Reviews for November 2005
||Title: Connecting Hearts
Author: Val Brown and MJ Walker
Publisher: Blue Feather Books, Ltd.
Available From: Blue Feather Books, www.bluefeatherbooks.com
Connecting Hearts by Val Brown and MJ Walker is a poignant story about two women living on different continents. Denise Jennings (DJ) is a reclusive British poet who lives with her Aunt Sara. When Sara is diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or Motor Neuron Disease, DJ is searching for answers on how to help her aunt who is like a mother to her and who is the only family she has left. In desperation, Denise contacts an American nurse Miranda (Randa) Martin who works for an Internet health information service. Not only does DJ get medical advice, compassion, and friendship, but she also gets so much more.
In a character-driven plot with terminal illness as the backdrop lurks a beautiful love story of two women brought together by fate. One is strong-willed and fiercely independent while the other is nurturing and caring. One is a reclusive poet who protects her privacy, and the other is a registered nurse who wears her heart on her sleeve. Randa is the most honest person Denise has ever known, and it frightens her a little. Will the nurse be able to help the poet through a difficult time in her life as her aunt is dying, and more important, will the poet accept her help? When love knocks on her door at a vulnerable time, will Denise accept that she can revel in happiness even though surrounded by sadness?
Despite her diagnosis, Sara remains stoic and an inspiration of hope to us all. Her bravery and her unconditional love for her niece are palpable, heroic, and commendable. Watching her wither away brings sadness, but her strength of character, humor, and innate happiness leave a lasting impression. Denise realizes how truly blessed she is to have this fine woman in her life and is understandably devastated to be losing her.
Brown and Walker have done an excellent job of portraying all aspects of terminal illness including the necessity of drawing up a living will before the need for one arises, the toll it takes on loved ones, and the importance of making necessary arrangements. The authors manage to convey the difficulty, without falling into unnecessary melodrama and cliché. With all the hype of the Terri Schiavo case, Connecting Hearts portrays a timely topic and stresses the importance of writing advance directives while a person is still healthy and mentally capable.
The authenticity whereby the authors use dialogue in the form of emails between DJ and Randa before they meet in person rings true. DJ’s poetry also adds significantly to the enjoyment and beauty of this novel. DJ tells her agent, “Not long ago, somebody said to me that reading poetry was a way to make us stronger and wiser without causing us any pain…What I mean is that hurt and pain, and even desire, do have a function. If these feelings can be expressed through verse, then maybe you can touch others. You can show people they are not alone” [p.63]. DJ shows her love and compassion through her poetry. Randa reveals her emotions through her actions and words. She is a compassionate nurse who not only preserves the dignity of her patients but when she cares deeply about someone, there is no mistaking her affections. Denise has a lot to learn from Randa in that department.
As in all stories that deal with terminal illness, and Connecting Hearts is no exception, the reader knows Sara is going to die from the very beginning and yet when it happens, the tears flow anyway. But, Connecting Hearts is also uplifting and so romantic that the reader can feel good about this book long after it is finished. Romance lovers will delight in Randa’s impression of her first kiss with DJ. She exclaims, “I feel like I’ve been branded, and it was just by a kiss!...The songwriter who said, ‘a kiss is just a kiss’ never got one from Denise Jennings!” [p. 133]. This well-written engaging story is riveting, enjoyable, witty, and bittersweet, as well as real, honest, and gritty. Learning about the lives of the three brave women as the story unfolds, makes it is easy to be enamored and intrigued by DJ, Randa, and Sara.
If you want an inspirational, sweet, and romantic love story with snappy dialogue, a clever story line, meticulous editing, loveable characters, enchanting emails, and beautiful poetry, then Connecting Hearts is the five-star read for you. It will touch a special place in your heart.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg
||Title: Ginger’s Fire
Author: Maureen Brady
Publisher: Alice Street Editions/Haworth Press Inc.
