Review #122 // Ace of Hearts – Caitlin Ricci

Ace of Hearts

While show jumping, an accident kills Ashton’s horse Atreyu. While grieving, he moves to a new house, and meets his neighbor Ty, who used to help run a horse riding therapy center. Ty, realizing who his new neighbor was, wants to be friends, no matter how much Ashton tries to push him away.


Why this book?: A romance between a trans guy and an ace horse show jumper? This is like a dream come true!!!

I would like to thank the people at Less Than Three Press for allowing me to have an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m just really disappointed right now. I was really looking forward to this book, because who else has heard of a romance with a trans guy and an ace guy, with horses and puppies?! But, in the end, I felt more hurt than anything by this book.

The story idea was nice, and I was really excited for a romance with puppies and horses! The writing was good to go along with the story, but the dialogue was a little stilted, and a little unnatural. But that wasn’t my biggest problem.

I guess I had really high hopes, but the moment the two characters met, I knew something was going to go wrong. Ty and Ashton first meet when Ashton sees Ty buy tampons, because of course we always have to have clues and tells that this person could be trans. Ashton only realizes that Ty is trans when the puppy Ty is playing with pushes up his shirt to show top surgery scars. I can’t really stand when someone is outted by accident by anything other than themself. There was a level of casualness that I appreciated, but after this “accidental trans reveal”, I was really “eeehhhmmm” about this book.

The second strike was the actual relationship. In the summary, it tells how Ty is persistent in becoming Ashton’s friend, but that’s not really how it goes. It’s more like this: Ty tries talking to Ashton, Ashton tells him to go away. Ty ignores him, and talks about horses. Ashton gets angry, yells at Ty, and leaves. The cycle then starts over, and more often then not, Ty continues to push Ashton until he gives up and talks about horses. The relationship was extremely unhealthy, especially when Ashton starts yelling at Ty. They were constantly arguing with each other, and I just found myself avoiding this book rather than enjoying it. If the book has more arguing than romance, is it still a romance?

Strike three is what bothered me the most.

“When Ty kissed him, Ashton reached for him, bringing his hands around Ty’s back and pulling him close. It was nice not feeling an erection rubbing against him when he kissed someone. Before, that had always bothered him. It was a reminder that he wasn’t like other guys, but also a reminder that as much as people said they understood about him not being interested in sex, their bodies always gave them away. They couldn’t help it, and Ashton tried not to hold their arousal against them, but sometimes that was easier said than done. But with Ty, he didn’t have to worry about any of that, and he kept kissing Ty for a lot longer than he’d normally kissed other guys he had in the past.”

As someone who is both ace and trans, I had to step back from this. This is basically proclaiming how different trans men are from cis men, and why an ace guy likes that. Reading this was so othering, because, Ty is a guy, and just because he’s AFAB doesn’t mean shit. And what really bothered me is that, after this scene, Ashton asks Ty if he needs to go masturbate before they go out on their date.

Ashton was so untrusting of Ty, probably from his past relationships and how he was forced into having sex, but it just seemed like he unnecessarily threw all of his anger at Ty. With all of this anger, I really didn’t see how this book could have a happily ever after, or even just a happy ending for both of the characters. I was 70% through the book, and I still didn’t see the romance. In fact, I was more uncomfortable if anything.

Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall?

The idea of this book was really cute. The ace rep was actually really accurate, especially when Ashton would say how other ace people might like sex, but that he specifically didn’t. But I can’t ignore everything else that this book did horribly. The trans rep made me uncomfortable, the relationship made me uncomfortable, and the othering of both being trans and ace made me uncomfortable.

Would I Recommend?

I personally wouldn’t recommend it. I’m sorry, but the entirety of this book just made me uncomfortable. I was so excited for this book, but I ended up DNF-ing at around 75%. Normally I would have just powered through, but then there was another argument (this time with Ashton’s mother involved) and I just. Couldn’t.

Trigger warning for referenced accident, referenced animal death, referenced sexual corecion, referenced transmisia, referenced acemisia, unhealthy relationships, controlling parents, depression, thoughts of self hatred, trans othering, and ace othering.


Ace of Hearts

Additional Information:

Published: September 27th, 2017

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Page Count: 91

Genre: Romance

Synopsis: via Goodreads

Ashton lived for show jumping, until an accident killed his horse, Atreyu, and left him unable to ride. He blames himself for Atreyu’s death and has sworn off horses. Rubbing salt in the wound, his boyfriend and friends were okay with Ashton being ace, but not with his retirement. His mom has purchased him a house with acreage in the hopes that he won’t give up on horses entirely, and a puppy, Leia, but neither is able to pull him out of his depression.

Ty lives next door, and it’s a dream come true to find his idol is his new neighbor. Ashton wants nothing to do with him, but being trans in a largely-unaccepting world has made Ty stubborn, and he’s long-used to dealing with people who are hurting, so it’s going to take more than Ashton can muster to push him away.

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