Staying Her: A Transgender Romance
Staying Her: A Transgender Romance
True love doesn’t burn, it smolders. Or, at least that’s what James had always thought. That is until he meets Kirsty, a beautiful and enigmatic woman with emerald hair. There’s only one problem: Kirsty is actually a man – a man who happens to spend every waking moment of his time as a girl – but a man nonetheless. Well, that and the fact that James is in a relationship, one that he doesn’t plan on getting out of anytime soon.
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"James and Kirsty sat on the couch in her living room; two ostensibly broken people who, for just a few hours, had made each other feel decidedly less so."
"She was funny; she was interesting; she was very pretty; and each moment he spent with her made him want to spend another."
“That’s what I thought. Because it doesn’t matter how nice you are or how much of a bitch she is, the real woman always beats the trans-girl.”
"The kiss which they had very nearly shared was nothing more than a distant memory now, but neither of them experienced any regret. They were friends – very close friends – but nothing more."
Genre: Transgender romance
Length: 68,000 words
Format: eBook (download includes a .mobi, and .epub file)
Release date: 23/5/2017
Tags: transgender, MTF as main character, Australia, humor, angst, transphobia, breast implants, hormones, crossdressing, coming out
Staying Her is set in the Hawkesbury, a beautiful valley near the Australian Blue Mountains.
Skye sandwiched her face between her palms. “Watch out!” she cried, just before James raised the nose of the tiny helicopter, averting a horrific, miniature collision with the TV antenna.
As Skye clutched her heart, James smiled. “I’m gonna see what the range is like.”
Manipulating the control expertly, James guided the helicopter across the lawn, over the pine trees, and toward the mountains. As the helicopter grew smaller and smaller, James noticed that the mountains were particularly clear this morning, almost free of the blue haze which usually obscured them. They always looked like that after a good drenching such the one they’d gotten last night. Their features vivid and clear, the Blue Mountains were quite a sight.
Despite having only gotten a couple of hours sleep since returning from his walk last night, James felt alert. Closing his eyes, he took in the moist, warm air of the morning, breathing as much as he could in. Then, he opened his eyes, and almost dropped the controller as he mashed its buttons to avoid a collision with a distant windmill.
“I think you’d better bring her back now,” Skye said, sliding her arms around James’ elbow and pulling him to her.
The helicopter was now little more than a speck in the distance, and so James agreed. He turned the toy around.
Skye checked her watch. Nick would be arriving shortly to pick her up. While James wasn’t particularly happy about her spending the day hanging out with the guy, he was glad to have been spared having to spend half the day taking her home. Today, he wanted to get some writing done. With Skye gone and Kiera not around to disturb the solitude, all the pieces were in place for James to have a productive day.
James landed the helicopter, just as the rhythmic sound of a thunderous bassline grew louder and louder in the driveway. Eventually, the source of the noise settled at the base of that driveway, and then quieted. Nick had arrived.
A few minutes later, James found himself leaning against the guy’s ute, talking to his girlfriend as she strapped herself into the passenger seat. For a moment there, James could have sworn that Nick was staring at Skye’s breasts, but then he realized that he was just reading the writing on her shirt. It was at that moment that James came up with an excellent theory explaining how those kinds of shirts came to be invented.
“Take good care of her, mate,” James said to Nick, acknowledging in his mind how bizarre those words were in that situation.
“Will do, bro,” Nick replied in the unpleasant, nasally voice typical of some of the lesser residents of Western Sydney. The guy then started his car, and James was almost knocked back by the sudden boom from the speakers.
James then watched his girlfriend and her male friend – who did not think of her at all in that way – drive away.
James allowed himself just one, quick pang of anxiety as he watched the two of them pull out of the drive. Then, he walked inside, started his laptop, and contemplated whether or not he should have a shower while he waited for it to boot. He decided against the shower, and instead used the time to make himself a sandwich.
As he did, his mind drifted back to Skye and Nick. He could objectively say that he was better looking than the guy, so he wasn’t worried about that, but Nick seemed more suited to Skye’s personality. He was sociable, outgoing, and liked to scream a lot with his shirt off. He was a normal twenty-four-year-old guy, as opposed to James, who, by all accounts, wasn’t.
Pushing these thoughts to the back of his mind, James took a bite of his sandwich, opened his word processor, and began to write. It wasn’t until much later in the afternoon that a disturbance came in the form of Kiera, who arrived home from work.
As soon as Kiera stomped into the kitchen and saw James hunched over his laptop, she spoke. “Have you been through those new fucking traffic lights in Riverstone recently? I was waiting in line for thirty minutes this arvo, inching my way toward them.”
“I like them,” James replied, not looking up from the screen. “They give me an opportunity to do my taxes.”
“It’s ridiculous,” Kiera continued, putting her stuff down. “Why did they even need lights there? It was perfectly okay as it was.”
“I think the council saw that people could easily come and go,” James theorized, “and decided to damn well do something about it.”
