Reviews for October 2005

     Title: The War Between the Hearts
Author: Nann Dunne
ISBN: 1-933113-27-8
Publisher: Intaglio Publications,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $16.95
Genre: Fiction/Lesbian/Historical Romance

Rave reviews about Nann Dunne’s The War Between the Hearts understandably tout the epic as the author’s best work to date.

A courageous Sarah-Bren Coulter decides that sitting idly by while her country is embroiled in a war between the North and the South is not an option. Sarah wants to join the fight and realizes that the only way to accomplish her goal is to pretend she’s a man. She disguises herself as Bren Cordell and, against her family’s wishes, goes off to war. Strong-willed and stubborn, Sarah-Bren has never been one to follow anyone’s whims except her own.

Sarah-Bren’s family lives in what eventually becomes West Virginia, a new state affiliated with the North, and she immerses herself in the task of spying for the North dressed as a man while working as a scout and soldier for the Confederate army.

Faith Pruitt is a widow who teaches school and has a young son named Benjamin. When Sarah (disguised as Bren, a Confederate Soldier) is shot, Faith saves her leg and nurses her back to health. Faith’s late husband fought for the Confederacy, but she is an independent thinker and tends to believe a united Union makes more sense than a divided country. She has no way of knowing that Bren is actually spying for the Union, a fact that is pivotal to what happens in the story. The clash between Sarah and Faith is often as wrenching as the war itself. Two strong-willed women, who clearly have intense feelings for each other, fight it out until the end. Will they surrender to their hearts’ desires or will misunderstandings win out?

Dunne has obviously done her homework. The period of the Civil War is accurately depicted with an easy to read, enjoyable, contemporary flare; it effortlessly transports readers back to the 1860s. Even the methods for wound care that were available at the time are accurate.

Dunne also displays a strong hand at characterization. Sarah-Bren Coulter has been added to my list of admirable characters. She is someone I can look up to, a brave woman who puts the safety of others before her own; a true heroine who is willing to fight for a cause despite the cost. Faith Pruitt, forthright, nurturing, and independent, captivates the reader as much as she captivates—and frustrates—Sarah-Bren.

In addition, The War Between the Hearts presents a diverse and well-defined supporting cast, each with an integral contribution to the story.

Lindsay, Sarah-Bren’s sister-in-law, is the type of “sister,” friend, and confidante we all wish we had. She is supportive, smart, and always there for Sarah no matter what. Scott, Sarah’s twin and Lindsay’s husband, loves his sister very much. Always the stronger twin, Sarah goes off to war while her brother stays home to run the Coulter Foundry. Will Scott get past his jealousy of Sarah’s capabilities and his disbelief when he discovers the truth about his sister’s secret desires?

Sarah’s suitor, Captain Phillip Showell of the Union Army, would marry her at any given time. Sarah loves him too—just not in that way. His brother, Colonel Theodore (Theo) Showell also fights for the Union. When Sarah tells Scott, and her friends Phillip and Theo, of her plans to fight in the army, they automatically think she has gone mad, but also realize that they would be wasting their breath to try to stop her.

Bren meets and befriends Leah, a prostitute who becomes Sarah’s ally and eventually becomes more like family when she and her daughter Amy bond with Sarah. They end up saving each other, in more ways than one.

Prescott and Cynthia Coulter, Sarah and Scott’s parents, are not privy to Sarah’s involvement in the war, but when they find out, do they shun or admire their daughter? Cynthia does her best to make a socially acceptable woman out of Sarah, but alas, Sarah’s personality and true nature prevail, and her spirit remains intact. In a gripping scene, mother and daughter face their issues. Dunne pulls it all together perfectly.

