November 2007
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Title: Aspen's Embers
Author: Diana Tremain Braund
ISBN: 978-1-59493-102-4
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,, and
Price: $14.95 Pages: 323
Genre: Romance

In this time when one of the most discussed topics is global warming, Diana Tremain Braund has set her new book Aspen's Embers in the middle of one of the longest ongoing debates about conservation. How do you balance the needs of people with the need to preserve forest land?

Codyville Plantation is a small town in Maine that has depended on the work provided by the local lumbering company to sustain the town's life. Aspen Brown has lived there all her life and feels that she has a special relationship with the trees. Whenever she feels stressed, she retreats to the forest and climbs a tree until the world rights itself again. As a teacher at the high school, she tries to share that love with her students and she's very active in the local environmental group that is trying to prevent any more logging in the forest.

When Leigh Wright shows up as the new agent for the company, everyone is suspicious as to what her motives are and Leigh and Aspen are both thrown out of balance when they realize that they are tremendously attracted to each other. The relationship doesn't improve when Leigh discovers that the company plans to stop lumbering, cut down large quantities of the trees and build an expensive community on the land. Codyville is torn between the citizens who see this as a chance for the town to be rejuvenated with jobs and development and those who want to preserve the way of life they've always had. Leigh is torn herself between her belief in conservation and facing the fact that, by staying with the company, she might be able to influence how the company's plans are implemented.

And then there's the potential damage to her relationship with Aspen who has become a leader in the movement to stop the company. While the town and the women are struggling to find a solution to the situation, a radical professor at a nearby college takes matters into her own hands and violence strikes the town. Finally, Aspen and Leigh find themselves fighting not only for the woods, but for their future together.

Braund has managed to take a very topical concept and weave it with a romance to produce a realistic story with believable characters. The arguments between the company and the conservationists could come off of the front pages of most newspapers. The stress of preserving small town life against encroaching suburbia is one familiar in many communities. This isn't a political novel. Braund does a good job of presenting both sides of every issue without taking a side and maintains the integrity of the story while she is doing so. The way the romance develops is also true to life. It's not a foregone conclusion that these two women will find a way to stay together through their differences and the relationship does not develop without problems. In the end, the good guys win, sort of, but not totally and that is true to life also. If you enjoy romance that comes with a message, this is the book for you.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Aspen's Embers
Author: Diana Tremain Braund
ISBN: 978-1-59493-102-4
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,, and
Price: $14.95 Pages: 323
Genre: Romance





Aspen's Embers beautifully portrays the struggle between environmentalists and developers. It's protagonists, Aspen Brown, a teacher and environmentalist and Leigh Wright, a forester, find passion in each other's arms even as they seemingly stand on opposite sides of the issue. It also shows how compromise can go from being a "dirty" word to serving both sides of the debate.

Braund does a wonderful job describing small town life in Northern Maine. She shows the trees, the ocean, the closeness of the residents, as well as the poverty and empty storefronts. The peacefulness of this setting is disrupted when the lumber company which owns most of the acreage around the town proposes building homes and a country club on part of the land. The company's proposal could bring jobs and help this tiny town survive. Aspen, who is devoted to the trees, and who suffers from depression, leads the local environmentalists in protecting this tranquil setting. Leigh, who manages the company land, is caught in the middle.

Braund has given her readers another well-written book with great depth in its story line. As Aspen struggles against the miasma of depression, the reader is able to feel the emotional fog surrounding her. The fight to save trees and habitat is one in which many of us take part. Braund does a great job at showing the issues as well as the lengths to which some will go to win.
Reviewed by RLynne

Title: Away From The Dawn
Author: Kate Sweeney
ISBN: 978-1-933113-81-4
Publisher: Intaglio Publications
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $15.95
Pages: 249
Genre: Vampire/Lesbian

"We are vampires, we feed off of them. We do not live among them." (p. 104)

A vampire who is trying to defy that statement is why Kate Sweeney has put aside her Kate Ryan mysteries temporarily to present Away From the Dawn, a story that is quite entertaining. Those who are not normally drawn to the paranormal genre, especially vampire stories, might find this book to their liking because it's also a nice romance.

Sebastian has wandered the world for five hundred years since she was "sired" by the oldest of the vampires Tatiana and though she is one of the strongest of her kind and destined to be their leader, she would reject that position for an opportunity to walk in the sun again and live among humans. Sebastian remembers what it was like to be human and that is her strength, and weakness, depending on who you talk to. For many years she has used her fortune to fund the research at the Windham Institute, protecting its leaders, and hoping for a serum that will allow her to expose herself to sunlight.

So far the research has failed, but the arrival of the brilliant Dr. Alex Taylor to join the staff holds promise that a breakthrough can be made. Alex isn't aware of what she's getting herself into when she accepts the position, but she's already met Sebastian and finds her alluring and fascinating. By the time Alex discovers the truth of who Sebastian is, she is already in love with her, so she can't do anything but try to help her.

Unfortunately, other members of the vampire community are not supportive of Sebastian's efforts and have sent an old friend, Leigh, to convince her to give up her quest. Leigh brings with her a total disregard for humans, except as sex partners and then meals, and a crime wave of brutalized murder victims hits the city.

If she can't get Sebastian to cease her efforts and return to take her place in the hierarchy, then Leigh has orders to destroy her. Sebastian finds herself surrounded by competing forces – the police detective who suspects she is connected to the murders, Leigh and her uncontrollable and possibly dangerous behavior, the pull to fulfill her destiny, and the most overpowering distraction, her attraction to Alex. In the race between them, there is no guarantee which one will win.