Kiera chuckled, just before she raised a milk carton to her lips, and began to chug the contents. After placing it back into the refrigerator, the woman promptly stripped to her underwear, sat down in the chair opposite James with her legs open, and leaned back, exhausted. It was a common sight on a hot day.
James glanced at his room-mate and cleared his throat. “That was a great party last night.”
“That seems to be the consensus,” Kiera said, eyes still firmly shut.
James glanced at her again, then spoke into his computer screen. “Your friend Kirsty seems nice.”
“Yeah. I got the impression that she really liked you, too.” Kiera’s voice, James noticed, contained a trace of amusement.
“What makes you say that?” James enquired.
Kiera placed her hands behind her head and exhaled. “You know she’s a guy, right?”
James sensed a joke. “Yes, Kiera. And I am the King of France. Please vacate my throne.”
“Believe what you will,” Kiera said.
Beats passed, after which James stood. “You’re kidding right?”
“No,” Kiera replied.
Kiera looked at James.
James looked at Kiera.
“She’s a guy,” Kiera explained slowly. “She has a penis. She’s a man. What do want me to tell you?”
James studied Kiera’s face. He expected her to burst out laughing at any second, tell him that he’s a moron, and then leave, but she did not.
James started pacing about the thin strip of kitchen. He leaned on the windowsill after a few moments and looked out toward the driveway and the garden in its center. His mouth was agape. He shook his head.
“She had breasts…”
Kiera smiled. “It’s amazing what a roll of tape and ten minutes can do.”
“What about her voice?” James went on, incredulous.
The corner of Kiera’s upper lip curled upward. “Some of my other trans friends sound even better than she does.”
James pushed off the sill. “And her face?”
Kiera thought for a moment on that one. “You’d have to ask her.”
James moved back toward his chair and slumped into it, defeated. “If she’s a guy, then why are we using female pronouns?”
“It’s just easier,” Kiera said as if all of this was perfectly normal; like they were discussing the blueness of the sky.
James pondered her answer for a time. “Alright. So, what? She’s a man who wants to be a woman?”
“I’m not sure actually,” Kiera said, cocking her head to the side. “She isn’t transgendered as far as I know, but she spends way, way more time as a woman than as a man. I can’t even remember the last time I saw her as a man, come to think of it. She’s at the club most Saturdays if you feel like taking a drive. You could ask her about all this yourself.”
“No, I’m good,” James mumbled, closing the lid of his computer and staring at the wall behind it. The conflicts raging inside his mind were overwhelming, and more than a little surprising. He contemplated going for another walk. He eventually did, but, before he left, he asked Kiera one last question. “Does Skye know about this?”
Kiera put her feet up on James’ now empty chair and assumed something that resembled a sleeping position. “Sure does.”
So Kirsty was a man, James thought.
James was much more well-versed in matters of sexual strangeness (and general strangeness) than your average young, adult male. But, he couldn’t help feel a little put off by Kirsty now.
He thought back to the sight of her flowing, emerald hair. He realized it was most likely a wig now. Fake. Artificial.
James wasn’t disgusted by Kirsty by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, he was more disappointed. He was attracted to her – he could admit that much to himself – but this new information changed that, and he was, in all honesty, sorry that that was the case.
Skye’s face flashed through James’ mind, but his thoughts continued.
James was attracted to a man. James was very attracted to a man.
He contemplated this fact for a moment. He’d heard of men doing similar and promptly throwing up, after thoroughly questioning their sexuality. James was too tired for such theatrics. He knew he wasn’t gay (he’d been through this a couple of times before) and while, yes, he was attracted to Kirsty, she was in no way a man from his perspective at the time.
James wasn’t lying when he said that hoped he would see Kirsty again, and, in spite of Kiera’s revelation, this was still true. But things were different now. If he did meet Kirsty again, James told himself, he would make an effort to become friends. He had enjoyed hanging out with her the previous night, more than he had enjoyed hanging out with anyone in a long time. Kirsty was fun, nice to talk to, and liked Pokémon. She had much potential.
"Love this story! Pulls at the heart strings!"
"Sometimes something comes along to fly in the face of stereotype, presumptions, and hatred. Holly Sharp's romance novel "Staying Her" does that nicely in my opinion. In a society where the general public associates transgender women with prostitution or escorting services, Holly Sharp puts pen to paper and creates a sweet, genuine, and pure story of love blossoming between two people, one of just happens to be a trans woman. Holly paints a wonderful picture with the scenarios where characters John and Kirsty fall in love even through the challenges that presented themselves to them. This is a very sweet story, conveyed in a very sweet way. Nothing pornographic or distasteful in any way whatsoever. In it, Kirsty is just a girl who wants to be devoted to and give love to a man who gives love back in return. This book brought warmth and smiles. It's a story that you would want to read by the fireplace on a cold night.
So Holly Sharp if you're reading this I want you to know that you scored big here. I can definitely see this as a movie. You can count me as a fan. I will be purchasing more of your work and telling others about your writings."