Maureen Brady’s novel, Ginger’s Fire, focuses upon the trials and tribulations of relationships and the arduous journey toward self-understanding and acceptance. Ginger and her partner of eight years, Nellie, have worked long and hard to restore an old farmhouse in upstate New York. Ironically, while they build their dream house, their relationship begins to crumble. Unfortunately, a devastating fire destroys countless hours of hard work and each must re-assess their lives and goals. This leads Ginger to strike off on her own and attempt to find again the inner spark of who she once was.
Ginger’s journey of self-discovery is guided by a sympathetic therapist, Esther, and it is this woman’s patient counseling which enables Ginger to explore her past and cope with the baggage that has fueled Ginger’s alcoholism and dependency. Along the way she unlocks the secrets of her childhood, deals with issues of trust and infidelity, and begins to understand the meaning of Socrates’ statement, “The unexamined life is not worth living for man.”
Brady’s characterization is quite delineated; the reader has a genuine understanding of Ginger’s desire to comprehend the changes in her life and her attitudes. The secondary characters, Esther the therapist, Roxy the sexy gardener, and Nellie the equivocator, are developed and intrinsic to Ginger’s discovery of self. At times one wants to shake a few of these characters for occasional lapses into complacency and self-pity. However, overall, the author has captured the dichotomous natures of these women.
The point of view of any novel is critical to both the storytelling and the comprehension of that story. Although some readers may find the use of the third person present to be more in the moment, this reader found it to be less desirable, and at times, off-putting. Brady has created an overall poignant tone and consistent mood. However, both appeared to lose their intensity somewhat when one was so aware of the present tense exposition.
Ginger’s Fire is a novel whose title clearly presents the thematic content. Brady has managed to capture with clarity and honesty those most vulnerable of moments in a person’s life, the crossroads of being held captive by the past and of being shown the way to personal redemption. As the protagonist so finitely displays, self-actualization can be so painfully uplifting. Although this novel is relatively short, one hundred and seventy-four pages, it succeeds in creating within the reader an empathy for Ginger and others who have reached this pivotal point in both their emotional as well as intellectual growth. Brady is also the author of Give Me Your Good Ear (1994) which this reviewer also highly recommends reading.
Reviewed by Arlene Germain
||Title: The Value of Valor
Author: Lynn Ames
Publisher: Intaglio Books, www.intagliopub.com
Available From: StarCrossed Productions, www.scp-inc.biz
The prologue of this, the third book in the Kate Kyle/Jay Parker series (The Price of Fame, The Cost of Commitment), starts out by introducing us to a Native American healer tending a young woman with a dislocated shoulder, head wounds, and many bruises, cuts, and scrapes. The blond-haired, green-eyed woman awakens once, long enough to communicate that she doesn’t know who she is. The healer and her people have sheltered her for two days, and based upon the testimony of some of the tribal youth, they decide that for her own good, they will keep the injured woman hidden.
In the first chapter, we learn that Kate Kyle has lost her lover, Jay Parker, in a fiery accident in Chinle, Arizona. No spoilers here: It doesn’t take long into the first chapter of the book before the reader puts two and two together. The woman the tribe is sheltering must be the same person, right? Can there be any suspense if Jay Parker survived? And will it only be a matter of time before Kate and Jay are reunited—or could that all go wrong?
There’s more at stake in this complex novel than first meets the eye. Jay wasn’t in an accident; it was clearly a hit, but her head injuries prevent her from remembering much of anything. Not knowing who she is may be more dangerous for her—and for the people who are nursing her—than knowing would be.
And Kate is in terrible grief, but she’s still the press secretary to the president of the United States and has a job to do, and therein lies the place where this plot cranks up. It’s the president—and anyone with power who is allied with the president—who is the ultimate target here. A treasonous organization hinted at in the first two books of the series finally comes to the forefront with plans that have long been in motion.
After the initial set-up, which also establishes the villainous characters desiring unlimited power and global domination, the tension mounts. Kate struggles to deal with the pain of Jay’s death, and she cannot let it go. Despite her anguish, she must learn the truth about what really happened to her lover. Soon she discovers that there is more going on behind the scenes on all fronts than she ever imagined, and only through the help of good friends and patriots might she be able to thwart wicked machinations.
With every chapter that passes, the crosses and double-crosses get trickier and more twisted until the exciting denouement. You’ll be left surprised and satisfied by the ending.