Normally, a vampire story would not rank highly in my choice of books to read; however, this story was very enjoyable. This is probably because the characters of Sebastian and Alex are appealing and believable. Well, except that Sebastian can leap buildings and has a hobby of attacking criminals and feeding on them. Beyond that, you care about these two. You feel the anguish that Sebastian experiences over her past life and root for her to find a way to escape it. Alex is particularly appealing and acts as the conduit for Sweeney' sense of humor when, in an effort to save Sebastian, she says to her "Bite me." You'll have to read the book to find out why this is necessary.

Devotees of vampire literature might argue that Sebastian is too human to be a good vampire, but there are plenty of those in the book to please them. Also, Alex probably should have more trouble dealing with Sebastian's condition when she discovers it because most people would be pretty upset to learn they are in love with the undead. It's already clear in the story though that she's pretty unflappable, so it's a minor point. The important thing is that the reader cares about what happens to these two and it makes the rest of the story work.

Away From the Dawn is a good choice for those who don't normally read stories about the supernatural or paranormal and can be a satisfying story for those who love the genre. It has romance, tension, hot sex and drama. Give it a try.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Bleeding Hearts
Author: Lindy Cameron
ISBN: 9781932859164
Publisher: Bywater Books
Available From: Bywater Books,
Price: $13.95
Pages: 391
Genre: Mystery

Lindy Cameron is emerging as one of the most enjoyable mystery writers in the genre. Her characters are well developed and funny, while her plots are intricate. Though you may have suspicions about "who done it," they won't be confirmed until the end of the book and then you'll probably be wrong. In the meantime you'll have quite a romp with Kit O'Malley and her collection of friends.

In Bleeding Hearts, Kit is surrounded by more mysteries than she almost knows how to deal with. Rebecca Jones, the beautiful and very popular host of a television show, is receiving threatening messages and hires Kit to find out who is sending them. This won't be easy since Rebecca's partner, Sally, seems to think half of the time that Kit is making a play to get close to Rebecca. Then the sexy Alex Casenove walks back into Kit's life bringing the promise of a relationship and a case with her.

Someone is harassing some of the candidates in an upcoming election by leaving huge deposits of manure on their front lawns. The question is, why? In the process of trying to find that perpetrator, Kit finds herself involved with another case of a missing woman and her unusual family. Floating around the periphery of these cases is one that her old police partner is involved with where he's trying to catch a vicious serial killer who leaves the women he's murdered wrapped in bubble wrap in abandoned houses.

Political scandal, embezzlement, blackmail, murder, sleazy politicians, unfulfilled sexual fantasies and romantic matchmaking are just some of the issues that Kit has to wade through to try to solve the various cases. What begins to creep her out though is that somehow these cases might be connected. What keeps her going is the blossoming relationship with Alex that keeps Kit as unsteady on her feet as the people do who keep whacking her on the head.

Cameron writes mysteries that are serious in their creation, but spiked with tremendous amounts of humor and wit. Kit has to be one of the clumsiest and, at times, tuned out detectives around. Part of her distraction has to be attributed to the friends she surrounds herself with. Del and Brigit are a solid couple and Kit's best friends. They try to watch out for her when she'll let them and the reader has to develop an appreciation for the stability Del represents when it comes to Kit and her partner. Brigit provides much of the comic relief as she dances, sings and karate chops her way through the situations. Lillian, Kit's zany mother, floats in and out not really understanding anything that is going on in her daughter's life, but loving her nonetheless. Hector, the computer guru, seems to think he's living in a bad 1950's style crime story and Erin is the crusading newspaper reporter who knows the dirt on everyone. Usually one or more of these "assistants" wants to tag along with Kit on her investigations, where they often don't help much, but at least she doesn't get hurt…usually. Rounding out her life is the beautiful Alex, who turns Kit to mush with just a look, and Thistle, the attack commando cat that speaks a language Kit actually seems to understand.

Bleeding Hearts is a series of engrossing mysteries told with a light tone and plenty of unexpected one-liners. The crimes will challenge your intellect while Kit and her friends keep you chuckling. This is a terrific and entertaining book to read.
Review by Lynne Pierce

Title: Dark Valentine
Author: Jennifer Fulton
ISBN10: 1-933110-79-0
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc.,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and
Price: $15.95 Pages: 224
Genre: Lesbian Romance

I have read all of Jennifer Fulton’s published books under her various pen names, and her storytelling has gotten so much richer in the last few years. Her most recent release, Dark Valentine, is no exception. Fulton has written a solid, believable, and erotic romance.

Fulton’s stories usually carry subtle social messages that are largely ignored by the mainstream. She combines these nicely, respecting the reader will “get” it without being bashed over the head. Dark Valentine focuses on the issue of stalking. The main character, Rhianna Lamb, has to bury her identity and live under the radar to escape her stalker. The book illustrates succinctly how stalking can rob a woman of everything and forces the victim to live in fear of being discovered. Fulton also delves into how the court system doesn’t understand the dynamics of this debilitating threat.

While tackling the social message, Fulton does not cut corners on the romance. Writing about love is what this author does best. Rhianna has an accidental first meeting at a Palm Springs resort with a woman, Julia Valiant, whom she instantly falls for, but figuring out how to act upon those feelings while hiding poses a seemingly insurmountable problem. That’s the least of Rhianna’s concerns as the reader soon finds out.

