Filth by M. King

Title :  Filth                       Word Count :77,030

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Does gender really matter?

Kel and Toni are damaged people trying to find answers. While Kel pins his hopes on support groups to keep him on the straight and narrow, Toni looks for absolution in a bottle of Mexican hormone pills.

Kel loves Toni obsessively, and though he supports them on the money he makes turning tricks with strangers and regular clients, he struggles with the reality of Toni’s transition and her motives for doing it.

While Kel grapples with his worries and the attentions of regular client Michael—otherwise known as the Sherbet Pervert—Toni faces different problems. Danielle, a transgender woman, best friend and role model to Toni, thinks Kel is a bad influence and pushes Toni to leave him. But Toni holds off because deep down, she knows she’s not like Danielle.

Kel and Toni’s desperate attempts to build a life together make them realize their survival is precarious. And then two unrelated events show them how easily their harsh little world can crumble, bringing them to confront some difficult truths.

My Review :  From the first moment we are introduced to  Kel and Toni , it’s obvious that they are involved in a very toxic relationship that is barely hanging by a thread. Toni has a lot of internal demons that she is battling and Kel really doesn’t understand. It is hard for Kel since he met and fell in love with Toni when he was just a guy. Toni is in the process of transitioning to become a trans woman. Toni is using a lot of online knockoff  hormone treatments that elevates her fragile emotional state. Kel is worried and misses the boy he once knew. A bone of contention between the two lovers is that Kel is unequivocally gay and there  is no place in their relationship for a girl. Toni knows this, and this definitely contributes to her being a weepy mess when she thinks about losing Kel.

It soon becomes clear that things were not always so turbulent and volatile in their relationship. There are glimpses of a connection so deep  between the two that their love should have been invincible. The cracks does not stem from the foundation of their relationship,  but rather from their self identities and how their true selves have evolved.  Kel identifies as totally gay and he doesn’t believe that Toni identifying as Trans is truly  authentic.  He believes that Toni is confused and he believes that there is some form of gender dysphoria within Toni, but he doesn’t believe that Toni’s identity is Trans. Kel is honest enough to acknowledge that he is not sure if he could be attracted to a more feminine body. Regardless of how Kel feels,  I really respect him and applaud his efforts in helping Toni realize and achieve her dreams by prostituting himself in order to get her the money for the expensive procedures. This is a selfless act of love if I ever saw one. 

There are a lot of outside influences that contribute to the breakdown of their relationship. Like many relationships, we allow our friends to insert their opinions on our lifestyles.  Toni’s friend  Danielle is very supportive,  and very opinionated especially when it comes to Kel and all the things he is doing wrong. Danielle is not keen on the idea of Kel and how he supports Toni on her journey into transitioning.  Kel has hidden depths and when Toni finds out that Kel has been buying all sorts of books on transitioning from the bookstore she works at, she realizes it’s not that Kel doesn’t care, he is just processing in his own way.

A near brush with death helps to put things in perspective for these two lovers who desperately need each other. Toni had to  reevaluate her thoughts and feelings and came to the understanding that maybe Kel is right and that she needs to slow down and get some counseling  on her Trans identity.  Toni recognises that she has been rushing her hormone treatments and thinking about sexual reassignment surgery , when that is possibly not what will make her happy. She knows that once these procedures get to a certain point they are irrevocable and could potentially push her into a very unhappy place if it’s not what she truly wants. Kel acknowledges that he  loves his honey and will do anything to keep her safe and happy and that  means accepting her Trans identity wholeheartedly, irrespective of his reservations .  I loved this pair because they were very real with very real problems. Despite all their issues there was no doubt about their sexual chemistry. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear. 

Favorite Quotes : 1. It is true. Words are just words, but the meanings they carry, the way the world bends around them, that’s what’s complicated. It doesn’t mean a woman can’t have a dick, though. Sex and gender aren’t the same thing, and there’s no black-and-white binary line, no rule that says he has to pick a side because the other one doesn’t want him. It’s a long, complicated road, but it’s easier to walk down without all the labels. ( This is so true, I think at times we get so caught up in putting labels on everything , rather than just Being.)