The War Between the Hearts has prose that flows, an engrossing plot using both intrinsic and extrinsic conflict, and impeccable editing. Every scene has a purpose, moving the story forward apace and making it a compelling read. The protagonists are believable with traits and flaws that make them human. Dunne has also achieved a high level of sexual tension between Sarah and Faith that keeps the reader rooting for true love to win in the end. With wonderfully rich characterizations and vivid descriptions that jump out of the page, The War Between the Hearts is a true winner that moved me every turn of the page. My highest praise goes to Nann Dunne for her achievement. Don’t miss this five-star novel.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

Title: Minus One – A Twelve Step Journey
Author: Bridget Bufford
ISBN 13: 978-1-56023-468-5
Publisher: Harrington Park Press, Alice Street Editions
Distributed by Haworth Press Inc (
Price: $17.95
Pages: 236 pages
Genre: Fiction/Lesbian

When we first meet Terry Manescu, in this Lambda Literary Award Finalist offering, she is truly at “Minus One” on her twelve-step journey. Out of control and out of luck, she calls her friend Angie, who comes to her aid without becoming a rescuer. With Angie’s help, Terry leaves the town where she has been living, and the woman she loves, but has hurt both emotionally and physically as a result of her addiction.

Returning to her hometown of St. Louis, Terry finds the Mississippi River a metaphor for her life. “The Mississippi’s faster than I remember…. The sides are full of twisting eddies and trash that swirls, submerges, resurfaces to spin out of control.” [pp 1-2] With this realization, Terry takes a first tentative step toward wholeness, but she doesn’t walk easily. Sometimes, she walks unsuccessfully and, often, her steps are reluctant.

Accompanying Terry through her struggle through her twelve-step program is fascinating, intriguing and surprisingly entertaining. As Terry learns to interact with old friends in a new way (without alcohol or drugs), she faces her demons with a tenacity that makes this character both real and more lovable than she perceives herself to be. Along the way, we meet others who are making the same journey, some wise, some with obvious flaws, but each of them has something to contribute to Terry’s healing. Finally, there are two more ghosts to confront—the woman she left behind on the day she hit bottom—and her fear that she will ultimately be rejected. Instead, she finds the tentative beginnings of the wholeness that she seeks.

This story ends fairly early in Terry’s recovery, but she is stronger and more whole than she or we ever thought she would be even at this stage. Her life is now filled with as much hope as there was despair when we first met her. In the course of reading this fine story, the reader is both inspired by and educated about the hardships and the triumphs of overcoming alcoholism through the struggles of one valiant woman.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly, July 2005 (Soon to be renamed: Harrington Lesbian Literary Quarterly)
Editor: Judith Stelboum
ISSN: 1522-8894
Publisher: Harrington Park Press, Alice Street Editions
Available From:
Price: Individual Subscription, $28 per year
Genre: Fiction/Lesbian

Another fine literary offering is found in the second issue of the Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly (Volume 6, Number 2) for 2005. The first work, "In the Nick of Time" by Felicia Von Vander Botch, is an amusing tale, a sort of Spaceballs meets Star Trek story. In it, three women take a side trip on their way to a Valusian vacation to save the earth from being destroyed at the hands of its own inhabitants due to eons of environmental mismanagement. Their attempts to visit key places, where they intend to violate the Prime Directive (reference Star Trek) to change the outcome of history, are constantly thwarted by a time-transfer station that is slightly out of calibration. An attempt to beam to 1948, New York, lands one of the women in Roswell, New Mexico, at an alien Other-worldly convention where she fits right in. The space-gals have an alternate plan, should they fail to save the planet—they intend to miniaturize the millions of lesbians and beam them aboard their small ship. "In the Nick of Time" is a creative and funny story that is sure to entertain—a great leadoff to this issue of HLFQ.

Kathleen Warnock’s "Last Call" captures the poignant side of dealing with a dying family member as she skillfully uses a splash of that humor that must accompany any tale about a dysfunctional family in order to make it palatable. The funny parts are, indeed, laugh-out-loud funny. The touching segments reveal one daughter’s experience while her mother and sister present very real, though different, looks at how people handle such events.

In "My Heart in Her Hand," Amie M. Evans gives us an unexpected perspective of the way in which we can be captivated by someone and find ourselves surprised by love. Added to this mix is another fine collection of artwork by Kristen Roos and Jennifer Polhemus, which is enhanced by Jennifer’s poetry, featured in this volume.

Jean Roberta explains the historical differences among erotica, pornography, and obscenity in print from the 1500s through more recent times. This is an interesting and revealing piece entitled "Clever Curll and Other Culprits: Lust and Reading Under Fire."

