Author: Cheryl Headford
Genre: LGBT, romance, transgender, intersex, M/M, F/F
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing
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After having known each other online for some time, writers, Benji and Ari meet at a convention.Their attraction is both immediate and mutual.But all is not straightforward—Ari is intersex and Benji transgender.Together they embark on a journey.A journey that unites families, and heals old wounds.But not everyone is happy with the blossoming love between these two unique and special individuals.Will an act of aggression crush the flower before it can bloom?
Review by: multitaskingmomma
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
One of the more intriguing stories I have read in a long while, Ari is about an how the love bloomed between intersex author, Ari, and transgender Benji. They had been online mates and friends for quite some time and Benjie had always been curious what Ari looked like. Now that they meet for the first time in an author convention, Benjie realizes that Ari is not really the person he initially thought.
Because both men are special in their own ways, they are both insecure and thus manage to show the world a different persona. When Benjie sees how other authors rallied around Ari at a time of need, he realizes it does not matter Ari acts or looks the way he does, what matters is his sweetness and loving heart.
Ari as a read was very curious. This touches on a subject that confuse many. The way the other authors became protective mama bears shows just how tight this little community of LGBT romance writers really is. Benjie is seen as someone new so has to prove to one and all that he is a person to trust around Ari.
Although this was at times a heartbreaking read, the moments of levity more than made up for it. The antics only seen and heard in authors' conventions are finally placed on text and it is not hard to imagine just how chaotic those events can be. Chaotic in the best possible ways.
The journey was interminable, especially when we realized we had no idea where the hospital was, or even which hospital it was. A Google search threw up a few choices and I panicked over making one. Dad got frustrated with me and lost his cool, which lit a touch paper and had me screaming back. Our screaming match lasted almost half an hour until we reached the most likely candidate, both exhausted and frazzled, with sore throats from yelling.
I couldn’t wait for Dad to park the car, so he dropped me at the hospital entrance. As I watched him pull off it occurred to me I might have done better to find the emergency department. However, I needn’t have worried. Skye and Nancy had all bases covered as usual.
I turned and almost fell into Nancy’s arms. “Where is he? What happened? Please tell me he’s okay.”
“Not here, sweetheart. We have a room. Let me call Skye and tell her I found you.”
“But.... Please. Tell me what’s happening. Just tell me he's okay.”
“I can’t do that. Wait.”
When Nancy commanded, everyone obeyed, so I had to follow in silence while she talked to Skye on the phone. Nothing in the conversation gave me a clue about what was going on.
When she finished the call Nancy kept on walking and I trotted obediently at her side. I could barely breathe. The atmosphere of the hospital—one grey, echoing corridor after another—was oppressive, and I was sick with worry, but it was pointless to press because I knew Nancy would be like a rock until she was ready to open. At least I knew that when Skye joined us she would be more forthcoming. Skye was like Ari and couldn’t keep emotions inside if her life depended on it. It frustrated Nancy, but would definitely work in my favour right now.
Finally we came to a set of double doors that led into a busy corridor. About halfway along was a door marked “Staff Only”. Nancy ushered me inside.
“Are we supposed to be in here?”
“We are supposed to be wherever we find ourselves.”
“Spiritually, yes, I get it, but—”
“It’s alright, Benji,” Skye said. “We have permission.”
Now why hadn’t Nancy just said that? Couldn’t she see what a state I was in?
“Sit down, sweetheart,” Skye said drawing me into a chair. “My goodness you’re cold as ice. Tell me you didn’t drive all this way alone.”
“No. Dad drove. He’s parking. Oh, he won’t know where I am.”
“Give me your phone,” Nancy said. “I’ll call him and give directions.”
Numbly, I handed over the phone and Nancy walked away toward a window. I dismissed her, knowing I would get what I needed from Skye.
“Hasn’t she told you anything?”
I shook my head, and Skye tutted and rolled her eyes in Nancy’s direction. Then she turned serious and took both my hands in hers, which was no mean feat as her hands were tiny, like Ari’s.
“I think this is where I’m supposed to say ‘be strong’, but you don't have to be. You don’t have to be strong at all because we will look after you, and your Dad’s here.” She took a deep breath and I could practically see her drawing in her strength. “It’s bad, Benji, really bad. We’re going to lose him. We’re going to lose our baby boy.”
Prizes: 3 UK Swag Packs (Ari mug, notebook, rainbow pen) and 3 International Swag Packs (6.99 WIP gift card, bookmark, key chain)
About the Author
CHERYL HEADFORD was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re-enactment group who traveled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and her two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. The part of her that needs to earn money is a lawyer, but the deepest, and most important part of her is a storyteller and artist, and always will be.