. Superb!
If you have any interest in transgender and gender fluidity or gender ID this is right up your alley. It also fulfills something for those GFY fans. But it’s still, at it’s heart, a love story and a story of knowing one’s heart – so truly, any fan of romance will be entranced.
I can’t recommend it highly enough!
6 of 5 stars
Copy purchased for review