This absorbing novel was read quickly, but the messages that Fulton imparted left their mark long after the book was put down. I highly recommend Dark Valentine, and also the first in the Dark Vista series, Dark Dreamer (Bold Strokes Books April 2007).
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: Fingersmith
Author: Sarah Waters
ISBN 10: 1-57322-203-8 – ISBN 13: 978-1573229722
Publisher: Riverhead Books/The Berkley Publishing Group/Division of Penguin Putnam Inc.
Available From:; libertas
Price: $15.00 Pages: 582
Genre: Lesbian Romance/Historical Fiction

For anyone who hasn’t discovered the literary genius of Sarah Waters, read Fingersmith and it won’t be long before you’ll want to devour every word the best-selling, award-winning novelist pens. My admiration goes beyond the author’s expertise in capturing the mood reminiscent of Oliver Twist. Waters' extensive research enriches the vivid setting. Her spot-on characterizations combined with a highly absorbing plot captivate both critics and readers alike. If I were to go back to Victorian England, more precisely London 1862, I bet it would look, smell, taste, and sound as Waters has deftly described it.

If I would have been asked to root for a thief, I should say not. But Susan Trinder, an orphan who through a twist of fate only knows a crooked life, is worth saving. And what of Maud Lilly? Orphaned as well, she lives a seemingly charmed, though lonely life, in a country estate of her uncle, much as a caged bird. Left in the hands of evil folk who prosper by unsavory means, can the fates of both women be spared? How much strife can a woman endure before she loses her mind, heart, and soul?

Fingersmith is the story of two young women who have nothing in common except the acquaintance of a man who goes by the name Gentleman. He’s a crook who means to ruin an heiress in order to make his fortune. As part of Gentleman’s plan to get rich quick, Susan leaves Mrs. Sucksby, the woman who raised her, and London, the only home she’s ever known. When she travels to Briar to pose as Maud’s maid, she soon discovers a connection that goes beyond the treacherous scheme that brings her and Maud together. Despite deceit, their kinship is cemented during all the time they spend in each other’s company. Their heartstrings are pulled tight with thoughts of what is to happen next. They share a love believed to be so hideous as to be shunned by society and yet through it all, the hope of good coming out of evil is the hope that has readers turning the pages.

Gentleman, a despicable yet thoroughly charming con man, evokes little or no sympathy but he’s entertaining in his cunning sort of way. Then there’s Mrs. Sucksby, a petty thief, who raises Susan as a means to an end. When Mrs. Sucksby sells the other orphaned infants but keeps Sue as her own, Waters compels us to discover the motive behind the baby farmer’s actions. Mr. Lilly, Maud’s uncle, is a depraved man who enslaves a girl for his gain. It makes us wonder how some people can have few scruples to inflict cruelty upon others.

Waters captivates her audiences through vivid imagery as each scene builds the suspenseful plot only to pull a fast one at every turn. Anyone who longs for a Victorian novel told expertly in the Dickens style, who loves surprises, who enjoys characters to sink your teeth into, and who wants to come away uplifted, would do well not to hesitate another moment. Head over to your bookshop or on-line seller and pick up a copy today. Susan and Maud will forever be in your heart. You won’t be able to put Fingersmith down. If you crave authentic historical fiction, clever plot twists, and a fine romance, I highly recommend you don’t miss this gem.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

Title: Honor Under Siege
Author: Radclyffe
ISBN10: 1-933110-80-6
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc.,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and
Price: $15.95 Pages: 282 pages
Genre: Lesbian/Intrigue/Romance

Honor Under Siege, the sixth book in Radclyffe’s Honor series, is unpredictable and explosive. Just when I started to figure out where the plot was going, Radclyffe threw in another curve, making this the most complex novel in the series and compelling this reviewer to devour the story in one sitting.

Radclyffe’s fans beg her for another sequel each time she publishes an Honor book, and she always delivers brilliantly, not an easy feat. Honor Under Siege continues to present Cam and Blair’s story in the forefront, and we learn so much from their continued character growth that we never tire of them. In this story we also get to know Valerie better and see how conflicted she is with her life, her judgments, and her past.

The series incorporates a very small window of time similar to what JD Robb does in her “Death” books and what the TV show, 24, does. Honor Under Siege occurs in one week’s time, making the action feel like real-time events and the character development concentrated. Since the first book, Above All, Honor, the series has taken some unexpected turns because it was written before 9/11. Radclyffe has integrated the present state of affairs with sensitivity, aplomb, and maturity that few authors could accomplish. As an added bonus, the reader is always treated to a romance within a Radclyffe tale. She consistently uses lovemaking to soothe the tensions of the day and help each character connect deeply to one another, thus giving the reader several romantic stories that complement the intrigue. The interplay of the subplots demonstrates a very powerful side of love, and the characters become more alive to us.

I like this series more and more with each new novel. The stories are innovative, and it is evident how hard Radclyffe works to bring us an unconventional action-packed romance each time. The telling is well thought out and makes us anxious to know the outcome. I can’t wait for the next Honor book.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: Iridescence
Author: Edited by Jolie du Pré
ISBN: 1593500041
Publisher: Alyson Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and
Price: $14.95 Pages: 240
Genre: Lesbian Erotica anthology

Every year readers are bombarded with numerous erotica anthologies to choose from. The challenge is finding one that is different from the rest and with stories that don’t have familiar themes visited in previous books. In Iridescence, edited by Jolie du Pré, the stories break that pattern and provide us with a culturally diverse, very sexy collection. As du Pré states in her introduction, “…lesbian sex isn’t just for white folks and not all lesbians are white…” Iridescence has more going for it than its inclusion of cultural and racial minorities. It embraces an assortment of story types and styles recognizing that erotica is very individual and personal to the reader.