In "Treating Juno," Ragini Werner gives us a tale that weaves itself around us until we’re entangled in its mesh. It’s a fascinating portrayal of the mind's twists and turns as it plays tricks on its owner for one purpose—to survive a traumatic event. This is a very well written story with an unexpected ending.

Meredith Doench gives us a different type of "Survival" in her tale by that name. It’s the name of the game as Jules Hyde, the story’s narrator, tells us the rationale behind her choices that may well leave her lonely and alone.

This issue of the Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly is packed with a wide variety of both entertaining and thoughtful snapshots of lesbian life with a survival theme. This issue of the journal, soon to be renamed The Harrington Lesbian Literary Journal, is not to be missed.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Girls with Hammers
Author: Cynn Chadwick
ISBN 13: 978-1-56023-475-3
Publisher: Harrington Park Press, Alice Street Editions
Distributed by Haworth Press Inc (
Price: $19.95
No. of Pages: 280
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Mystery/Romance

Lily Cameron finds that the simple life she has led, running a two-woman carpentry operation, is about to become much more complicated in Girls with Hammers. This work was a recent Lambda Literary Award Nominee as well as a Golden Crown Literary Award Finalist. In this sequel to Cynn Chadwick’s Cat Rising, Lily struggles with having lost the companionship of her best friend, Cat, off on a quest in Scotland, as she tries to contend with the uncertainty of a waning love affair. As if that weren’t enough, the unexpected death of Lily’s father finds her at the head of Cameron Construction, a much larger company than her own carpentry operation from which the title of the book is derived.

As soon as Lily takes over, the construction crew walks off the job, leaving her scrambling for workers. She manages to round up some reluctant trainees in an attempt to salvage the job and receives help from the single holdout who worked for her father, the enigmatic Arlo Halsey. In spite of Arlo’s uncertain past, he becomes Lily’s conscience, her Jiminy Cricket; as she struggles with a brother who tries to undermine her, a motley crew, trouble at home, and her own grief and loss.

After Hannah, Lily’s partner, announces that she is accepting a job in Amsterdam to further her career, she leaves Lily with a crumbling support system. Things deteriorate even further when Lily must deal with vandalism, hate crimes, and an undercurrent of doubt about whether or not she can really trust Arlo—or her own brother, for that matter. As she struggles to try to salvage the pieces of her life and her family’s business, Lily longs for the days when life was much less complex and the comfort of Hannah and Cat were close at hand.

A bright spot in the story is Lily’s mother, Sophia Cameron. The quiet, acquiescing seventy-year-old evolves into a feisty conspirator, and she turns the fight for her daughter’s place in the family into a personal mission. Taking the bull by the horns, Sophia plots to overcome her son’s determination to get rid of the business and to save Lily from herself. As the story unfolds, Lily realizes that she really doesn’t know her mother nor does she understand what Sophia truly wants for her own life, a mirror of the feelings Lily has about her own life.

This story carries the reader along easily, revealing more about Lily, her mother, her crew, and various other characters that surround her. In the end, we want Lily to figure out what it is that she really longs for and then we want to see her get it. Her struggles are the stuff of which our own lives are made, and a happy ending for Lily, as for us, seems to come only when she is finally open and ready for it. Girls with Hammers is a study in overcoming grief and adversity, given to us in this entertaining tale of an imperfect heroine. Read it for enjoyment and for thought-provoking meditations on life, grief, and the search for the hidden truths in all our lives. A word of note: there are unresolved issues in this story. In the end, they are not unfinished business so much as details that tantalize us with the possibility of another sequel.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado


Title: Force of Nature
Author: Kim Baldwin
ISBN: 1-933110-23-6
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available From: Bella Books, and StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $15.95
Pages: 235
Genre: Fiction/ Lesbian Action/Romance

Heroes can be defined as people who do extraordinary acts in the face of danger and sometimes heroes are people who overcome adversity in their own lives. Kim Baldwin’s Force of Nature encompasses both kinds of heroes.