- Peaceful One
SO CUTE OMG WAY TOO CUTE AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!"
"This is an awesome story. It is gentle."
- Reader review
"Love the story and the gray-a main character, and particularly that it's based in Australia - even if I don't know much about Sydney (I'm from SA), it's nice to read something slightly familiar."
- Reader review
"I read this story as a novel on my kindle, and loved it. To anyone daunted by the length, let me reassure you. It's a sensitive, well-written and heartwarming romance with plenty of darkness as well as light, well-developed characters and an easy Australian sense of humour. Please read and enjoy. You won't be disappointed. I've recently got the sequel on my kindle and look forward to reading that too. Good luck with your writing, Holly."
- Robert Louis
"Will leave you wanting more. If you're looking for a shorter, soft porn transgender story, then Staying Her is NOT for you. This is a realistic look at Kirsty, a transgender woman, and John, a man trapped in a loveless relationship, and how they overcome their fears and find each other. The characters are well-developed and complicated and excellently described by Ms. Sharp. I couldn't put it down and immediately read Reckoning, the second book in the series; and now I'm eagerly looking forward to Staying Him (tentative title), the third book in the series. What sets this novel apart is the author's vivid portrayal of the feelings, emotions, prejudices, desires and fears of the two main characters: Kirsty and James. This is not one of the many transgender books here on Amazon that involve unrealistic characters and magical transformations. This is a very well-written and engrossing novel that grabs your attention and keeps it.
- Cato (review from Amazon.com)
"Loved it! I really liked this story. I thought it was a very sweet romance. I particularly liked that it showed two imperfect, and flawed people finding each other and building a happy stable relationship. I'm excited to read more stories from this author."
- GLS (review from Amazon.com)
"What makes a person feminine? Is it Gender or something else? Kirsty and James find their answer and each other in this wonderful insightful story. Acceptance and understanding are key to two, not quite lost souls, who find each other and a way out of their shells to be accepted by friends and community. I for one am looking forward to Book 2 (Playing Him) by Holly. Perhaps then the whole story of their daughter Natalie as well as the meaning of Parents and Family will be on display."
- Charlie O (review from Amazon.com)
"Five stars. As a trans person this was great :D"
- Coke (review from Amazon.com)
"This is quite a strong (or even brave) look at a romance with a difference. It challenges the social norms that I am aware of -- even in the world of transgender people. This is Australia (Sydney, NSW area) and probably those social norms are a bit different from my western time in western Europe. I think that perhaps as you read this, you might find those social norms becoming even more silly and that these two lovers are the real deal. I must have liked it because I already have bought the follow-up."
- Polly-O (review from Amazon.co.uk)
"A very good read. Not many transgender love stories around, this is one of the better ones, I have bought the next for a holiday read. Looking forward to the continued love and life of James and Kirsty."
- Jolene Summers (review from Amazon.co.uk)
"Well written, wonderful read and very romantic. I found it hard to put down. It was need to read a proper romance book, rather than one full of sex."
- Lord Avon (review from Amazon.co.uk)
"Great read. Great gripping g and very clear folk could learn a lot from this story yep a good story well written."
- Penny Evans (review from Amazon.co.uk)
- Sue-Ellen Davis (review from Amazon.co.uk)
"I really enjoyed this story. John is obviously a good man which was why it took so long to happen with Kirsty."
- Anne Mouse (Goodreads review)
"To my mind, this book's principal virtue is that it translates the unfamiliar into the familiar. The heroine's humanity is revealed well before any of the stereotypical struggles that seem to define many transgender characters in memoir or fiction. She is presented in social situations with anxieties that most cis-women feel and can identify with, and her transgender status only creates significant conflict later in the book and series. In that sense, it reminded me of Janet Mock's remarkably deft handling of her history of sex work; she too placed it later in the memoir so that readers from a wider variety of backgrounds could begin to relate to her as a person first, which I think rightly or wrongly--and personally I think that those readers for whom it made the biggest difference are in the wrong--makes it more accessible to a broader range of people. I did appreciate the delicacy with which the romance and sex scenes were handled. The approach taken is one I would prefer to see in most romance novels, gay or straight or bi, cis or trans. But perhaps I'm just generally a prude. The prose, description, and dialogue markedly improved in the second half. All of my quotes are from the second half, but each also marks the persistent theme of viewing the heroine as human or female first, and her transgendered identity an important piece of what makes her human. At about 60,000 words this is short for a novel, but I read it back-to-back with the second novella or longish short story. When considering the combined two works, these are the sorts of books I enjoyed discovering when browsing a major university of library deep in the stacks among those books that have gone out of print; they are the reason I always open the cheaper books on Amazon with hope. I only hope that someone in the broader publishing world sees all of the potential I do here. With professional editing, this book could have a significant impact on a wide range of people. And it's a fun read too!"
- Sophie Alexander (Goodreads review)