Review: Roller Girl, by Vanessa North


cover-vanessanorth-rollergirlRecently divorced Tina Durham is trying to be self-sufficient, but her personal-training career is floundering, her closest friends are swept up in new relationships, and her washing machine has just flooded her kitchen. It’s enough to make a girl cry.

Instead, she calls a plumbing service, and Joanne “Joe Mama” Delario comes to the rescue. Joe is sweet, funny, and good at fixing things. She also sees something special in Tina and invites her to try out for the roller derby team she coaches.

Derby offers Tina an outlet for her frustrations, a chance to excel, and the female friendships she’s never had before. And as Tina starts to thrive at derby, the tension between her and Joe cranks up. Despite their player/coach relationship, they give in to their mutual attraction. Sex in secret is hot, but Tina can’t help but want more.

With work still on the rocks and her relationship in the closet, Tina is forced to reevaluate her life. Can she be content with a secret lover? Or with being dependent on someone else again? It’s time for Tina to tackle her fears, both on and off the track.


Dates read:
Edition read:
July 23, 2016
Riptide Publishing
Contemporary, F/F, Trans, LGBT+
approx. 150 e-book pages
1st person
Lake Lovelace, book 3
July 24-25, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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After finishing book two in this series, Rough Road, I knew I wanted Tina’s story. In fact, I stated that in my review way back when. I really, really wanted it.

Why, you ask?


I um… I cried through most of this. Pretty much the whole way through. Not all of it was blubbering, sobbing messiness. Most of the time it was a tingle along the bridge of my nose or in my throat while moisture pooled delicately in the corners of my eyes. A few times those tears built up enough volume to fall, and I had to wipe my cheeks. These weren’t sad tears…not all of them anyway. Mostly they were hopeful tears and the kind I get when I’m looking at things so beautiful that words escape me.

Yeah, so I’m a sap. I might talk a tough game, but my heart can often be found on my sleeve.

Right…book talk.


I loved the writing, I loved the characters, I loved the derby. I loved seeing Eddie and Wish and Ben and Davis from the first two books.

Tina was everything I hoped for and more. She’s at a place where she’s finally, mostly comfortable in her skin. For years, her best friends have been gay men. As amazing as they are, she’s been missing one little piece — a place in the sisterhood. Other women who accept her, love her, respect her for all that she is. And she finds that, ultimately, on a women’s roller derby team. A place where every body is welcome. She’s not looking to be a crusader, some big trailblazing voice for Trans acceptance…she just wants to be.

And yes, I’m fucking crying as I write this review. Dammit.

They’re bittersweet tears of joy. Ya know? Because why shouldn’t Tina have those things? But for all that she wants, who she already is…is amazing…even if she doesn’t see it so easily. She’s motivating, inspiring, and oh my god the kindest heart.

And Joe. I LOVED HER TOO. She’s a little badass spitfire. Also, I LOVE seeing women who work in typically “male” dominated industries. Joe is a plumber! And that was seriously hot.

Typically, I have issues with stories that keep relationships a secret. Sure, sneaking around can be hot and adds elements of excitement. But lies beget lies beget lies. And being a secret isn’t so much fun. I got the secrecy in the beginning since the relationship was so new and tentative. I wasn’t so sure about it lasting as long as it did even though it was the central conflict. But kudos for all aspects not being fully resolved — because the world doesn’t work like that.

The chemistry between Tina and Joe was smokin’ hot with lots-n-lots of dirty talk. And even if the relationship took off like a rocket, might’ve been a little on the insta-love side, I couldn’t fault the connection. It was the kind of thing ya just don’t fight.

Roller Derby. I don’t know a whole lot about it. What was that movie a while back with Ellen Page? Whip It? Yeah…I saw parts of that. And it looked like a bunch of treachery filled mayhem. Since reading this book, I’ve gone on a little bit of a YouTube journey. It still looks dangerous. Kind of insane, actually. But…you go girls. Thumbs up and stuff. Also, it totally fit Tina, and I got a kick out of all the other derby girls. Lots of fun.

There were moments — so many moments throughout this story that brought on the tears. I’m still working on rehydrating. But tiny moments, some sad, some hopeful, some angry on Tina’s behalf. And…I can’t really talk about them without giving too much away other than to say that even during a few moments of ugliness, there was beauty in the pain. Beauty in all of it, really.

I love Vanessa’s writing. So, so much. It’s thoughtful, evocative passionate and overflowing with hope.

Recommended. And I guess it could be read as a standalone…but go ahead and grab the other two if you haven’t already. I can’t think why you shouldn’t.

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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