December 2006
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Title: All True Lovers
Author: Sarah Aldridge
ISBN: 0-93044-10-X
Publisher: Naiad
Distributed by A&M Books (
Price: $12.00
Pages: 282
Genre: Fiction/Lesbian

Sarah Aldridge's All True Lovers begins in a voice reminiscent of I Captured the Castle, a story of teenage angst and young love. Two young women, Andrea (Andy) Hollingsworth and Isabel ('Bel) Essory, meet on a bus on their way home from high school. Both girls are immediately smitten with one another, but Andy becomes the pursuer, while 'Bel takes on the role of a young woman above it all. As 'Bel cautiously begins to reveal herself, we find that she is embarrassed by her living circumstances and the fact that her family is poor. This is in contrast to Andy's comfortable life.

After spending days and months together in a rather stormy friendship, the two finally express their desire for one another and they take the first opportunity to convey what they feel when 'Bel and Andy spend their first night together. From that moment on, these two young women are fiercely committed to one another.

Other women in the two girls' lives soon present various obstacles to the pursuit of their relationship. 'Bel's self-centered mother cares little and pays even less attention to her daughter. 'Bel reveals to Andy that her mother only cares about having a man to take care of her, an attitude that 'Bel despises. Then there's 'Bel's old aunt who controls 'Bel with her money, paying for the education that 'Bel would never otherwise be able to afford at a Catholic girls school. 'Bel hopes to gain a college scholarship as a means to become completely self-sufficient. Hoping that the Mother Superior will help her, 'Bel falls under the influence of both the Mother Superior and her very old-world, conservative Catholic aunt, which forces her to wrestle with her duty to a God that she doesn't really believe in.

Andy battles her own impediment in the form of a mother who struggles to maintain control over her "baby," her youngest child, and who early on identifies what she perceives is a dangerous relationship between 'Bel and her daughter. The struggle becomes a tug-o-war between mother and daughter as Andy juggles trying not to hurt or lose her mother while still holding fast to her relationship with 'Bel. In an effort to keep both, Andy becomes very adept at deception. This duplicity adds to the tension between 'Bel and Andy because 'Bel realizes early on that their relationship will never fully thrive unless Andy can let go of and be honest with her mother.

As these two young women come into adulthood, only a bout with tuberculosis succeeds in separating them for a time. When 'Bel contracts the disease, she is sent away to a sanatorium and the two women don't know if they will ever see one another again. Andy fears for her lover's welfare and her mental state until they figure out how to communicate while 'Bel is confined.

When 'Bel is finally declared cured, the two women, attending college some distance away from one another, take up their secret lives together once again, albeit, infrequently. There is still never any doubt that they are devoted to each other. After a group of Andy's college friends catch a glimpse from a distance of the avant-garde 'Bel dressed in trousers, Andy's surreptitious meetings are perceived as an affair with a man. She does nothing to dispute this and the result is yet another tumultuous encounter with Andy's mother when she gets wind of the affair.

In the end, Andy and 'Bel never give up on their love and their desire to be together. The last half of All True Lovers portrays the relationship between 'Bel and Andy in a way that is suggestive of a more recent novel, Blood Sisters by Mary Jacobsen (Haworth Press). The two women in both stories are destined to be together, and although their lives take very different paths, they are always moving toward the day when they will be united without influence or interference. In All True Lovers, it is only when both young women are finally able to let go of the control others hold over them and when they stop trying to control those influences themselves, that they find their way. This complicated tangle of two very dissimilar families and how their lives become intertwined is another of Sarah Aldridge's offerings that should be included among the classics in any lesbian library.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Behind the Pine Curtain
Author: Gerri Hill
ISBN: 1594930570
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and
Price: $13.95   Pages: 268 pages
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Romance





Gerri Hill delivers very satisfying romances with every book, and Behind the Pine Curtain is no exception. While the story is somewhat predictable, she delves into serious themes while giving the reader a thoroughly enjoyable read. Hill's character and theme development remain the strengths of her storytelling.

In Behind the Pine Curtain, Kay's best friend Jackie returns home after 15 years, when her father dies, to attend his funeral. At 18, Jackie fled Pine Springs Texas after her parents kicked her out when she confessed to being a lesbian. Jackie never looked back, ending all ties with Kay and the rest of Pine Springs, assuming the entire town felt the same way as her parents did. When Jackie come backs, she has to deal with these unresolved feelings, including her childhood crush on her straight friend Kay.