This novel can stand alone. You don’t have to have read the first two in the series, but this third in the trilogy is a fitting completion to the plot threads brought up in the earlier books. Fast-paced, compulsively readable, and full of twists and turns, The Value of Valor will keep you up late into the night. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Lori L. Lake
Author: Carrie Brennan
Publisher: Yellow Rose Books, www.regalcrest.biz
Available From: StarCrossed Productions, www.scp-inc.biz
Carrie Brennan's debut novel, Curve, delves into the heart-warming, shaky, sometimes frightening ground where many romance novels end—what happens after the initial commitment of true love. The story moves quickly past the first blush of love and dives right into the heady passions, trials, and triumphs that follow.
When Maggie Monahan, a closeted bike cop, and Anne Doyle, an out, career-oriented lawyer, can't manage to get past their own inherent shyness, they are pushed together by Maggie's best friend. Their initial rocky start moves into a quick, passionate romance where they realize they were meant to be together. But is it forever? As they move inexorably toward a deep, mutual love and decide to live together, the relatively smooth start to their relationship begins to hit a few expected and unexpected bumps. As the tale unfolds, Maggie's family becomes just one more roadblock to her happiness with Anne. Meanwhile, Anne's own past relationships cloud her ability to accept Maggie, and the trouble that brings threatens to tear the two lovers apart.
Brennan's wit and candor show throughout this novel, where she occasionally pokes fun at the stereotypical love at first sight that plays a key role in the start of Curve. But rather than dwell on the much-covered aspect of falling in love, Brennan takes the reader a step further, examining in detail what happens after the announcement and acceptance of love. Brennan explores the difficulties that lovers face when their past and the world around them invade the territory of their love. While the novel occasionally moves at a slow pace, Curve picks up momentum in the latter half, as Maggie and Anne must overcome the worst of their individual pasts or let it overwhelm their future.
Curve is an interesting journey into the kinds of problems that really do break up relationships. While Brennan resolves some early problems too easily for the women, she finishes with a tumultuous climax that keeps the story's tension to the end.
Reviewed by Sandra Barret
Title: Innocent Hearts, 2nd Edition by Radclyffe
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, www.boldstrokesbooks.com
Available From: Bella Books, www.bellabooks.com; StarCrossed Productions, www.SCP-inc.biz.
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Historical Romance
(The second edition is extensively revised with 7500 added words.)
Throughout history the American Dream can be depicted as taking us where our hearts lead us, forging new frontiers. What we “should” do is not in the pioneer spirit. Set in the Montana territory of 1865, Innocent Hearts is the love story of Kate and Jessie, a story born of what we can do if we follow our hearts.
18-year-old Kate Beecher and her parents spend months enduring grueling travel in a wagon train from Boston, Massachusetts, to New Hope in the territory of Montana. Kate is very excited about her new home because she believes she never fit into Boston Society. As she explores New Hope, she runs into cowboy and rancher, Jessie Forbes. Kate is intrigued by this unusual woman who owns a ranch and wears pants and a Stetson. Kate wants to get to know her better so she offers to take Jessie’s photograph. As the two spend more time together, they discover feelings unlike any they have experienced before. As Jessie and Kate form a bond, they realize what is truly in their hearts. But with the cruelty and harshness of the frontier, can a love like Jessie’s and Kate’s last?
As a history buff, I love great period romances, and Innocent Hearts is no exception. Radclyffe has written an uncommon love story with beautiful prose that, I believe, is true to the time period. The author has done her homework. The depictions of New Hope and the surrounding land are vivid and alive, capturing the sights, sounds, and smells of the dusty and rugged Montana town. I felt I was transported back in time by the fullness of her scenes. The physical descriptions of the people, streets, and stores give the reader an understanding of 1865 Montana. Unlike Radclyffe’s other romances that are heavy on character growth and dialogue, Innocent Hearts balances setting with character development and dialogue so we can live the story along with Kate and Jessie.