Force of Nature begins with explosive action. Gable McCoy is working as a volunteer firefighter when she is caught outdoors with a twister barreling towards her. She narrowly escapes, and when she emerges from the tornado, the scene all around her is devastation. This is when Gable meets Erin Richards who is trapped in her basement shower with no house left above her, just the remains of one. Gable spends a long night on the other side of the bathroom door comforting Erin as they wait for more help. Erin and Gable become fast friends after their shared experience. As they turn into best friends, Gable finds that she has more than friendly feelings toward Erin who has recently emerged from a bad marriage. Throughout this gripping story, Gable fights these feelings until she can no longer contain her powerful emotions toward Erin.

As I read Force of Nature nonstop from beginning to end, the story had me on the edge of my seat with the multiple action scenes of firestorms and heroic rescues. They are descriptive, visual, and I could even feel and smell the twister coming. Throughout these search and rescue efforts, Baldwin shows Gable’s continuing struggle to deny her attraction to Erin. Gable’s aching desire and her attempts to hide her sexual orientation from Erin, for fear of losing their friendship, are convincing.

Force of Nature has rapid-fire search and rescue scenes, and Baldwin gives the reader good insight into firefighting throughout the story. She blends the romance into the plot so it complements rather than detracts from the action while building Gable’s angst so that we as the reader suffer along with Gable as she hides her torturous secret. The ending is potent and heroic while giving us sweet release.

With Force of Nature, Kim Baldwin has created another compelling read filled with multiple conflicts that interconnect well. With only her second novel, she is fast becoming a force as a lesbian fiction author.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: The Gay Detective Novel: Lesbian and Gay Main Characters and Themes in Mystery Fiction
Author: Judith A. Markowitz
Publisher: McFarland,
ISBN: 0786419571
Price: $35.00
Pages: 312
Genre: Nonfiction

Judith Markowitz’s compendium of information about modern novels containing gay and lesbian characters and themes is one terrific book. Focusing on mystery fiction (not so much thrillers or other sorts of crime fiction), the bulk of the book contains five major sections: Police, PIs, Pro Sleuths, Amateur Sleuths, and Partners, all within the section entitled "The Authors & Their Characters." Markowitz quotes many authors (such as Katherine V. Forrest, RD Zimmerman, Joseph Hansen, Val McDermid, and many more), all of whom give unique insight into the creation of characters and the way that themes are illuminated.

The information about the authors and their intents and themes is fascinating. Markowitz has broken down all the books into various topics and listed out which novels talk about which themes. This results in an extensive, ably organized section detailing the themes across various series. I soon saw clearly that: 1) gay and lesbian mysteries contain a huge variety of themes and subplots rarely dealt with in mainstream novels; and 2) gay detective fiction is usually not just about detection but also about the nature of crimes—often against gay people—and the society in which such offenses are committed. The worlds in which these investigations take place are broad and varied, and it’s not just coming out or homophobia or gay rights that authors deal with. Markowitz’s list of themes includes everything from Adoption and Age to Hustling, Erotica, S/M, Bashing, Youth Issues, AIDS, Outing, and more. The intersection of a crime or injustice with the attempt by a sleuth to discover and right the wrong often makes for complex plots and subplots in gay and lesbian fiction.

The book includes notes, bibliography, an index, and a Foreword by Katherine V. Forrest. All in all, it's a good collection which covers many standalone mysteries and most of the gay and lesbian series books for the last 40-50 years. This is one resource book that any library, crime fiction writer, or mystery fan will want on their shelves!
Reviewed by Lori L. Lake

Title: Life’s Little Edge
Author: Roselle Graskey
ISBN: 09754366600
Publisher: P.D. Publishing Inc.,
Price: $19.99/ebook $8.99
Pages: 320
Genre: Lesbian Intrigue/Romance

Roselle Graskey’s Life’s Little Edge is a well-written, gripping story with an unusual plot.

No one is who they seem to be in this story about former Army Sergeant Callan O’Malley turned biker and gunrunner. The story begins with flashes of the injured sergeant in an Army hospital during Desert Storm where she meets Lt. Ellen Rivers, a nurse who treats her wounds. After O’Malley gets home, she eventually hooks up with Rivers, and they fall in love. Three years later, Rivers dies in a tragic accident. Fast forward to O’Malley exiting a prison where she has served time, and we are brought to the present day with a heated poker game in the bikers’ club. In this game, she wins a woman named Terri with an all or nothing bet by Terri’s abusive boyfriend, Trey. As a biker, she must accept this bet and accept Terri as her woman when she wins, or O’Malley will put both of their lives in jeopardy. Terri’s ex starts spreading rumors that Terri is a cop so Terri and O’Malley have to pretend they are lovers to protect themselves.

