Their Troublesome Crush is a romance novella by Xan West.
Book 1 in the Kink & Showtunes series
Finalist for the 2020 National Leather Association Pauline Reage Novel Award!
cover design and illustration by Hannah Aroni
In this queer polyamorous m/f romance novella, two metamours realize they have crushes on each other while planning their shared partner’s birthday party together.
Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disabled queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, all while planning their dominant’s birthday party and trying to do a really good job.
This low conflict foodie romance novella by Xan West includes a queer trans man/cis woman romance, forced proximity and friends to lovers tropes, and polyamorous, demiromantic, bisexual, pansexual, trans, Jewish, fat, autistic, disabled, diabetic, PTSD and depression representation.
Related Blog Posts
- Read an excerpt here.
- Interview with the cover artist
- I discuss writing the ownvoices demiromantic representation in the book over at Queer Books Unbound
- I discuss creating respite for trans characters in my books, and particularly doing that in this book on Book Corner Reviews
Playlist of all the musical references:
Praise for Their Troublesome Crush
“THEIR TROUBLESOME CRUSH has a demiromantic MC dealing with the realisation that he has a new romantic crush, and the upheaval and possibilities this open, and I absolutely adored Ernest’s evolution through this storyline, how much discussion happens around different attractions, how he has other arospecs to talk with. It’s incredibly validating and thoughtful rep, and there’s a bit where he writes a love song from an aromantic perspective that was just -amazing-. All in all, I highly recommend this.” —Claudie Arseneault
“Ernest is an absolute dear, with an interior voice that goes in spirals just as charmingly tight as his red curls.” Olivia Waite, The Seattle Review of Books
“A lovely, intimate portrait of kink, autism, and romance.For so long I have longed for representation like this in media, and this book such a delightful read. Plenty of queer and trans characters that just are. It’s so freaking adorable how they connect and process and make space for each other.” —Michón Neal
Everything about it is such a joy–from the characters to the lovely descriptions to the representation and more! —Leah
“Every character in this story was someone I would happily have lunch with, which I can’t say for every romance novel I read! Warm and open-hearted, this gentle tale of metamours becoming friends and then romantically involved is definitely a feel-good read.” –Rhiannon Grant
“I loved this book. I loved the representation and I love how seen it made me feel and I loved the queerness and I loved how soft and tender it was. My heart feels so good after reading this book.” –Ash
“This is an absolutely adorable book—which is not something I ever thought I’d say about a book featuring Daddy/Good Boy, D/s, and rope kinks. But Ernest, the protagonist of this novel, is a man I want to hug to death (but he’s touch averse, so only if he let me)…Did I mention the protagonist of this book also loves show tunes, and is writing a(n even) queer(er) musical version of Yentl? Yeah. You want to read this.” –Jess at Book Riot Kissing Books
“Such a thoughtful, sweet romance. The pacing was perfect, and that’s pretty difficult in a novella, especially when you’re trying to introduce a whole world of characters, relationships, and portray a believable, engaging romance. Which the author absolutely aced, btw, hence the five stars. I just love these characters so much, I’ve already re-read the book and it was no less engaging this time around.” –TheArmChairCritic
“Boy how I wished this was longer and that I could spend more time in the world of these characters. I wish I hadn’t finished it so quickly, but it was really, really hard to put down because every scene was a delight. I also wish I could give a book over 5 stars. Maybe even 7 or 8. Their Troublesome Crush was just that singular in the way fat characters were described, how deeply the POV character’s autism informed the narrative, and how attraction was described and approached.” –Ana
“Xan writes the best comfort-fic. This book has delightful queer, Jewish, autistic, Demi romantic, and kink rep. The story is sweet and wonderful like the best hug from a friend, right when you need it.” –Psygeek
“West is able to write romances and eroticas that feel like home in this way that I will forever compare every other romance and erotica to. West is officially my standard….One of my favorite parts was a trans person who doesn’t pass was the main romantic lead. I AM SO EXCITED! Ernest was one of my favorite side characters in [Eight Kinky Nights], so seeing him have a full life and happiness was something I needed. Seeing representation for trans guys that can’t bind and who don’t pass is even more magical.” —Isaiah at MI Book Reviews
“The overall sense I had reading this novel was that of falling into a diverse and eccentric family of queers that I never wanted to leave. West has a knack for writing about consent, negotiation, and relationships in a way that’s full of kindness and warmth, without negating the real challenges their queer, disabled, autistic, fat, and kinky protagonists face.” —Laura Sackton at BookRiot
” I specifically really loved the autism rep. It made me feel very safe and very seen.” —Anniek
Lists that include Their Troublesome Crush
- 5 M/F Romances That Are Queer As Hell by Laura Sackton at BookRiot
- We’re Obsessed with these Jewish Romance Novels by Stacey Agdern at HeyAlma.com
- Fat Rep In Romance by the Seattle Public Library
- Aro and Ace Representation in Romance, an interview with Amanda Jean on Smart Podcast Trashy Books
- Pan Day of Visibility at LGBTQReads
- Five Books to Understand Me by Jess Mahler
- 50 Must Read Queer Romance Novellas by Laura Sackton at BookRiot
- Fave Five: Queer Autistic Rep at LGBTQReads
- Detailed description of gender dysphoria.
- References to being misgendered by family.
- Reference to familial estrangement.
- References to fat oppression, trans oppression and ableism.
- References to being a survivor and managing PTSD.
- References to depression.
- Brief reference to familial pressure to mask autism.
- Use of the term “queer” as a reclaimed slur.
- Reference to the lesbian sex wars.
- Many references to BDSM, including Daddy/boy dynamic, D/s, service, bondage, and pain play.
- Depiction of service provided in the context of a D/s relationship.
- Depiction of a BDSM scene that includes bondage, D/s, and service (Chapter 10 only).