The strength of this story is its timelessness. Radclyffe, through her moving text, illustrates that our struggles with acceptance of women loving women is as old as time—only the setting changes. The romance is sweet, sensual, and touching. There is a slow discovery of sexual desire, and Jessie and Kate are both confused by these stirrings. Their lovemaking is genuine with not a hint of the 21st century conveyed.
Innocent Hearts and Radclyffe have given us an enlightening history lesson. With insight into another time that exemplifies our differences as women, the story also points out our commonality in our struggles. The magic and wonder of discovering first love and the efforts we take so we can fit in are the same in 1865 as they are in 2005.
With Innocent Hearts, the reader discovers the breadth of Radclyffe’s talent as a writer and storyteller. She shows us that the courage to love knows no bounds and experiences no limits.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman
||Title: Murky Waters
Author: Robin Alexander
Publisher: Intaglio Publications
Available From: StarCrossed Productions, www.SCP-inc.biz
Claire Murray, her life fraught with uncertainty and trepidation, has relocated from Houston to Baton Rouge and begun her new job as the travel manager for the Valor Marine Corporation. She realizes that she has left behind some unresolved problems but, nonetheless, she is hoping to make a fresh start. Tristan Delacroix is the head of the Valor Marine personnel department, and although Claire and she do not hit it off well when first they meet, Claire is intrigued by the mysterious woman. Each has secrets and each has no desire to share them any time soon. Complicating the situation even more is the fact that Claire has unfortunately not escaped her most serious problem—a stalker has followed her to Louisiana.
Murky Waters is Robin Alexander’s second published novel, the first being Gloria’s Inn. The latter was a somewhat short yet irreverently humorous novel which was an entertaining light read. Murky Waters is a slightly longer novel but one with a distinct difference. The author has ventured into the darker realm of human behavior and interaction. There is a maturity to her writing, a more stylistically developed piece of fiction.
The characterization of both Claire and Tristan is a gradually evolved set of circumstances. The speech and actions appear to be more precisely drawn, and the thoughts and feelings of these women are more finitely developed. Both these women have unsettling baggage, and Alexander takes her time sharing this with the reader. The dialogue flows freely and rings true as spoken by these young women. With the abysmal prejudice of Mallory, Tristan’s exasperating mother, to the cavalier comments of Ellen, Claire’s friend, the reader becomes a part of the scene, and this ability to empathize with all the characters is a result of carefully crafted writing. It is apparent to this reader that greater care was taken with the editing of this novel, and the reader benefits from this.
Overall, Murky Waters is an engrossing reading experience. The plotting and characters keep the reader thoroughly involved and pleasantly entertained. There are themes here which will invariably lead to some lively discussions among those who have read this novel. The conclusion is certainly different and may even cause some to question its validity, but that doubt in itself is something the author has successfully achieved.
It is always encouraging to see an author apparently learn from previous work and improve in such a way as to enable her genuine talent to come forth. Despite being a relatively new author, Robin Alexander’s latest release shows an inordinate amount of growth and promise. This reader enthusiastically awaits her next book.
Reviewed by Arlene Germain
Title: Descanso—A Soul Journey
Author: Cynthia Tyler
Publisher: Harrington Park Press, Alice Street Editions
Distributed by Haworth Press Inc (www.haworthpressinc.com)
Early on in the story, we are informed that descansos, Spanish for “resting place,” is the term used for the roadside memorials that mark the spot where there has been a death, [pg 2] and this story shows us the many little descansos in the life of a woman named Chris Cameron.
Grieving the sudden and violent death of her partner, Chris tries to carry on in her job as a psychotherapist and feels the frustration caused by having to supervise incompetent student therapists and do the damage control that inevitably must follow as a result of their inexperience.
Her personal life is no better. She goes through the motions of trying to carry on, yet feels that she is unable to move past the loss of her beloved Robyn. Trying to establish relationships with other women isn’t working—not with an old flame with commitment issues—and not with the cute young thing that doesn’t understand why a 40 year old who has recently experienced a traumatic event in her life can’t just get on with her life and join the party scene.
Corey Parker, Chris’ best friend, often can’t get beyond her own relationship difficulties. Although Corey always comes through in some measure when Chris needs her, Chris still becomes the sounding board for Corey and her partner Kaye as they try to work through their own issues.