Inside this 23-story anthology, du Pré has included some well known authors such as Fiona Zedde and Rachel Kramer Bussel, and some lesser known authors like Winnie Jerome and Nan Andrews. The common thread is that all are well-written; there are no repetitive themes, and they are complete short stories not just scenes. Concise editing is evident throughout. Du Pré sets a purposeful rhythm by choosing the particular placement of each selection within the collection. It is smart and adds to the splendor of Iridescence, making the sum greater than its parts.

Iridescence persuasively yet subtlely reminds us that, while we are part of a larger community, there should be room for the smaller, less visible groups that exist within. It is a collection that truly captures the rainbow our flag represents. Kudos to du Pré for her imagination and daring in producing this fine book.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: Nina in the Wilderness
Author: Sarah Aldridge
ISBN: 978-0964664845
Publisher: A&M Books (originally from Naiad)
Distributed by A&M Books (
Price: $12.00
Pages: 326
Genre: Fiction/Lesbian

Nina in the Wilderness is an absorbing tale by Sarah Aldridge. The character of Nina harkens back to Aldridge’s earlier work entitled Tottie. Nina is otherworldly, young, and unable to cope with her surroundings, as was the character, Tottie. As the story unfolds, Nina is taken in by Annie Trewarden, the daughter of a poet with unlikely ties to Nina’s family.

Nina finds it difficult to function in the world after the trauma of a plane crash in the Amazon jungle where both her parents were killed. Upon meeting Nina, Annie feels both an attraction and an inexplicable responsibility toward this young woman. As the plot thickens, she finds out that Nina has fragile ties to Annie’s father, a fading poet whose bright star is about to go supernova with a fourth Pulitzer Prize to be awarded to him. But rumors abound as to whether or not the prize is actually deserved, or whether or not Gerald Trewarden is a plagiarist—and Nina may hold the key to the answer. However, in order to find out, Annie and a friend must first find Nina’s poet aunt’s missing personal papers.

Does Nina have information that will help unlock the secret of her aunt’s documents? And will she be able to reveal the information if she has it? These are questions that Annie must ask. But she must also be careful not to traumatize Nina any more than she already is. In the end, it is Annie who must confront her father and try to gain Nina’s autonomy—Annie, who has tried to separate herself from the man as much as possible during her life. Whether or not she can be strong enough to face this man will show Annie just how much she is willing to do for Nina.

This is the thirteenth Aldridge novel and it takes us into the literary world through the lives of two very different poets, one driven by ambition, the other writing for the love of poetry itself. Although there are character similarities between Nina and Tottie, there is a vastly different level of maturity in the story that Aldridge gives us in Nina in the Wilderness, which speaks to her evolution as a writer. The characters are more complete than in some of her earlier works and Aldridge ties up loose ends more cleanly and succinctly. Nina in the Wilderness is another of the Aldridge classics that a discerning reader will want to consider for her library.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Not Single Enough
Author: Grace Lennox
ISBN: 1-933110-85-6
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and
Price: $15.95 Pages: 212 pages
Genre: Romance

Giselle Trulove is having a rough life. Her girlfriend, who is also her boss, has dropped her to date a man in their office and when Giselle tells her, in colorful language, what she thinks of the situation, she loses her job. Her mother, who has acquired great wealth by marrying up several times, is more concerned with her new engagement to a Fabio look-alike than with Giselle's issues and thinks that the solution to all things is to just write a big check. The fact that Giselle never cashes the checks doesn't seem to register with her.

On the way home, Giselle finds a baby that has been discarded in a dumpster and thinks, temporarily, she has found a purpose to her life, until her best friend Sandy convinces her that she will go to prison for kidnapping. Sandy arranges for Giselle to turn the baby over to Dale Porter, a friend who is a homicide detective, and Giselle's life begins to turn around. The women are instantly in love, or lust, or there is some sort of attraction. Dale doesn't think she wants to be in a relationship, but she can't resist Giselle.

As Giselle and Dale begin to form a partnership, Giselle also embarks on a career as an artist and meets someone who could threaten their plans. Francesca is a wealthy closeted art patron who makes no attempt to hide the fact that she would like Giselle for herself. Should Dale fight for her or let her go to Francesca who can provide her with many more opportunities to develop her art?

Giselle starts out as an interesting character in a pathetic sort of way. She's funny as she tells about her breakup with her ex-lover and sympathetic as she deals with her deleterious mother and then tries to correct the downward spiral of her life when she finds the baby. The problem is that, once she meets Dale, she ceases to be attractive. She becomes a character who is plodding through the book with very little motivation except to find something that makes her significant. That can be a career in art or a partnership with Dale.

Dale is even more perplexing. She's adamant that she doesn't want a relationship with anyone, takes one look at Giselle and changes her plans entirely. It's never really clear what these two see in each other, except that the sex is plentiful and steamy. The relevance of the title to the book is a total mystery since both characters are single, but don't want to be apparently. No one in the book is trying to be single, so the title seems irrelevant.

