I never saw myself as a girl who would get all misty over a sports romance...but then, I hadn't read Vanessa North's Roller Girl, third in the series of Lake Lovelace romances. Tina, newly out and finding a new life for herself after retiring from wakeboarding and divorcing her high school sweetheart, meets-cute with Joe when a sock clogs her dryer. Joe ingratiates herself to Tina's pooch Elvis and the reader almost immediately, a good-ol-girl with a proposition: Tina and her awesome athletic skills should join the local roller derby team. She finds new friends, a new passion, and even new love--but the love has to be secret, since Joe's coaching the team.
I loved that this was a romance where the heroine had a very full life--compassion for her day job clients, a circle of close friends from her Before Times who support her through it all, self-love through the process of coming out and becoming herself in the world. Tina is a very lovable narrator--quick, smart, and very human. The camaraderie within the derby team is unmatched, and the action is fast and furious enough to keep my non-sportswoman's heart interested. I caught a couple of details that were a bit too important to miss (if your girlfriend has had bottom surgery, please use lube. use lube in general. it's a good thing.), but I felt that Tina's transition and life in the After Times was handled sensitively, and triumphantly. (I cried a little near the end. yes, I did) And most important--no character was beyond redemption, a quality I loved. A Happily Ever After, women kicking butt and inspiring others, and steamy romance that works on its flaws? Recommended so hard.
"And derby? What's the best thing about derby?"
"I think, for me, it's being accepted and included in female friendship, in a space that isn't dominated by men. In a space where our bodies aren't for decoration, and every body type has an advantage...What's wonderful about derby is what makes it so beautifully subversive: it empowers women to love what our bodies can do."
Vanessa North: Website