In the midst of all this turmoil, Chris learns that her aging aunt and the aunt's partner of 40 years need some help of their own. She comes to their aid with groceries and errand running and, finally, brings them to a mailbox chain store to have their domestic partnership agreement notarized in one of the book’s most poignant and witty scenes.
While all this is going on, other strange events begin to take place around Chris. She thinks she hears her dead partner’s voice, the birdbath in the backyard runs bloody, and she gets a strange e-mail that causes her to be concerned that she’s heading toward madness. She decides that, although therapy doesn’t feel right, she must do something to let go of her inability to say goodbye to Robyn, so she begins a quest to decide what form her healing process will take.
When the police are called to the clinic after a violent incident with a patient, Chris encounters Linda Vasquez, a police officer she had met earlier in the story. Chris had already recognized something of a mutual attraction, but this second encounter leads them to exchange phone numbers. As the story progresses, Chris realizes that Linda is someone that she would like in her life, but she isn’t ready—yet. First she needs to concentrate on dealing with Robyn’s death, and choosing to do so with a shamanistic healer, she takes a first step in saying goodbye to her beloved partner. This is the turning point for Chris. She starts to emerge from her cocoon of grief into the light of wholeness and happiness.
The story is well written and portrays grief in very real terms. The struggle that anyone must go through at the loss of a loved one, while still trying to live in and cope with the real world is indeed that—a struggle. Often the person making this journey encounters moments when she questions her sanity, when events seem larger than life, and troubles seem more than any one person can bear. Yet there is a doorway, if it can be found. There is emergence from the cocoon. There is hope and life on the other side of grief as Chris Cameron eventually finds out, but not until one final nearly catastrophic event.
The characters are fully developed and realistically portrayed in this story whose plot twists and turns. We wonder over and over if Chris is really losing her mind or if someone is playing a sick joke on her. We also hope against all odds that this woman will find a path that will lead her out of her grief into wholeness again. It is a true journey of the soul, revealed in an entertaining tale.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado
Title: Assorted Flavours: A Collection of Lesbian Short Stories Author: Lois Cloarec Hart
Publisher: P.D. Publishing Inc., www.pdpublishing.com
Price: $19.99/ebook $8.99
Genre: Lesbian Fiction
Lois Cloarec Hart’s Assorted Flavours: A Collection of Lesbian Short Stories is a delightful and engaging read that illustrates the author’s talent and range. The ten stories are well written with enough variety for any reader who enjoys terrific fiction.
The fairy tale, "Rude," gives us a woman with special powers who goes a little too far with them and it backfires. The story recognizes that what one person may deem a good cause, another may not. It is truly a fairy tale with a moral, but is never preachy. "Grandmother’s Cup" is a touching story of how a mother’s and daughter’s love for each other can overcome prejudice. It is a coming out story that brings together rejection, cruelty, and finally acceptance and love. Hart, in just a few pages, makes this turnaround believable. "Walking After Midnight" includes ghosts and spirits with a setting in a cemetery that creates an eerie effect. This story has a few pleasant surprises that keep the reader totally involved. The final story, "Lion and Lamb," is exceptional, inventive, has a sensual erotic ending, and is my personal favorite. Jac and Vic, two best friends, make a bet that within a month Jac can bed Vic’s co-worker Christi, who is engaged to be married. The story takes some turns along the way. Jac wants out of the bet, but Vic won’t let her. Hart develops convincing characters and a credible plot quickly in "Lion and Lamb" to hold our attention until the final pages, which is no small feat.