Jennifer Fulton has established herself as a master craftsman in the romance genre and then in the mystery genre with her Rose Beecham books. The purpose of the Grace Lennox books isn't clear yet. They seem to be edgier and a little more trendy, but the characterizations aren't as well developed. Hopefully, this will work itself out as Fulton becomes more comfortable with this new persona. Not Single Enough isn't a bad book. It's just not her best.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Passionate Kisses
Author: Megan Carter
ISBN: 978-1594930515
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and
Price: $13.95 Pages: 231
Genre: Romance/Lesbian

Passionate Kisses is not your typical love triangle. Sara, Taylor and James, friends since pre-school, have been practically inseparable for most of their lives. However, now that Sara and James are about to be married, Taylor (who came out at the age of fourteen) is the “odd-girl-out” and is trying to deal with the changing nature of the bond with her friends by moving from one relationship to another.

As Sara and James plan the final stages of their wedding, the couple realizes that things are not as perfect as they should be. When reality hits them head-on, all three friends must face their own true selves and decide what their lives must be like from now on. As each person in the trio struggles to come to terms with who they are and what they want out of life, there is only one thing to root for—that love will triumph for each of them.

Carter weaves an interesting subplot into the story, centered on a ranch owned by two older lesbians, life partners and wonderful role models for the younger women in the story. A tale of the Old West involving the ranch has twists and turns, with rumors of buried treasure and people who are quite different from conventional history. In the end, it falls to Sara to find a way to protect the women and their land from the exploits of gold-diggers while juggling the turmoil in her own life.

The discomfort between James and Sara is well portrayed to make us wonder from the start if the two are really meant to be together. James’ revelation to Sara seems a little abrupt, but it doesn’t impede the rest of the story. The characters are well drawn and the story makes Passionate Kisses as an entertaining read.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Revelations
Author: Erin O'Reilly
ISBN: 978-1-933113-75-3
Publisher: Intaglio Publications
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $16.95 Pages: 214
Genre: Romantic suspense

(This book was previously published as Emma's Journey.)

Revelations is about how people can change their lives, no matter what they have been before. This applies not only to the title character, Emma Sanders, but to the woman who comes into her life, Cay O'Neill.

Emma's life has been unfortunate from an early age. A tragic fire killed most of her family and left her mother damaged in body and spirit. Emma is raised in a world of seclusion and fear, devoid of most modern conveniences, by a woman who mentally and emotionally abuses her. Now that her mother is dead, she lives by herself, apparently afraid of everything and everyone, and generally is perceived by the people in the nearby town as a nice, but very strange woman.

Then Cay O'Neill enters her life. Cay rises out of the lake one day at the end of Emma's pier and turns her world upside down. Emma thinks Cay is a writer who has come to the area to have time to finish a book and seems intent on befriending the reclusive woman who sees no reason why she needs a friend. In reality, Cay has been hired by someone who has a grudge against Emma and she is supposed to get close to Emma so that she can turn her over to him for his act of revenge. It isn't long before Cay realizes that she can't do that because she is very fond of the withdrawn woman and feels protective towards her, but finding a way out of the situation that won't cost both women their lives seems impossible. When the confrontation finally comes, it will be Emma who shows the surprising strength and knowledge of the world that may save them and open a new existence to them both.

The fact that the book was originally called Emma's Journey is odd because both of the women in this book have a journey to make. Emma has to overcome psychological abuse and learn to live in a world with much more complexity than she was raised in, none of which is easy for her considering her past. Cay has an equal journey to make though. She has to reach past her experience and discover what it means to live a life that is decent, where she does what is right even though it may cost her money and her own safety. Each of these women is moving towards a point of new freedom and the fact that they can make the trip together strengthens them both.

The characters and events in this book are well developed. Cay may decide to reject her original mission a little quickly, but it doesn't happen so fast that it detracts from the story. The best part of the story however is when Emma provides a surprising twist and moves dramatically from what, until that moment, had been a clueless victim to the character who immediately understands that what might be considered an insane act could be the solution to both of their problems. Whereas that scene might be considered artificial in another book, it makes perfect sense in this one.

This isn't a simple story of women meeting, developing a relationship and going off together, although it might seem like that at first. Instead, it's an almost delicious story about role reversal and how using the perception that society holds about you can have a very satisfying and surprising outcome. This book just may leave you reconsidering how you view that strange lady who lives down the road.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Sheridan’s Fate
Author: Gun Brooke
ISBN10: 1-933110-88-0 - ISBN13: 978-1-933110-88-2
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,, and Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 Pages: 264
Genre: Romance

Set in San Antonio, Texas, Sheridan's Fate brilliantly describes one woman's fight to regain control of her body and her life, after a life-threatening illness. Sheridan Ward is head of San Antonio's largest business conglomerate, Ward Industries. She is used to controlling everything and everyone in her life. Now, an illness has left her confined to a wheelchair, and it is dubious that she will ever regain control of her legs. Sheridan has fired one physical therapist after the other. Now, Lark Mitchell has reluctantly agreed to work with her.

Lark is determined to help Sheridan regain every ounce of independence that she can. Independence means Sheridan must learn to dress herself, move from the wheel chair to her bed, practice walking, to swim, and to do many other things. It also means that Sheridan must stretch her personal limits, and she must trust Lark.

Both Lark and Sheridan are wonderfully attractive, charismatic characters. As they work together, they are drawn toward each other in ways that challenge all of Lark's personal ethics. Sheridan's fire and Lark's warm embers are enough to make this book sizzle.