In Life’s Little Edge, O’Malley is the heart and soul of the plot and Graskey illustrates all of her dimensions. She cultivates a complicated character who is flawed and honorable simultaneously, who has anger, regrets, strength, and tenderness all at once. While O’Malley treats Terri well, she also carries a lot of rage and takes it out on her fellow bikers at times. O’Malley fights the demons of her past while participating in illegal activities in the present. O’Malley’s and Terri’s love scenes are scorching and add force to the story.

Life’s Little Edge uses flashbacks and O’Malley’s memories successfully to fill the reader in on the back-story, but Graskey does not give away anything too early as she leaves out critical plot points that prevent the reader from figuring out where this story is headed. We, as the reader, are left with anticipation as to how Terri and O’Malley get to where they are now. Their pasts don’t add up, and we must keep the pages turning to find out. We are brought into the dangerous world of drug dealing, gunrunning, dirty cops, and possible murder, but with a cast of characters who have CIA, Army, and Air Force backgrounds, we do not know who the criminals are and who the good guys are. Even in the final pages, we are captivated by this riveting story and do not get closure until the last word is written.

It is said that the best storytellers write about what they know. Graskey, as an Army veteran, has done just that. I highly recommend this thrilling, one-of-a-kind love story.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: Hunter’s Way
Author: Gerri Hill
ISBN: 1-59493-018-X
Puvblisher: Bella Books, Inc.,
Available From: Bella Books, and StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $12.95
Pages: 366
Genre: Action thriller/ Lesbian Romance

Gerri Hill, time after time, creates fresh, powerful, thrilling stories intertwined with heart-pounding romances, and Hunter’s Way is no exception.

Tori Hunter is an arrogant, abrasive Homicide detective who alienates every partner she has ever had. In the middle of a series of murders, Samantha Kennedy transfers from the Assault Division and is paired with Tori after she blows through another partner. Even though Tori is considered a nightmarish partner, Samantha stands up to her. While Samantha challenges her attitude, she respects Tori’s strong instincts as an effective detective. This bodes well for their relationship as they pursue a serial killer who may be targeting the gay and lesbian community. As their professional partnership develops, their strong attraction for one another is undeniable. Their only obstacles are Sam’s boyfriend and Tori’s very tragic past.

Hill is a master at building her characters’ professional and personal relationships slowly, effectively absorbing them into the main storyline. We get to know Sam and Tori well as the plot progresses. We understand Tori’s total immersion into her career as her horrific past unfolds. We see Sam struggle with her lack of passion for her boyfriend while she is discovering new and powerful feelings for her partner that cross the line of professionalism. Tori‘s and Sam’s characters grow as their partnership intensifies. They learn to trust each other as they encounter dangerous situations, and this aspect of the partnership is very different for Tori. For the first time in Tori’s career, she has a real partner, and for the first time in her life, she has a friend who cares about her. Tori also wrestles with inappropriate feelings, especially because she believes Sam is straight. But as the violence in their daily lives continues, they are forced to face their attraction to one another.

Hill weaves a romance that leaves this reader breathless while crafting a police procedural that is thorough and easy to follow. The stages of tracking down a serial killer are interspersed in the story, moving it along smoothly. The dialogue throughout is on fire with passion. The tenderness in the story embraces the reader and is overpowering. Hill’s pacing is even with no abrupt starts or endings. Even though we learn the killer’s identity two-thirds of the way through the story, the ending is a surprise. There is more to Hunter’s Way than we suspect.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: In Too Deep
Author: Ronica Black
ISBN: 1-933110-17-1
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available From: Bella Books, and
StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $15.95
Pages: 329
Genre: Lesbian Crime/Romance

Ronica Black’s debut novel In Too Deep has everything from non- stop action and intriguing well-developed characters to steamy erotic love scenes. From the opening scenes where Black plunges the reader headfirst into the story to the explosive unexpected ending, In Too Deep has what it takes to rise to the top.