The reader gets to know both Kay and Jackie through strong and illuminating dialogue. Jackie's courage and strength are revealed as we are exposed to her past and as she comes to terms with the present. At the same time Kay questions her uneven history with men especially her abusive ex-husband and begins to see Jackie as the solid foundation in her life. While the theme of sexual discovery is one Hill repeats in most of her romances, her expressive and poignant telling prevent the reader from becoming indifferent. Each story captures us anew. In Behind the Pine Curtain, Hill's words envelop us so we become a part of Kay and Jackie's love story. We are totally absorbed, and we cannot help but feel what they experience.

While the author can easily give us a rewarding romance filled with angst and heartfelt prose, she takes her novels a step further. In the book the reader is exposed to the devastating effects of being rejected by one's own family, how it can tear apart each family member's lives, and how the hatred can spread beyond the family to others. The contempt that Jackie's mother still holds for her daughter is evident and chilling, and there is no reconciliation in sight for them. Her mother's place in society is more important than her daughter. But the author balances this rejection with the support Jackie receives from Kay's extended family, and this sharply contrasts with the cruelty shown by her parents.

It is often said that if the reader knows what will happen in the romance and how it will end then the novel must be formulaic. If that is the case, then Hill is one of the few authors today that can write "formulaic" romances without them appearing prescribed and fixed. Behind the Pine Curtain is delightful and inspiring. It is a must read for all romance fans.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: Blown Away
Author: Perry Wynn
ISBN: 1-56023-607-8
Publisher: Haworth Press
Distributed by
Price: $19.95
Pages: 294
Genre: Fiction/Lesbian

Set in the near future in a not so implausible United States, Blown Away tells several tales, revealing their interrelationships as the story unfolds. The story opens with Chris Landry, a dynamic civil rights lawyer in the midst of a landmark case for gay rights. Jessica Thompson is accused of influencing a "minor" and forcing her into a contract under duress. The contract is a civil union, which was performed legally in the state of Oregon, between Jessica and her partner, Amanda Harkins. The fact that Amanda was twenty years old, legal age in Oregon, and fully consenting, means nothing to Amanda's father. In Idaho, the state that Senator Harkins represents, homosexual unions of any kind are illegal and they are despised by Harkins, the right wing politico with aspirations to higher office.

After Amanda's father coaxes her back to Idaho, there are rumors of her deprogramming and, when she dies under mysterious circumstances, her death is portrayed as due to "untreated diabetes." Because Jessica risked freedom to come to Amanda's bedside before her death, she is now being tried, with the possibility of spending time in jail.

Following Amanda's death, the President approaches Senator Harkins to cut a deal in which Harkins becomes the President's running mate for his second term of office. All Harkins needs to do is to set in motion the influence of a group called Christians for Moral Accountability (CMA). However, the CMA does not give away its influence without something in return and these manipulations cost the President-and the country-and eventually result in tragedy for Chris, Meagan, and Jessica Thompson. What the CMA demands sets in motion events that have repercussions throughout the remainder of the story.

One of the young lawyers working on the Thompson case is a woman named Elizabeth Nix who in the next phase of the story has become the governor of an area of Florida called "The Territory"-a place where gays and lesbians are free to live their lives and marry. One of Governor Nix's closest advisors is Meagan Sullivan, Chris Landry's partner. Another is Jessica Thompson, herself, now the Attorney General of The Territory. The rest of America does not allow lesbians and gays to marry and any sexual activity between same-sex couples leads to arrest and prosecution. This results in jail time, unless deportation to The Territory is an option.

The life of a woman named Katherine Hopkins soon becomes entangled with Nix and her advisers when she is extradited to The Territory as a result of her conviction, but Dr. Hopkins is not who she appears to be. Upon entering The Territory, she begins searching for information on multisymptom infectious cirrhosis (MIC), a disease more devastating than AIDS that is passed on through the bite of a mosquito making everyone susceptible. We discover that her incentive for wanting the information is very personal and her actions make us wonder if the doubts that the Governor and her advisors have about Katherine's motivations are justified.

The governor and her advisers have a closely guarded secret: The Territory is very close to a cure for MIC, but there are details that need to be ironed out before it can go public with the information and make the drug available to everyone. Dr. Hopkins could be the key to resolving these issues, but everyone in the government wonders if Katherine can be trusted. To complicate matters, Elizabeth Nix is taken with Dr. Hopkins and the feeling appears to be mutual-unless it's all an act on Katherine's part.

