TRIAL BY FIRE
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: SCIENCE-FICTION, SUPERHEROES, LESBIAN CHILEAN MC, LESBIAN TRANS LI
All Elena wants to do is join the Hollywood Heroes, meet her compatriots, and slowly get into the swing of saving the world. What she gets instead is Consequence, who took out a full-page ad in the LA Times threatening to bring about an apocalypse.
Between villainous masterminds, her fellow heroes, and her attraction to group leader Lacy, Elena is going to have to learn fast how to be a Hollywood Hero or the only thing she’ll have to worry about is how to survive a post-apocalyptic world.
Trial by Fire is a superhero romance. Except it’s really more of a romance (possibly edging on erotica, there are a couple of graphic sex scenes but I’m not sure where that line is) with a superhero subplot. That’s not a bad thing, but it wasn’t what I was expecting from the blurb.
The Romance – The romance between Elena and Lacy (who isn’t the group leader, despite the blurb) is really the focus of this story. The have a cute relationship which builds up gradually as Lacy helps Elena design her new costume. The ‘at home’ scenes and bantering between the two were my favourite parts of the story. Personally, I felt the sex scenes were a little awkward and took up too much screen-time compared to the plot, but the author has clearly done her best to represent safe sex and confirming consent, which I liked.
Representation – The Hollywood Heroes are a lesbian superhero team (epic!) but to be honest, the only characters we see for more than a line or two are Elena and Lacy. Elena is second-gen Chilean and Lacy is trans with Filipino heritage. The rest of the team seems to represent a variety of backgrounds and includes a non-binary character but I’d have liked to know more about them all.
The Superheroes – This side was a little shakier in purely logistical terms. Elena joins the Hollywood Heroes as a new superpowered recruit. There’s an interview and it all seems very prestigious and professional. Except once she’s on the team, there’s no training, no support and virtually no interaction with the team. Elena does all the investigative work on her own, the other’s are mentioned but not shown to do any surveillance, and Elena and Lacy handle both of the villain fight scenes by themselves. I was almost expecting some kind of twist to come from it, that a mole in the Hollywood Heroes was working with the villain, perhaps?
tl;dr: Trial by Fire has a lot of potential but the main plot is a little sketchy and the plot/subplot balance feels off.