Any one of these stories could be expanded into a novel. Hart gives the reader a delicious taste of her genius for telling charming stories. Each one reveals a love story wrapped with a different setting, time or plot. I highly recommend Assorted Flavours for anyone who takes pleasure in reading wonderful fiction.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman
Title: Relationships Can Be Murder
Author: Jane DiLucchio
Publisher: New Victoria
Dee DelValle once had a brief yet passionate fling with Los Angeles’ top television newscaster, Sheila Shelbourne. All things considered, it now has become Dee’s most monumental mistake. The dalliance broke up Dee’s longtime relationship with her partner Evie, confounded her closest friends, and now has placed Dee on an administrative leave from her teaching position because she is the LAPD’s prime suspect in Shelbourne’s murder. With the police department’s lead investigators, Gina Quinn and Alex Pierce, convinced of her guilt, Dee decides to enlist the aid of her three best friends, Tully, Felicia, and Jenny. Together they set about trying to clear Dee and find the real killer. Along the way, these women learn that some secrets cannot be kept buried, that friendships will be tested, and that the old cliché is true. Some things just are not what they seem, and this applies to people as well.
DiLucchio has created an intriguing and witty character in Dee DelValle, schoolteacher cum sleuth. The author has surrounded Dee with very likable and winning secondary characters as well. Tully, the extrovert of the group, approaches life with a no holds barred, in your face attitude which serves her well, except in matters of the heart. Felicia is an interesting character in that she connects the various suspects through her job at the television studio. Finally, there is Jenny, herself not above suspicion in the investigation. Jenny too has secrets known only to a few, but damning nonetheless. It is this coterie of friends which enables Dee to pursue every avenue in her attempt at clearing her name and getting her life back on track. Each character highlights disparate facets of Dee’s personality, and DiLucchio writes humorously, and at times, poignantly to portray this aspect of her characterization.
Plotting and logical progression of events are key elements of any good novel, but they are especially important in the construction of a mystery genre work. DiLucchio has mastered both here. The suspension of disbelief is present and never falters; its reading flows in a most realistic manner. There are the various red herrings and expected twists and turns. However, DiLucchio’s style of writing has such an ease and naturalness, and this definitely keeps the reader challenged, entertained, and completely engaged. The Prelude of the book is definitely an attention-grabber; yet it manages to convey through adept irony the overall tone one can expect to encounter in this novel. “The disarray would normally have perturbed the woman greatly. In fact, she would have been extremely uncomfortable to have anyone see the condo, or herself, in this condition. However, a deep concave dent on the back of her head had ended all her mundane concerns of embarrassment” (page 5).
Relationships Can Be Murder is an exemplary and captivating debut novel. It is written with such care for detail of character and plausibility of situation that one can both identify and empathize fully with its protagonist. DiLucchio successfully manages to avoid the pitfalls of so many formulaic mysteries which seem to flood the bookshelves these days. Forthright and endearing main characters, the allusion to violence, which often times is substantially more chilling, and the witty and wry dialogues all contribute to a genuinely rewarding reading experience. This reviewer eagerly awaits Jane DiLucchio’s next novel. Whether it is a sequel or something entirely different, DiLucchio’s dynamic and ebullient style is well worth the wait.
Reviewed by Arlene Germain
||Title: Erotic Interludes 2: Stolen Moments
Edited by Stacia Seaman and Radclyffe
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Available From: StarCrossed Productions, www.SCP-inc.biz; and Bella Books, www.bellabooks.com
Erotic Interludes 2: Stolen Moments is an anthology of over thirty stories written by a vastly diverse group of women ranging from the novice writer to the established author. These stories revolve around a central theme, seizing that erotic stolen moment between women. As Radclyffe states in her Introduction, “Merely attempting to define the term ‘erotic’ usually leads to considerable debate. What may be erotic to one person may not be to another” (p.1). As this reviewer is in complete agreement with the latter statement, I will limit my literary critique to three stories which, for me, clearly stand apart from the rest and demonstrate the adroitly proficient skills of artful composition.
"Ride" by J.C. Chen is barely four pages in length, but Chen has captured the very essence of the stolen moment. Her stylistically compressed writing relies upon and owes its success to two key elements—setting and imagery. The evocative description of a New Jersey bar’s patrons is an example of superior writing. “It’s predominantly a bridge-and-tunnel clientele, but the kind of B&T that can’t quite get their acts together to actually make it over the bridges or through the tunnels to Manhattan, where the real action lies” (p.129). The reader recognizes this mundane microcosm of lack of fulfillment. The blaring repetition of a Springsteen song and the shabby felt on the lone pool table contribute to this sensory banality of most bars as the hours wear on. Chen has selected the exact word, composed the specific phrase, and created those memorable sentences with a virtually minimalist technique which crystallizes that fusion of connecting and scoring, of consensual longing and gratification. What distinguishes “Ride” from so many other attempts at erotic storytelling is the subtlety of the literary expression of the experience. Give special attention to Chen’s last sentence for it is especially memorable in its ironic and wry finality. This story is an absolute gem!
