Review: Texas Hold ‘Em by Sara James

Review: Texas Hold ‘Em by Sara JamesTexas Hold 'Em by Sara James
on September 23rd 2017
Goodreads
four-half-stars

The popular saying about everything from Texas being bigger is the main reason Ken's favorite football team - and their famous cheerleading squad - is from the Lone Star state. When he has a chance to win big at his weekly poker game, he bets big and loses even bigger. Now he's stuck as a buxom Texan beauty, forced to cope with a body that's a real handful ... and then some! But the real game begins when the night is over and the stakes are raised to include his marriage, his children, and the direction the rest of his life will take.

There has been a welcome trend, lately, among tg fantasy authors to allow the stories to run longer, exploring in greater detail the ins and outs of gender changes beyond the puerile (if still enjoyable) sexually-charged shorts.  Among those who do such work is Stacey Zackerly, and I would describe the work of Sara James as being a welcome combination of Zackerly’s propensity for longer length and M.C. Questgend’s romantic flair.

In “Texas Hold ‘Em,” a title which suggests more lewdness than the story possesses, Ken joins his pals at a regular poker game.  Vern, an acerbic member of the group, goads Ken into accepting a bet that will change his life forever – to wit, Ken must wear the cheerleader uniform he has been obsessing over in his friend Stu’s collection.  To keep the bet in order, Ken writes up a contract stating he will be a humble servant for the group for the remainder of the night should he lose, which seems unlikely given the strength of his hand.  When the unexpected happens and Ken finds himself on the losing side of this bet, he is transformed into Kendra, the bubbly blonde cheerleader of his dreams.

Where most stories would then hop from one sexual interlude to another, James is concerned with deeper themes, and the story is all the better for it.  There is certainly the magical contract to keep Kendra subservient to some degree, but most of the men, Ken-now-Kendra’s friends, agree on sets of rules t limit Kendra’s embarrassment, even as she cheers the boys at the table on with her buxom new body.

Most stories, too, would content themselves with describing this scene and calling it a day, but here again James subverts expectations of this type of story and instead explores the very notion of femininity, from it obvious aesthetic appeals to a deeper sense of self that Kendra must come to terms with.  In a twist I won’t spoil here, Kendra’s life becomes something more normalized, allowing James the opportunity to discuss the perception of a beautiful woman among men, and what it means to determine one’s own fate, as well as the formidable bonds of a good marriage.  It is a surprisingly mature and satisfying read in a field which is too often marked by simple sexual release in literary form, and I am pleased to see more authors approach the subject matter with a  dignity that is all too absent from much of this genre’s work.

I hope Sara James explores this subject matter more, and I look forward to the next outing.  “Texas Hold ‘Em” is a sensitive, fun and literary take on the boy-turned-cheerleader tale in a way which makes newcomers to this type of story saddled with a very high bar to overcome.  My few complaints are limited to some meandering at the conclusion which left me feeling a bit antsy to reach a conclusion, and a later twist that is interesting, but ultimately unnecessary to the strong themes at work.  These quibbles aside, if you like some genuine care and insight in your erotic fiction, this is not to be missed!

four-half-stars

2 Responses to “Review: Texas Hold ‘Em by Sara James

  • Well said, hon – I had the same thoughts. It’s nice to see a longer work of TG fiction that explores the deeper consequences, rather than jumping right to the sex.

    • There has been some really good work done lately. I’m really excited to see where this trend heads next!

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