Brooke, however, has gone beyond the wonderful emotional exploration of these characters to tell the story of those who, for various reasons, become differently abled. Whether it is a bullet, an illness, or a problem at birth, many women and men find themselves in Sheridan's situation. Her courage and Lark's gentleness and determination send this romance into a "must read."
Reviewed by RLynne

Title: Spider Song
Author: Susan Alexander
ISBN: 1587217341
Publisher: 1stBooks (Author House)
Available From: Author House
Price: $21.79
Pages: 360
Genre: Mystery

Joanna Bryce is a very closeted professor at a very conservative college and is having an affair with an even more closeted professor, Carol Davis. All of that begins to unravel the day Joanna walks in and finds Carol having sex with another female professor. While Joanna is trying to decide whether or not to salvage the relationship, Carol is found murdered in Joanna's apartment, and despite the fact that Joanna was out of town, it soon becomes clear that the police consider her a major suspect.

Joanna's life falls apart as she's put on paid leave by the university, not only for being a murder suspect, but a lesbian murder suspect; a promising new relationship with another woman is in danger of collapsing over the turmoil surrounding Joanna; her nerves fray after the buffeting from dealing with doubting family members, colleagues and friends; and the police refuse to clear her name even though they are having doubts about her guilt.

Joanna and her friends realize that they don't just have to clear Joanna, but need to find the killer, especially when it turns out the person may still be stalking Joanna. A set up to catch the killer nearly costs Joanna her life when she learns that people she thought she knew very well she may not have known at all.

Spider Song is a well-crafted mystery. The story moves at just the right pace to allow excellent character development and to let the events slowly unfold. The relationship between Joanna and Carol is revealed in such a manner before the murder to explain why Joanna might have had grounds to commit the crime if she had wanted to. The reaction of her friends and family ring true also. One very close friend nearly ruins their relationship when she has to ask Joanna if she is guilty of the crime. Joanna struggles to understand how someone who supposedly sees her as an almost family member could ask that question, but it really does seem the most natural thing to do in the circumstances.

Dina Miller is totally believable as the young woman who is drawn to Joanna, but isn't really sure that she wants to complicate her life with the mess that is swirling about the other woman. There is also an interesting relationship that develops between Joanna and one of her students who is the other major suspect for the crime. Together they show the frustration and sense of isolation that grow around people who are suspected of crimes, but can't be charged or exonerated.

The appealing part about this book is the fact that it remains a mystery until the end. The story evolves with increasing complexity and the twists keep you trying to figure out just who did this. There are parts of the story when the reader will almost believe that Joanna must have done the murder even when you're being pointed in another direction. At the end, the twist is one that you realize you should have seen coming, but you didn't. This is a book that just keeps pulling you in. Mystery lovers will like it.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: The Swashbuckler (second printing, 1988)
Author: Lee Lynch
ISBN: 0-930044-66-5
Publisher: The Naiad Press, Inc.
Available from:
Price: All books ordered through are $8.00 including postage.
Pages: 279
Genre: Romance

The Swashbuckler, by Lee Lynch, who is a 2007 Alice B. Reader's Medal recipient and 2006 Saints & Sinners Literary Hall of Fame inductee, is profoundly inspiring on many levels. Lynch captures the mood of the New York City gay movement, most notably, lesbian culture between 1960 and 1972, and shows how intolerance affects us all. In a homophobic world, the peer pressure to conform, even in non-conformity, is a small price to pay for the support and acceptance of your friends, who often become your family of choice.

The story begins in pre-Stonewall Greenwich Village when the climate for gays and lesbians is oppressive. Same-sex partners could be arrested for openly expressing their love. Our heroine, Frenchy Tonneau, is twenty-one, good-looking and 100% prime butch, and she loves that side of herself right down to her diddy-bop walk even though she knows it angers straight people. There are two Frenchys—during the week she’s the closeted, dutiful daughter and reliable cashier at a supermarket checkout in the Bronx, and on Saturday nights, she emerges, dressed to break hearts, as the chick magnet to every femme she can get her hands on. Just thinking about commitment makes the swashbuckler itchy.

Frenchy has no intention of settling down, but she doesn’t count on meeting the Jewish teacher, Edie, from Queens, or the Puerto Rican temptress, Mercedes, from El Barrio, or even the Jewish bohemian princess, Pam. She wonders why she’s always falling for Jewish or Puerto Rican girls, but more importantly, how they succeed in chipping away at her tough butch exterior and rocking her world. Can stone turn to sand? Can a swashbuckler settle down and be happy with one woman? Will Frenchy accept her transformation and find true love and ultimate happiness?

With women loving women across races and religions, what could be better than when love wins out over cultural differences? During her first trip to Provincetown, Frenchy meets Mercedes, a pretty Spanish chick with a butch swagger and a few skeletons in her closet. At first sight, Frenchy is intrigued but can’t figure out if Mercedes is butch or femme, and it matters. Can two butches fall in love? Taking this journey with Frenchy and Mercedes is a truly far-out and groovy trip you won’t want to miss. The Swashbuckler is an affirming romance where you hope that everyone, butch, femme, black, white, Christian, Jewish, Hispanic, gay, straight, etc., comes to her own truth in her own time and before it’s too late.

At a time when the bar culture was very much into roles and most women were pressured to choose either butch or femme, it was a put-down to be called Kiki, which according to, is a term that was used in the lesbian bar culture of the 1950s and 1960s to describe someone who was neither butch nor femme or both. The Swashbuckler follows the growth of two admirable women, in an ever-changing environment, who must overcome societal and personal obstacles in order to live true to their natures and conform to their own norms.