“Sales Call” by Georgia Beers is an outstanding example of how a particularly consistent point of view is so intrinsically related to a reader’s enjoyment of a story. This reviewer’s immediate identification with Jamie vividly sets the scene for the inevitable sexual encounter. However, Beers has gone to great lengths to tease, torment, and titillate Jamie. Most readers will empathize with Jamie, her reactions, and her confusion. Beers has created a mood of haven’t we all been there at one time? When it comes to instant attraction yet delayed consummation, the author has provided just enough back story to establish Jamie’s as yet unrequited desire. The fact that Michelle, the client, assumes the dominant role contributes to the vulnerability and passion experienced by Jamie and the reader. “Sales Call” is an artfully well-developed and credible vignette. So often there is a fantasy aspect to erotica, but this reviewer prefers a kind of reality wherein the story could happen to anyone in similar circumstances. Beers delivers that expectation in a delightfully satisfying manner.
Radclyffe’s “Standing Room Only” is an adept example of how an author is able to take command of the page by carefully developing a sequential storyline and driving it to a plausibly gratifying crescendo. The fluid ease of expression is a Radclyffe trademark, as is crisply nuanced dialogue which rings true with each telling. “If you can find something to smile about today,” a molasses-thick voice drawled, “you simply must share” (p. 195). That is a definite come-on, but what a lovely way to say it. With “Standing Room Only” Radclyffe manages to create a snapshot of an experience; the reader is instantly engaged and the suspension of disbelief is immediately established. Her style of erotic composition appeals to this reader because this author does not settle for the nuts and bolts depiction of sexual activity, never utilizes the repetitive and unimaginative cataloguing of sexual words, and eschews the amateurish construction of sexy prose. For this reviewer, “Standing Room Only” is both a stimulating and arousing read; it is also a perfect example of intelligent and sensual erotica.
Erotic Interludes 2: Stolen Moments is well worth the time to read, enjoy, and savor. There is enough variety here to satisfy most readers’ expectations. Also worthy of mention are Sylvie Avante’s “Tour Guide,” KI Thompson’s “The Blue Line,” and Ronica Black’s “Ache.” The scope and breadth of this erotica collection will afford the reader many avenues to explore until she finds her own personal gem.
Reviewed by Arlene Germain
Back to JAW.
Bios of Authors
Sandra Barret grew up in New England, where she spent
more years than she cares to mention as a software
programmer. She lives with her partner, two children,
and a menagerie of pets. Sandra has been an avid
reader of fantasy, horror, and lesbian romance. This
interest has led her to pen her own creations in novel
and short story format.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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: http://www.annafurtado.com
Contact her at email@example.com.
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
Gay Writer, the Just About Write
Newsletter/E-zine, The Crown—the Golden Crown Literary Society newsletter, and The OutlookPress.com.
Arlene is also a fiction editor. Contact her at
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 Amazon.com, libertas.com, and The Independent Gay Writer. You can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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 email@example.com.
Born in 1965, Robin Alexander grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she still resides. An avid reader of Lesbian fiction, Robin decided to take the leap and try her hand at writing, which is now her favorite hobby. Other favorites are camping, snorkeling, and anything to do with the outdoors or the water. Robin approaches everything with a sense of humor, which is evident in her style of writing.
Lynn Ames is the best-selling author of The Price of Fame (which was short-listed for the first annual Golden Crown Literary Society award in the category of lesbian romance), The Cost of Commitment, and The Value of Valor. She is also a contributing author to Infinite Pleasures: An Anthology of Lesbian Erotica, Telltale Kisses, Stolen Moments: Erotic Interludes 2, and Call of the Dark: Erotic Lesbian Tales of the Supernatural.