In addition, Dr. Hopkins is being watched very closely and covertly by people outside The Territory, as well as by those within, and when someone is found stealing something very precious and guarded from the grounds of the Governor's Mansion, things start to go bad very quickly for Katherine. In the end, the Governor discovers how President Harkins is linked to events of the past, as well as to those of the present. His involvement compromises The Territory and the rest of the United States and forces Katherine and Elizabeth to embark on a whole new period of assessment and trust building.

In spite of the momentary confusion caused by using the similar names of Harkins (Jessica's partner and the Senator from Idaho) and Hopkins (the doctor), Perry Wynn has done a marvelous job with this complex tale of political intrigue, innovative governing concepts, and strong women who are willing to make sacrifices for the good of humankind. Part romance, part political thriller, Blown Away is a great weekend read, and the title is indicative of a host of multi-layered meanings.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Cast a Wide Circle
Author: Lesley Davis
Publisher: Windstorm Creative (Lavender Line)
ISBN: 1-59092-121-6
Available at:; StarCrossed Productions,
Cost: $15.99   Pages: 223
Genre: Paranormal/Romance

Cast a Wide Circle is by Lesley Davis who is also the author of the Adepts of Calluna series. In each of her books, Davis creates a world of magic that flirts just on the edges of being possible. Her characters are women dealing with the ordinary world with unordinary powers.

Taryn Parker runs a successful cyber café that is connected to a friend's restaurant. What makes Taryn interesting though is that her constant companion is her best friend David. Who is dead. David was murdered and hasn't been able to "cross over," so he lingers behind to help Taryn with her other interesting activity. She receives emails from dead people who need help with finding their ways to the "other" side. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, "You have mail." Taryn receives the messages on an unplugged computer; then David enters the computer to help these people find their ways. It's this particular ability that brings them in contact with Kerrigan Archer. Kerrigan is a witch, the leader of a coven that has a problem. There is a magical chant that this coven says to keep the universe in balance and the keeper of the chant has been murdered by a radical group of monks working for "dark forces." To protect the chant, the keeper took the chant with him and now the coven needs to recover it before the universe spins out of control. The effects are already being felt as wars, murder and mayhem break out around the world. As Taryn and Kerrigan try to recover the chant, they have to deal with the monks who are trying to stop them both here and on the "other" side. The only hope they have to be successful eventually is the growing bond between the two women, but that bond may not be strong enough to overcome death.

What makes Cast a Wide Circle appealing is that Davis makes it so probable. Her witches don't run around twitching their noses to make things happen and, except for her unusual computer, Taryn doesn't appear to have anything special about her. They don't zap themselves from one place to another, but drive cars. They live, for the most part, completely normal lives. It's the realistic settings, along with the characters, that sell the story. Taryn is an improbable hero who can't seem to keep herself from getting hurt and that makes her appealing. This is not a book for those who like their stories heavy in the paranormal; however, it has just enough to make it an interesting story for most readers.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Distant Shores, Silent Thunder
Author: Radclyffe
IBSN: 1-933110-08-2
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
Available From: Bella Books,; StarCrossed Productions,; or
Price: $15.95   Pages: 304
Genre: Romance

If there were ever a series that created a yearning to visit a particular peninsula in Massachusetts if only to catch of glimpse of Sheriff Reese Conlon, her loving partner, Dr. Tory King, Rookie Officer Bri Parker, and now Dr. KT O'Bannon, and Pia Torres, PT, OT, CMT, then Radclyffe's Distant Shores, Silent Thunder will clinch it. After being immersed in the first two novels, Safe Harbor, and Beyond the Breakwater, and the fourth in the best-selling Provincetown series Storms of Change, one can only hope that Radclyffe never tires of writing about these characters because readers will never tire of reading about them. It's not easy to keep a series fresh, but Radclyffe is proficient at bringing in new blood while keeping us abreast of old favorites, to satisfy and yet fuel the insatiable hunger for the ultimate escapism of getting lost in a book.

What endears Radclyffe to her followers goes beyond telling an exciting story in a great setting and tapping into all aspects of human nature. The award-winning author has her fans eating out of her skillful hands by giving them characters who are so real it's either impossible not to search every cruiser or bike for Reese and Bri or to hope if you ever need a doctor in an emergency that Tory or KT will come to the rescue. If you enjoy witnessing the mending of a broken heart and spirit, falling in love, or aspire to having forever with one special person, you will love Distant Shores, Silent Thunder. Radclyffe eloquently puts into words what it feels like when a woman loves another woman with her body, heart, and soul, and it's riveting.