Pioneer and celebrated author Lee Lynch finely weaves social commentary throughout the compelling story in a way that informs yet doesn’t preach or weigh down the plot. The Swashbuckler is a classic romance reminiscent of Ann Bannon’s work but with a much happier ending. The climate made it easier to publish lesbian love with positive outcomes in 1985 than during the 50s and 60s. The Swashbuckler also celebrates the differences among us based on race, religion, and education level and explores how much better life would be if bigotry were abolished.

I give The Swashbuckler two thumbs up. It should be required reading regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, gender or age. Lynch’s story reaffirms our faith in love as defined by two people who give every part of themselves to each other. The Swashbuckler allows an intimate glimpse of two incredibly courageous young women. Their growth feeds our growth. Baby boomers will reminisce and younger women will see where they came from. I cannot rate or recommend this book more highly. The Swashbuckler is a five-star read.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

Title: When Dreams Tremble
Author: Radclyffe
ISBN: 978-1933110646
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,, and Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 Pages: 262
Genre: Romance/Lesbian

Radclyffe just keeps giving us one tension-filled, yet lovely, romance after another, and When Dreams Tremble does not disappoint. Leslie Harris fled her upstate New York home in an effort to run—from her own feelings for—and the pain she had a part in inflicting on—Devon Webber. Having created a whole new life for herself, Leslie comes home to visit her parents at their lakeside resort and discovers that Dev is in residence doing aquatic research at the lake. Finding Dev doing this type of work is amazing in itself because she was the nonconformist bad-girl who seemed destined to have no real future. Now, her work as a research scientist is in conflict with Les’ corporate stance to protect big business from government demands on environmental protection.

Their reunion conjures up some bitter feelings, some guilt, but these are soon overshadowed by the old attraction they once felt for one another. Dev struggles against the past, convinced that Les has never had feelings for her while Les is guilt-ridden and convinced that the superficial relationship that she has with her girlfriend in Manhattan is all she really needs. To go deeper would be to face the dreams she left behind—something Leslie thinks she is not prepared to do.

As the tentative relationship is rebuilt each woman finds out just how much the other has changed. They both begin to question the meaning of their past together, while they continue to run from one another in the present. The reader may wonder if these two will ever face themselves and each other to allow the past heal and possibilities to open up for them.

As the present conjures up memories for each woman, their history is revealed, doled out like the finest bittersweet chocolate to a chocoholic, and we find out why they are having such difficulties in the present. Who they have become on one hand is to be commended, but who they might become is the real challenge.

Radclyffe is a master of emotional and sexual tension, and she can always be counted on to write fully realized, lively characters within beautifully drawn plots. This is true for this stand-alone romance as well. The story lingers for quite a while after the reading is done. Don’t miss When Dreams Tremble—another story filled with heart.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Our Reviewers
Bios of Authors

Our Reviewers

Sandra Barret
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

Anna Furtado
Book Reviewer for Just About Write, The East Bay Voice, and The L-Word Literature section; 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

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.

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.

Contact Lori at

Lynne Pierce
Lynne Pierce is a life-long resident of Virginia who has spent the last thirty-two years trying to convince high school students that history is relevant to their lives and leading them through the process of learning to think for themselves about issues. Her main hobby since the age of five has been reading and she has spent the last ten years consuming every work of lesbian fiction that she can get her hands on. Lynne's reviews also can be read at
lesfic_unbound and

You can reach Lynne at

RLynne lives in the high desert of California, next to Joshua Tree National Park, with her partner of 24 years, and various four-footed friends. A semi-retired educator, she’s been reviewing books since 1992. Her reviews have appeared in various gay rags, including Mega-Scene, The Lesbian Teachers Network, Lesbian Connection, and others.

Contact her at

Cheri Rosenberg
Cheri Rosenberg is a reviewer for Just About Write, Queer Girl Talk, Midwest Book Review, The Independent Gay Writer, The L Life, and other venues posting book reviews for the lesbian community. Check out Cheri’s Corner at

Published under the pen name Cheri Crystal, her short stories can be found in Lessons in Love: Erotic Interludes 3, After Midnight: True Lesbian Erotic Confession and many other anthologies of short fiction. She is currently writing her second novel while adding the finishing touches to her first.

When she is not working as a Consultant Dietitian, she is reading, reviewing, and writing lesbian fiction. Cheri is an "activist reader," a wife and mother to a wonderful husband and three terrific children, and she maintains that if more heterosexuals would read the works of lesbian authors they would realize they are talented, intelligent, articulate, admirable, and their books are equally as praiseworthy as anything published for the mainstream market in the literary world. Cheri hopes to enlighten the world and make it a more tolerant place where lesbian fiction is every bit as respected as straight fiction.

Contact her at

Author Bios

Sarah Aldridge
Sarah Aldridge is the pseudonym of Anyda Marchant who spent the forty years of her working life in New York City and Washington, D.C. as a lawyer in both public and private practice. Upon retiring in 1972, she began a career as a writer and publisher. She originated the Naiad Press and was co-founder when it was incorporated in 1974.

In 1995 she and her lifelong companion Muriel Crawford withdrew as co-owners of the Naiad Press and founded a new publishing venture, A&M Books, which thus became the publisher of the Sarah Aldridge novels.

Journalist Andrea Peterson has called her books "perhaps the most substantive and enjoyable lesbian novels ever written." Anyda and Muriel lived in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, until their deaths. Anyda passed away in January and Muriel in June of 2006.

Susan Alexander
Susan Alexander, who lives in Cincinnati, is a graduate of Indiana University and has a Master's degree in English Literature. She worked for many years in the areas of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. Spider Song was her first book. She also wrote Sad Woman Blues, the sequel to Spider Song, and Allison Recalled.