Erin McKenzie is the newly appointed homicide detective who goes undercover as a lesbian trying to coax night-club owner Elizabeth Adams into confessing. Adams is suspected of several grisly, very personal murders. Erin, who is straight and separated from her husband, gets help from veteran detective Patricia Henderson. As Erin’s liaison, Henderson, as a lesbian, works to make McKenzie believable before she embarks on her first trip to La Femme, Adam’s night club. During these sessions together with Henderson, McKenzie begins to question her sexuality while Henderson develops more than professional feelings towards her colleague. To make this even more difficult for McKenzie, she needs to get Adams interested in her without showing any desire on her part. This way she can gather information on Adams who has an airtight alibi for the last murder. While undercover, McKenzie gets more than she bargained for, jeopardizing her career and possibly her future.

Black does an outstanding job of developing parallel plots of suspense and romance. They are intertwined seamlessly and flow as one. She creates pages upon pages of built up desire with Henderson, McKenzie, and Adams, constructing a convincing triangle of angst, passion, and jealousy. Their conflicts are heightened as business and pleasure are intermixed, crossing boundaries and leaving the reader with many questions as to who the bad guys are in this story. The tantalizing love scenes, especially in the swimming pool, will leave the reader wanting more.

In Too Deep has solid portrayals of the characters, and their interaction with each other sizzles. Adams is an enigma, fiercely loyal and protective, but vulnerable. McKenzie is naïve and confused about her sexuality, but when pushed, she stands her ground. Henderson, fueled by an inner rage from past associations and craving a love that is lasting, ends up coming through as a solid cop and friend. This cast is unbeatable as they move the story along with its plot twists.

Black has a winner with In Too Deep, one that will keep the reader turning the pages until the very last one.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: Safe Harbor (Second Edition)
Author: Radclyffe
ISBN: 1-933110-13-9
Publisher: Bold Stroke Books, Inc.,
Available From: Bella Books, and
StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $14.95
Pages: 232

Award-winning writer Radclyffe lists among her bestselling novels Safe Harbor, in which Reese Conlon leaves a military career to become Provincetown’s new Deputy Sheriff. Once there, she finds herself fighting homophobia, which is directed at P-Town’s local youth. While upholding the law, Reese also discovers a truth about herself when she meets and falls in love with Dr. Victoria (Tory) King.

Safe Harbor has a character- driven plot and presents a diverse well-defined supporting cast with each having an integral contribution to the story. The main character, Reese, is easy to fall in love with. An extremely private person, she has everyone curious to know more about her. “She’s handsome, strong, sensitive, tender, and deeply passionate. And devoted—can’t beat that,” according to her creator Radclyffe; Reese turns more than a few heads. Comparable to a knight in shining armor, she is hard-working, decent, and honest. Reese upholds the law and takes her oath “to serve and protect” very seriously. Her boss, Sheriff Nelson Parker, and other locals are in awe of this admirable woman.

Sheriff Parker has a lot more than crime to deal with when he learns his daughter Brianna is gay. Radclyffe does a commendable job describing the anguish he feels as he works his way, hopefully, toward acceptance.

Reese meets Dr. King while out on patrol to check on a break in at the East End Health Clinic. Tory has an “unanticipated visceral reaction” (p. 21) to the precise, professional, and truly stunning sheriff. Having endured a bad breakup and an accident that dashed her Olympic hopes to bits, Tory is leery of the gorgeous, self-assured woman, and she’s unnerved to be so taken with Reese. Trying not to fall for Reese’s charm is a daunting task—especially when Reese says things like, “I saw you this morning—kayaking out on the bay. You were so much a part of the sea that you didn’t even disturb the rhythm of the waves” (p. 31). Tory endears the reader with her professional manner while adeptly healing the sick in her care. Dr. King is a respected physician who puts others’ needs before her own. In hopes of avoiding further heartache, she adamantly tries to deny love. Can she learn to trust Reese and more importantly, can she trust her own feelings?