Lynn is a former press secretary to the New York state Senate Minority Leader. For more than half a decade, she was also an award winning broadcast journalist. These days she is a nationally recognized speaker and public relations professional with a particular expertise in image, crisis communications planning, and crisis management.
Lynn resides in the southwestern U.S. with her favorite guys (relax, they’re dogs): a golden retriever named Alex, who bears a remarkable resemblance to a character in her books, and Parker, another golden and the newest addition to the family.
For additional information, short stories, etc., please visit her website at www.lynnames.com, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maureen Brady is the author of the novels Ginger's Fire, Folly, and Give Me Your Good Ear, the short stories, The Question She Put to Herself, and three books of nonfiction. Her recent work has appeared in Cabbage and Bones: Irish American Women's Fiction, Mom, In the Family and Intersections: An Anthology of Banff Writers. She teaches creative writing at New York University and The New York Writers Workshop at The Jewish Community Center of Manhattan. She currently serves as Board President of The Money for Women: Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and was a co-founder of Spinsters Ink and The New York Writers Workshop. She lives in New York City and the Catskills and is currently at work on a memoir.
Carrie Brennan, known online as Zuke, began writing TV scripts
when she was eight, and forced her friends to act them
out during recess. She currently resides in the San
Francisco Bay Area with a husband and a cat, who are
both spoiled rotten.
Val Brown and
Val Brown is the real name of well-known online author Cephalgia.
An Airforce brat, Val grew up in a tightly-knit family that supported her in her efforts to become a nurse, which led to her traveling the length and breadth of the country.
In 2001, Val was lucky enough to become friends and then co-writers with the very talented MJ Walker. They posted their first novel length story, Connecting Hearts, on the Internet in 2002. More co-written novels and short stories followed, many of which found their way into print.
With the encouragement of her family and friends, Val continues to write while working as a Telemetry Unit nurse in a northern California hospital and a clinical nursing instructor at the local community college.
This year, another of Val's dreams came true when Blue Feather Books published Pearl Had to Die, her first solo effort. She is grateful for her friends' love, her readers' support and her publisher's indulgence.
MJ Walker lives in a small, rural village in England. She was first published as a poet in the United States at age seventeen, and her work later appeared in many anthologies in her native country.
She is a part-time numismatist and is currently studying journalism.
Through her offerings on the web, MJ met and teamed up with Val Brown, an American nurse.
Jane DiLucchio is a professor at a community college and a former elementary schoolteacher. She enjoys reading, food, friends, card games. She lives in southern California with her partner Jane and two pets.
Lois Cloarec Hart
Born in 1956 in British Columbia, Canada, Lois Cloarec Hart grew up as an avid reader, but didn't begin writing novels until later in life. Several years after joining the Canadian Armed Forces, she received a degree in Honours History from Royal Military College, and on graduation switched occupations from air traffic control to military intelligence. Having married a CAF fighter pilot while in college, she went on to spend five years as an Intelligence Officer before leaving the military to care for her husband, who was ill with chronic progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
Lois' first book, Coming Home, was a fictionalized version of her life with her late husband. Initially her writing was a therapeutic exercise to deal with the difficulties of caring for a quadriplegic, bed-ridden loved one. She wrote by his bedside, whether he was at home or in the hospital, and says, "The story was never intended for anyone's view except my writing mentor who had encouraged me to begin in the first place. After a year's work on it, however, I decided to risk putting it out there for others to read. It came as something of a delightful surprise when readers related so strongly and positively to my first story, and that feedback encouraged me to continue writing. My husband lived long enough to see the first book come out with his picture on the cover, but passed away before the second book was published."
Since the death of her husband, Lois and her partner of three years have commuted between Calgary, Alberta, and Atlanta, Georgia.
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.
Rad 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.
Cynthia Tyler was born and raised in Southern California where she earned a master’s degree in psychology. Besides writing, her interests include progressive politics, music, and hiking in Joshua Tree National Park. She lives in Pasadena, California with her partner of twelve years and a wiggly Collie/Golden Retriever mix. Descanso is her first novel. She recently completed the sequel.