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TITLE: Static

PUBLISHER: Amber Allure
YEAR: January 2011
LENGTH: 236 pages
GENRE: Bisexual/Transgender Sci-fi/Paranormal Erotic Romance
HEAT LEVEL: Adults Only, Erotica
RATING: 5 out of 5

REVIEW: From the moment I began this book, I was completely blown away. Alex and Damon captivated me from page one. The story flows smoothly, and is told with a delicacy of touch that testifies to the author’s deep affection for this couple. The disenfranchisement of anyone who does not fit within a narrowly defined model of behavior is hardly a new topic, but this story treats the issue with a fresh perspective, and I enjoyed it immensely. I’m upset that Amazon and Goodreads only allow for five stars in their rating systems. I need more stars! Do yourself a favor and read this book. Why do I love it so much? Read on.

Gender identification is a tangled and murky road, even for those who have no choice but to tread it. But the message here is not limited to the gender issue. One of the things I love best about this story is that it doesn’t pretend that it’s only those who struggle with gender identity who suffer from prejudice. Many of the people I know deal daily with the struggle between being themselves and toeing an arbitrary line laid down by the ubiquitous powers that be – will they lose their children if someone finds out they’re gay? When others at work openly wear a cross or a Star of David, do they dare risk their job by wearing a pentagram? We like to think we live in a society in which certain civil liberties are guaranteed. It may not be illegal to be queer, but legality often plays second fiddle to the reality of certain prejudices. Things like love and faith should be intensely personal issues, but we live in a society in which the prevailing attitude is still, “My way or the highway.” And “my way” is straight and Judeo-Christian. If you’re not just like everyone else, your family, job, housing, and even your life could be forfeit. The injustice heaped upon the hero/ine of this book after s/he is victimized by her own family feels all too familiar to me.

That’s what makes this such an important book, and part of what sets it apart from this writer’s other work – at least, as much of it as I’ve read. Everything I’ve read from L.A. Witt has been entertaining, sexy, clever, and witty (pun inescapable). She has an exceptional grasp of her craft, producing some of the best examples of erotic romance I’ve read, whether alone or with one of her writing partners. She’s prolific and talented. But this book stands out. I’ve read some unfavorable reviews. People have different tastes. Still, this book rises beyond mere entertainment or escapism. It is important. Reading Static has expanded my understanding of gender and its role in our culture. And it’s done so in the same clever way so many social issues were aired in Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone series, and Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek franchise. Call it science fiction, fantasy, alternate reality, and you can get people to listen, catch them when they’re open to feel the true impact of your message. That’s not trickery. That’s good writing. Good writing entertains, educates, enlightens. Excellent writing does it in such a way that you don’t even  realize it’s happening. Static is excellent writing.

But don’t take all this to mean that the book is one long diatribe against discrimination. This is a love story, driven by vibrant characters struggling with real problems. And while many of Ms. Witt’s books feature an abundance of steamy eroticism, Static contains only one truly erotic scene – albeit a fairly long one. I recently read a review of one of her books in which the reviewer complained that she preferred less angst in her porn. I don’t know about Ms. Witt, but I was offended by the comment. The difference between porn and erotica is fairly simple: a recitation of sexual acts that contains little or no plot or character development is porn, while erotica is an otherwise complete story containing explicit sexual acts which drive or enhance the plot. As usual, Ms. Witt writes a beautifully balanced erotic romance starring sympathetic characters and a plot that, while it contains some fantasy elements, is absolutely relevant to modern society.

I felt as if I knew Alex and Damon. Their story touched me on several levels, and I was rooting for them all the way. Thank you, Ms. Witt, for penning this wonderful tale. And thanks, also, to Riptide, who provided a copy for the purpose of an honest review.