Brianna (Bri) Parker, the sheriff’s gay daughter, is a tough, troubled, and frightened youth who becomes the target of gay bashing. Although strong, Bri is no match for her attacker. Reese helps Brianna overcome obstacles that she, and other gay teens face. Surprisingly, even the “gay Mecca” of P-town has its share of hatred. Reese helps not only Bri, but all the other gay kids in her jurisdiction in their fight against homophobia.
Tory’s sister, Cath, acts as Tory’s conscience, playing devil’s advocate as she wrestles with her heart and mind. When Tory thinks, “[Reese] has no idea what she’s doing—she hasn’t a clue to the effect she has on any lesbian with a heartbeat” (p. 111), in fact, Reese has no idea what she does to straight women and men either. Cath may be a straight, married, mother of two, but she empathizes with her sister and can fully appreciate how Tory feels about Reese.

Safe Harbor is a love story, a coming out story, and crime drama all rolled into one. When Reese was young, her mother, Kate, left home to be with her lover, Jean. She reconnects with her mother not knowing what to expect. Reese also deals with her father’s reaction to the news that she’s gay.

Caring deeply about the author’s characters, yearning to find out what happens next, feeling like you’re a part of the action, and hating for the book to end, is what great novels are all about. Safe Harbor by Radclyffe is such a novel. From the beginning, Radclyffe uses mystery and foreshadowing to keep the reader interested, and there is never a dull moment. The fabulous setting is the perfect backdrop and makes the reader long for a trip to Provincetown, with its “Mardi Gras energy” (p. 90).

A great story, memorable characters, fresh dialogue, important issues, scenic descriptions, an engaging plot, and meticulous editing make Safe Harbor a five star novel that can be enjoyed by both a gay and straight audience. I highly recommend Safe Harbor, and anything else penned by award-winning novelist Radclyffe, whose recent accolades include two 2005 Golden Crown Literary Awards for Fated Love and Justice in the Shadows.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

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Our Reviewers
Bios of Authors

Our Reviewers

Anna Furtado

Book Reviewer for Just About Write; Author of The Heart’s Desire – Book One of The Briarcrest Chronicles, a 2005 GCLS “Goldie” Award Finalist.
Anna's Web site: Contact her at

Arlene Germain

For many years a teacher of English and Creative Writing, Arlene Germain lives with her partner in Massachusetts. She is a book reviewer for The Midwest Book Review, The Independent Gay Writer, the Just About Write Newsletter/E-zine, The Crown—the Golden Crown Literary Society newsletter, and The
Arlene is also a fiction editor. Contact her at

Kathi Isserman

Kathi lives with her partner and two very spoiled cats outside Washington, D.C. When not reading all kinds of books, she can be found on the golf course attempting to hit that little white ball. Her reviews can also be read at,, and The Independent Gay Writer. You can write to her at

Lori L. Lake

Minnesotan Lori L. Lake is the author of the “Gun” series, Different Dress, Ricochet in Time, and a book of short stories called Stepping Out. She also edited the 2005 Lammy finalist The Milk of Human Kindness: Lesbian Authors Write About Mothers and Daughters. Lori is currently at work on her sixth novel, Snow Moon Rising, which comes out in February. She teaches fiction writing at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and often reviews books for various print and online journals.

Cheri Rosenberg

Cheri Rosenberg is a Registered Dietitian who in her spare time writes reviews for Independent Gay Writer, Midwest Book Review, and Just About Write. She is currently working on her upcoming novel A Closet in Syosset and assorted short stories. Cheri lives with her husband and three children in a suburb of New York. You can contact her at

Author Bios

Kim Baldwin

Kim Baldwin and her partner live in the home of her dreams—a snug cabin surrounded by hundreds of acres of woods and abundant wildlife. She started writing fiction in 2001 after a 20-year career in journalism. She’s discovered that she much prefers novels to news, and small town life to rush hour traffic, but wishes there were more ethnic restaurants in the boonies. Nature, romance and adventure are passions that make frequent appearances in her stories.

Ronica Black

Born in North Carolina, Ronica Black now lives in the desert southwest where she spends her time creating the images in her mind. Whether it be painting, drawing, or writing, she simply cannot keep her hands still. A lover of true crime books, she spends any remaining time engrossed in the tales of unsolved crimes and forensic files where she gets many of her ideas for her own stories.
Story telling since she was thirteen, she first typed up her lesbian-themed romance in 2001, a short story entitled A Chance Encounter. Since then, she has graduated from short stories to novels. In Too Deep is her first novel but certainly not her last! Romance, passion, and creativity are her great fortunes and she shares them all with the woman she loves.

