For the Love of April French, by Penny Aimes

26 Jan
Cover of For The Love Of April French, showing a while woman with slightly square jaw and long blonde hair looking out to the viewer with intense, almost sad eyes

I got this one because author K. J. Charles tweeted a link to her review, so I read the sample, and then proceded to read the book in one sitting. This is a lovely, soft, sweet story about two lovely, soft, sweet people, and while there’s a bleak moment, it’s very much in context with the story and the characters, and it’s not unduly drawn out.

Please note that there’s explicit sex and adult language in this novel; I recommend reading the content warnings, as there’s kink and a Dominant/submissive relationship; also, there’s transmisogyny and incidents of misgendering.

For the Love of April French, by Penny Aimes

You have a thirty-something white woman sitting at a bar, in comes a thirty-something Black man looking for company, sparks fly, and feelings develop quickly. Then the world, as it’s wont to do, gets in the way.

Here, have a blurb:

April French doesn’t do relationships and she never asks for more.

A long-standing regular at kink club Frankie’s, she’s kind of seen it all. As a trans woman, she’s used to being the scenic rest stop for others on their way to a happily-ever-after. She knows how desire works, and she keeps hers carefully boxed up to take out on weekends only.

After all, you can’t be let down if you never ask.

Then Dennis Martin walks into Frankie’s, fresh from Seattle and looking a little lost. April just meant to be friendly, but one flirtatious drink turns into one hot night.

When Dennis asks for her number, she gives it to him.

When he asks for her trust, well…that’s a little harder.

And when the desire she thought she had such a firm grip on comes alive with Dennis, April finds herself wanting passion, purpose and commitment.

But when their relationship moves from complicated to impossible, April will have to decide how much she’s willing to want.

The writing flows so well, I was engrossed in the story again when I opened it to check a couple of details. The author gives the relationship time to develop, as the story spans months, and it shows all the parts that make the whole, in ways that both warm your heart and break it.

The characterization is excellent, written from the deep point of view of the protagonists in alternating chapters, then sections, and it works really well to invite the reader in–okay, to reel the reader in. Did I mention I read this in one sitting, on a work night, and was sucked into reading it again just now while writing this review?

While immediately attracted to each other, both April and Dennis are working through personal issues; she, insecurities from her transition and the fall out of her divorce. He, working through the guilt of a pretty serious fuckup in his own previous relationship. Developing trust is a process; sharing compatible kinks is one thing. Trusting the other with the more painful parts of their baggage is entirely another, and small, of-the-moment decisions, have lasting consequences.

One of the decisions April makes early on, one dictated by fear, leads to the bleak moment in a way that’s completely realistic and heartbreaking. Because her fears are not unreasonable, and there’s that emotional baggage. When life hasn’t been kind, fear is your one dependable travelling companion.

There’s community, there are friendships of long standing, and casual friends who, it turns out, care deeply. There’s the family you are born to and the family you make, the miracle when they’re the same, and the pain when they’re not.

The author addresses head-on many things that are often handwaved in genre romance: race, money, the very rea life and career consequences of kink and of not fitting in a society that demands straight binary roles, and she does it in a way that does not bog down the narrative, or preaches at the reader. These are things the characters think and talk about, because April is a queer white trans woman with a limited budget living in Texas, and Dennis is a straight cis male Black millionaire in the United States. They live in this world, not in a magical bubble.

This is Ms Aimes publishing debut, and if there’s any justice in the world, she’ll have a very successful writing career.

For the Love of April French gets 9.25 out of 10.

* * * *

A note about the cover: I really like the model as April; she’s who I see in the writing, especially the eyes. But I resent some that we do not see Dennis with her. I would have loved to see him standing behind April, looking at her, seeing her, the way he does in the book, with love and hunger. She deserves that.

3 Responses to “For the Love of April French, by Penny Aimes”

  1. whiskeyinthejar 29/01/2022 at 11:22 AM #

    This one sounds good, sounds kind of touching those emotional nerves with the delving into real world aspects.

    “I would have loved to see him standing behind April, looking at her, seeing her, the way he does in the book, with love and hunger. She deserves that.”

    This description made me thirsty for this cover version, lol.


  1. Genre romance: expressing our values, sharing our myth | Her Hands, My Hands - 30/01/2022

    […] have just reviewed a most wonderful, sweet, fluffy genre romance about a white trans woman and a straight Black man, that faces all these things head-on. […]

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