Distant Shores, Silent Thunder takes us on the tumultuous journey of a woman when her career and confidence are shaken for the first time and redeems her in every way possible. It is easy to forgive Tory's ex-lover, Dr. KT O'Bannon, and her past transgressions because Radclyffe has us falling in love with her transformation. Fate has landed the surgeon a low blow but in the process has taught her what's important in life. KT meets a therapist who not only helps restore the use of her hand, but who restores faith in matters of the heart. KT and Pia are perfect together and as far as love interests go, it's a match made in heaven, but can heaven really be found on Earth?

Whether the scene is between Reese and Tory, Bri and Allie, or KT and Pia, Radclyffe keeps the pace fluid while doing each couple justice. It's wonderful to follow Reese and Tory's pre-marital bliss with baby Regina. Even when Reese's oft-dangerous job and other threats loom on the horizon, the couple's relationship remains solid. Bri shows great promise as an officer and Reese is very proud of her, while Reese is Bri's hero and mentor. Bri's character is put to the test in more ways than one. Is Bri strong enough to remain faithful to her lover studying art abroad in the face of stiff competition by a persistent, desirable fellow officer Allie? Then there is the pleasure of rooting for KT and Pia and hoping they will have their ever after. Further keeping the interest for continual sequels, new characters are always popping up as well, and Counselor Trey Pelosi shows great promise of future story lines.

Few authors write medical drama better than those who have lived it. Radclyffe's medical expertise enhances the clinical scenes dramatically but her writing is never condescending or over-the-top. There is that perfect balance so that everyone can enjoy and understand what's going on. She also writes police procedurals with the same flourish. It is no surprise that Distant Shores, Silent Thunder was awarded a 2005 Lammy and was a Goldie finalist in the Romance category. Storms of Change continues the saga and is touted as being Radclyffe's best work to date. This reviewer thinks that every work is her best, only it just keeps getting better.

Romance is a leading seller in fiction and Radclyffe has yearning, love, sex, and satisfaction down to an art. Distant Shores, Silent Thunder earns five plus stars and is one of those books you can read more than once and enjoy it more each time.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

Title: First Instinct
Author: JLee Meyer
ISBN: 1933110597
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and
Price: $15.95    Pages: 272
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Romance/Intrigue

First Instinct by JLee Meyer has heart thumping chase scenes and life-threatening encounters under the cover of darkness. This story features a deeply flawed heroine who is trying to maintain a professional distance from the woman she is protecting. Sounds a little formulaic? Not so, because Meyer's presentation and storytelling is one of a kind. She does everything right in her second novel, First Instinct. Meyer's easy writing style helps her readers get attached to the characters as we become engrossed in the book. Her stories are like magnets, pulling us in and refusing to let us go. This is a trait that she has carried over from her first successful novel, Forever Found.

The timing and pacing are even and quick throughout First Instinct. Meyer develops the romance and suspense so they are in harmony with each other. She never rushes a scene, but never adds more words than needed. While we may guess at where the end will take the reader, we have no idea how the author will achieve that, and this is what makes Meyer and First Instinct rare. In the end, she gives us a very satisfying read with a rewarding ending. Meyer makes it look simple. Now that is a mark of a seasoned pro.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: Fresh Tracks
Author: Georgia Beers
ISBN: 1933110635
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and
Price: $15.95 Pages: 240 pages
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Romance

Georgia Beers pens romances with sparks. Based on the reviews she receives and the ranks on Amazon and other online book stores, her readership loves these stories. They expect a certain kind of romance from Beers, and she always delivers. I have been waiting for a book that defines Beers as not just another romance novelist. I found this with her newest release, Fresh Tracks. From the start it is very different in many ways from Beers' other books. Her trademark style is still there, but more solid and more developed. If you are looking for a story where two women fall in love, have some misunderstandings along the way, and then move on to a committed relationship, Fresh Tracks is not that book. And I, for one, am glad that it is not that simple. It is a meaty and challenging story with an ensemble cast where the lines between lovers and friends are sometimes blurred.

The story spotlights one week in a vacation cabin in the mountains, between Christmas and New Year's Day, with a group of women who are friends, lovers and others. Each chapter focuses on each character and their relationship to the others, rotating between the entire cast more than once to fully understand where they have been and where they are right at the moment. The author takes her time meticulously developing the back story so we learn each character's history especially as it connects to the other women in the cabin. Beers does not overdo the details; her writing is tight and fluid. The realism is refreshing but not maudlin. Beers' characters take a hard look at the issues. We see the grit and glue that hold friends and lovers together as well as the splinters that tear them apart. Beers does an exceptional job at conveying this.