Diana Tremain Braund
Diana Tremain Braund lives on the coast of Maine. She gets ideas for her books while walking on the beach with her dog, Bob. She has written six books which are published by and available from Bella Books. She can be reached at

Gun Brooke
Gunn Brooke is a two-time Golden Crown Literary Award winner. She lives in a small village in Sweden. She writes in both the genre of romance and in science fiction. She has five published works with Bold Strokes, with a sixth coming in 2008.

Lindy Cameron
Lindy Cameron lives on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula outside of Melbourne, Australia. She is an avid golfer and a convenor of Sisters in Crime Australia. She is the editor of its newsletter, Stiletto, and a freelance book editor.
Megan Carter
Megan Carter lives in Texas. She enjoys hanging out with friends at the coast and taking long, romantic road trips with her partner. Megan is the author of On the Wings of Love and When Love Finds a Home.

Jolie du Pre
Jolie du Pre is a writer of lesbian erotica and lesbian erotic romance. Her stories have appeared on numerous websites, in e-book and in print in Best Lesbian Erotica 2007 and more. Jolie is the editor of Iridescence: Sensuous Shades of Lesbian Erotica, published by Alyson Books. She is the founder of GLBT Promo ( a promotional group for GLBT erotica and erotic romance. She moderates the Erotic Authors Association's blog ( and she is also a weekly contributor to The Blushing Ladies Journal (
Her own website is at:

Jennifer Fulton/Grace Lennox/Rose Beecham
Jennifer Fulton also writes under the pen names of Grace Lennox and Rose Beecham. She has published sixteen novels and several short stories. In 2006 she received the Alice B. Reader's award for her body of work and is a multiple Golden Crown Literary Society "Goldie" Award recipient. She was also a Lambda Literary Award finalist in 2006.

Jennifer lives in the West with her
long-time partner, her daughter, and a menagerie of animals, where she writes historical novels, screenplays and lesbian fiction in various genres.

She enjoys writing, fine dining, and the open land around her home. She has a keen wit, which she brings to all aspects of her life, where she writes historical novels, screenplays and lesbian fiction in various genres

When she is not writing or reading, she loves to explore the mountains and prairies near her home, a landscape eternally and wonderfully foreign to her.

Lee Lynch
Lee Lynch has been proudly writing lesbian stories since the 1960s when she was a frequent contributor to The Ladder, the only lesbian publication at the time. Since then she has published a dozen books, her stories have appeared in a number of anthologies, and she has written reviews and feature articles for The Lambda Book Report and many other publications. Her syndicated column, “The Amazon Trail,” has been running since 1986. Awards: 2007 Alice B. Reader's Medal; 2006 Saints & Sinners Literary Hall of Fame inductee.

Erin O'Reilly
Erin O'Reilly lives with her family in the Hill Country of Texas. Her passion is computers, and prior to retirement, she worked in the local school system as a computer geek. She now has a small consulting business maintaining and creating Web sites along with computer troubleshooting. Revelations is her first book.

Radclyffe is a retired surgeon and full-time author-publisher with over twenty-five lesbian novels and anthologies in print, including the Lambda Literary and Golden Crown award winners Erotic Interludes 2 and 4: ed. with Stacia Seaman; Distant Shores, Silent Thunder; Justice Served; and Promising Hearts. She has selections in multiple anthologies including Wild Nights, Fantasy, Best Lesbian Erotica 2006 and 2007, After Midnight, Caught Looking: Erotic Tales of Voyeurs and Exhibitionists, First-Timers, Ultimate Undies: Erotic Stories About Lingerie and Underwear, A is for Amour, and H is for Hardcore. She is the recipient of the 2003 and 2004 Alice B. Readers' award for her body of work and is also the president of Bold Strokes Books, one of the world’s largest independent LGBT publishing companies.

Kate Sweeney
Kate Sweeney was born in Chicago and still lives in Illinois where she is an officer manager. Away From the Dawn is her third published novel. Kate won the 2007 Golden Crown Literary Society Award for Debut Author for her first book She Waits, which also won her a nomination for the Lambda Literary Award for lesbian mystery. Her second book in the Kate Ryan mystery series, A Nice Clean Murder, was released in 2006 and the third, The Trouble with Murder, will appear in 2008. She also has a short story in Wild Nights: (Mostly) True Stories of Women Loving Women that was published by Bella Books. She can be reached at or

Sarah Waters
Sarah Waters has a PhD in English Literature and now lives in South London.

Her first novel, Tipping the Velvet, won a 1999 Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday / John Llewelyn Rhys Prize.

Tipping the Velvet was published in February 1998 and was adapted by Andrew Davies for BBC drama in 2002

Sarah Waters' second novel, Affinity, was published in May 1999. For Affinity, Sarah was awarded the Somerset Maugham Prize and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, as well being runner up for the Welsh Book of the Year Award, all in 2000. Affinity has also been shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday / John Llewelyn Rhys Prize.

Her third novel, Fingersmith, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize 2002 and for the Man Booker Prize 2002. It won the CWA Historical Dagger prize for historical crime fiction and was picked more than any other novel as a Book of the Year 2002.

In January 2003, Sarah was named as one of Granta's twenty Best of Young British Writers. She is recipient of the South Bank Award for Literature 2003 and was named Author of the Year at the 2003 British Book Awards.

Sarah's fourth novel, The Night Watch, was published to critical acclaim in February 2006.