Bridget Bufford

Bridget Bufford is an Amherst Writers & Artists affiliated workshop leader. Her poetry and stories appear in several journals, as well as the anthology Pillow Talk II. She has personal essays upcoming in Life Stories: Casework in the First Person and in A Continuing Passion. Another of Bridget's essays, "Sacrifice" is featured in The Use of Personal Narratives in the Helping Professions: A Teaching Casebook. (Hayworth Press).

Cynn Chadwick

Cynn Chadwick is a lecturer for the Literature and Language Department at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Nann Dunne

Nann Dunne has been a professional editor for more than twenty-five years and began writing fiction about eight years ago. She's had four books published: co-author with Karen (Surtees) King of True Colours and its sequel, Many Roads to Travel; author of the mystery, Staying in the Game, and of the recently published historical adventure/romance, The War Between the Hearts.

Nann co-edited and contributed a short story, "The Relief Pitcher," to Infinite Pleasures: An Anthology of Lesbian Erotica. Upcoming short story publications are: “The Broken Teddy Bear,” in January 2006 issue of Khimairal Ink Magazine; and “Dominoes,” in the Romance for Life anthology.

In addition, Nann is editor-in-chief and publisher of the online newsletter/ezine, Just About Write and currently edits for several publishers as well as doing freelance editing.
Roselle Graskey

Roselle was born in Virginia but got to Texas as soon as those little feet would allow. Currently living in Dallas, she shares her life with family, friends, and more than a handful of animals. She is a veteran of the U.S. Army, having served as a Military Police Officer in Cold War Germany and later as Supply Specialist during the Persian Gulf War. Part Irish and part Comanche, she is always searching for more of her culture. Her interests range from rock climbing, Celtic music, Far Side comics, writing (which she has been doing since age 5 or so: she does not count years of crayon scribbling), and watching hockey either on the tube or in person. Roselle's first published novel is entitled October Echoes (ISBN: 1-930928-35-1).

Gerri Hill

Gerri Hill grew up in a tiny Texas town then moved to Colorado as soon as the snow melted in 1992. There, she found "my paradise." Hill loves to go hiking, mountain biking, and camping. Now, gardening and yard work take up most of her spare time. Gulf Breeze, Sierra City, and Hunter's Way are some of her works.


Radclyffe, having at various times in her life wanted to be a cowboy, an astronaut, a detective, and a doctor, finally settled for being one and writing about the others. An author and a surgeon, she credits her parents for both her careers – her mother, having raised her on crossword puzzles and afternoon soaps, for her love of words and her fascination with the complexities of human relationships, and her father –  a shirt maker – for her skill at assembling a whole from many parts. These inherited talents have contributed significantly to both her writing and the practice of plastic surgery, since both constructing a plot and reconstructing a body part require fluidly of thought in the midst of creativity (also known as changing horses mid-stream).

After practicing surgery for thirty years while writing for pleasure “on the side,” she has decided in the last six years that it was time to reverse the process. Although still practicing surgery full-time, she hopes soon to spend all her time “working with words.”  To that end, in 2004 she established Bold Strokes Books, Inc, a publishing company focused on producing a diverse collection of lesbian fiction. Eleven new titles from six authors – some veterans and some exciting newcomers – are scheduled for 2005.

She draws on her experiences in medicine and the martial arts (she has a black belt in Ju Jitsu and a brown belt in Aikido) as a foundation for her romances as well her police procedural/ action series. In addition to writing – a consuming passion – she collects lesbian pulps, enjoys photographing scenes for her book covers, and shares her life with her partner, Lee, and assorted canines.

Judith P. Stelboum

Judith P. Stelboum is Editor-in-Chief of Alice Street Editions for lesbian fiction and nonfiction books. She is the author of Past Perfect, a novel of lesbian life, and co-editor of The Lesbian Polyamory Reader: Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy and Casual Sex. Her essays, fiction, and poetry have appeared in a variety of anthologies and journals. She is a reviewer/ essayist for Lesbian Review of Books and Lambda Book Report. She is Professor Emerita of English, Women’s Studies, and Lesbian Studies at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York.