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Review: The Woman Who Wasn't

The Woman Who Wasn't audiobook cover. A handsome man in a fitted black tshirt stands behind a scantily clad, attractive, blonde woman with her arms across her chest. The Woman Who Wasn't by Pornelope.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐
Duration: 1 hr 35 mins.
🔥Steamy content!🔥

The Woman Who Wasn't is a fun, sexy, 'genderswap' short story about a handsome man who - following a fatal shooting - finds himself in the body of a beautiful woman.

This story's strength lies in the fact that it doesn't take itself seriously. It's very silly and pokes fun at the plentiful anatomical differences between cis-men and cis-women, but the clumsy stereotypes it invokes for comedic effect may annoy some. I found the womanly experiences Charlie encounters as he adjusts to his new body amusing; his views on periods, shaving, and the inconvenience of breasts all provided familiar laughs.

It does raise a few questions about whether sexuality is a biological or psychological preference (as the previously-straight guy becomes interested in other men once in a woman's body) but this audiobook doesn't set out to be a rigorous social commentary and never really addresses it in any depth beyond the protagonist's amorous confusion. There was some wry humour in the single-minded way Charlie's best friend pursued him despite his protests. That experience may have been more authentically female than learning to pee sitting down!

The inevitability of the friends' connection was predictable, but not unbelievable. I was torn between feeling like it was a missed opportunity to write a good queer romance, and understanding that in many ways that's exactly what it sets out to be. In essence, Charlie remains innately 'Charlie', though Daniel perceives him more as Charlotte so it's an odd kind of 'bromance', with a blend of both homoerotic and heterosexual themes.

Ultimately it lives up to its promise as a steamy exploration of friendship and boundaries, and it probably says a lot about my own cynicism that I found the tender/romantic moments tested my suspension of disbelief much more than the body-swap!

The narrator, Persephone Rose, has a smooth voice and an engaging 'story-teller' style of reading. Rather ironically, given the premise of this audiobook, I was expecting a female narrator when I first saw that it was narrated by a performer named Persephone. I was unfamiliar with the narrator's other work, and though I try not to make gendered assumptions about authors or narrators, I was definitely caught out this time! I think the decision to opt for a masculine voice for this audiobook was the right one, as the protagonist was a man who awoke in a woman's body, and it is told from his perspective. Rose performed the piece well, and was easy to listen to.

I'll keep an eye out for other collaborations between this author and narrator, as this title was a pleasant surprise. If you're looking for a well narrated erotic short with a variation on the usual m/m and m/f sensual scenarios, then give this one a whirl!

*I received this audiobook free of charge in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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