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Hearts On Fire Reviews

We read and review for the love and joy of books.

Mickie B. Ashling – Chyna Doll (Horizons #4)

Chyna Doll (Horizons Series Book 4) - Mickie B. Ashling

Reviewer: Lucy

Genre: MM New Adult

 

Review: This is my first Horizons story and I was a little worried I’d be lost, due to it being the fourth in the series. Rest assured, it’s definitely stand-alone.

 

Luca is a very sweet young man who has pretty much decided he’s gay. Mainly this is due to the crush he has on his best friend, Chip. His much loved dads are away on a vacation (this is an interesting side story) and he’s now very conflicted by his feelings for Chips twin, Chyna. How can he be gay, as he thought, if he longs and lusts for Chyna?

Chyna and Chip, honestly, they are the best together. This is what family, any family and not just twins, should be like. Stand together, defend each other and be the other’s support. Loved that about them. Mom? Well, she’s another story. I can’t decide if I can feel a little sorry for her or if I am just 100% furious with her. Leaning toward furious, mostly due to the fact that her biggest reason for choosing to raise Chyna as female was that fact that she couldn’t conceive again and she wanted the “perfect” boy/girl family. Add in the vaccinations, the lies, and Mom is really close to unbalanced.

 

I had to google Persistent Müllerian Duct Syndrome (PMDS) because I had never heard of it. This the syndrome Chyna was born with and for the life of me I can’t figure out why Mom would want Chyna raised as a girl. He has male anatomy. Some additional parts to be sure, but basically male. So to be raised as a girl and now hitting puberty, what did Mom think was going to happen? It is nearly impossible to imagine what Chyna went through – externally male, expectations to be female and harassment on top of that.

Chyna is trying to navigate through puberty and high school and some people are making this more difficult than ever. Because of puberty, body changes are causing the usual havoc but Chyna can’t deal with them as a teenager normally would – he’s been hiding this secret of PMDS. Chyna was lucky in that Chip is always there to support, defend, protect.

 

I found it very interesting and unfortunately truer to life than I would hope that at a point when Chyna and her supporters confront the principal, Mr. Cooper, about the bullying and assault Chyna has endured and he treats it as a “prank” and then an “incident”. He really doesn’t take it seriously. To make it worse, when Chip tells him that he was “…lucky you didn’t have a suicide to contend with on top of everything else.”, Cooper tells Chip he is overreacting. In this day of social media, what does it take for those charged with the care and safety of our children to realize how the Internet has upped the ante in terms of bullying? It is so much easier to bully someone to death when you need not face them at all – just spew your venom online.

 

Luka may be confused as he navigates his own sexuality questions but he is a young man who knows what is right and how to act. Kudos to his dads for raising him right and himself for a true moral compass. Joined with Chip and then Luka’s uncles, they give Chyna the support so desperately needed.

 

Woven into the story line is the plight of Lil and Grier. Lil is turning 45 and he’s not handling it very well. Big problem? No, of course not. But to Lil, it’s very real. He’s an older man with a younger partner and the idea that he’s “too old” to keep Grier’s interest is beating him down. I was very happy for him that Grier took his anxieties seriously. A vacation to Italy (and a ride on a Ducati!) to show his love and support for Lil ended up being just what Lil needed. “You and Grier can be the poster boys for going the extra mile to make things work.” That in a nutshell is what a relationship should be. Go the extra mile, make it work.

 

The scene in the dressing room with Grier and the Italian clerk showed Grier’s devotion to his man and I loved it.

 

The book weaves a balance between the very serious (Chyna) and the more light-hearted and sexy (Lil and Grier). This made the book less heavy and gives you something to think about. It’s an eye-opener that is definitely recommended.