This is a story told uniquely by Beers with a clear and strong voice. She stretches her talent with Fresh Tracks and rises above the pack of romance novelists. It takes a lot of guts for a popular storyteller to try her hand at something new. Beers' love of her craft shines through with this bold and successful move. I applaud her and look forward to more offerings like Fresh Tracks.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: Gold Mountain
Author: Anne Azel
ISBN: 1933720042
Publisher: P.D. Publishing, Inc
Available at: P.D. Publishing,; and StarCrossed Productions,
Cost: $13.99   Pages: 113
Genre: Romance

A tantalizing blend of Chinese Canadian flavors is the best description of Kelly Li's world in Anne Azel's Gold Mountain. Azel writes from the heart, and her soul pours out, eloquently and intimately, onto each page. Reading about other cultures is like taking a vacation without the need to leave home. Azel, a gifted author, clearly understands the intricacies of traditional Chinese values and employs that depth of comprehension to enrich this adventure for her readers. Equally as compelling as Kelly's Chinese world is that of Jane Anderson's Caucasian background. Azel depicts both cultures so accurately that it doesn't matter what nationality, religion, or orientation the reader relates to because differences and similarities between and among varying ethnic traditions become transparent. Kelly and Jane are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but as their story unfolds, it appears that Yin and Yang converge to become one.

In the 1800s, many Chinese people referred to the New World as Golden Mountain. Their goal was to gain passage, line their pockets with gold, and go back to China wealthy and proud. Rather than returning to their homeland, some stayed, but the government made it virtually impossible for them to bring their families from China to join them. In the early 1900s, at the height of the head count, Jimmy Li came and was relentless in building his Golden Mountain as he bought up red brick buildings. All he lacked was a son to inherit his fortune. In 1955, Jimmy Li adopted a son, Jason, whom he revered, but he treated Kelly and her half sister, Sarah, as non-entities.

Kelly is keenly aware that she's different. During her teenage years, she remains in the closet. She doesn't date and has no life away from home, but she studies hard every free moment. Kelly works in the back of her father's Chinese take-out until she finds her way out of the kitchen and into law school. Smart and accomplished, she becomes a successful defense attorney. One day in court, she meets Officer Jane Anderson who is a witness for the opposition on Kelly's case. Their paths cross more than once, and mutual attraction takes over where fate left off. It seems a match made in heaven - until Jason Li's murder.

Officer Anderson is called to the scene, and the growing affection between the women hits a road block. As Kelly's life falls apart, she laments, "Because I couldn't face my own shame, I had hid the truth at all costs. The costs had been very high: my sister's sanity, my father's death, my aunt's hate, my lover's scorn, and now my fall. The Golden Mountain that my father had so carefully built was no more than ice eaten away by the salt tears of secrets and lies." (p. 81).

This is but one of many passages beautifully penned; Azel says more in three sentences than many authors say in three pages.

Jane, a widow with a young daughter, disappointed her family when she went into law enforcement rather than a more acceptable position as a nurse or other traditional female profession. She redeemed herself when she married Chris and had a child, but his untimely death left her free to follow her heart. What would her family think if they knew that she was a lesbian . . . and that her late husband knew the truth about her? What if she falls in love with the woman of her dreams, but secrets and lies tear them apart?

Gold Mountain proves that Azel has what it takes to raise the bar in lesbian fiction. Ms. Azel mixes drama, romance, mystery, and the timely topics that lesbians face in our society: bigotry, religious injustice, and the imperative that all countries, not just Canada, legalize gay marriage. She tells the story in a most convincing and satisfying way, while staying true to two cultures. I applaud her efforts.

Azel is improving her craft by developing her own style and distinctive voice. If you long for originality in theme, characterization, and plot, then Gold Mountain is for you. Azel tells an important, timely, and intriguing story, which entertains even while encouraging the reader to think and explore new ideas and issues. Gold Mountain is a five plus star read.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

Title: Gold Mountain
Author: Anne Azel
ISBN: 1933720042
Publisher: P.D. Publishing, Inc
Available at: P.D. Publishing,; and StarCrossed Productions,
Cost: $13.99   Pages: 113
Genre: Romance





Asian culture gave birth to a concept called minimalism. The idea is to create a picture or image by providing as little information as possible and then letting the viewer or reader's imagination fill in the gaps; thereby creating a more complete picture than was actually presented. An example of this is Japanese haiku where the skillful use of a few syllables creates a complete poem. Perhaps this is what Anne Azel was trying to do when she wrote Gold Mountain. Since the story is set primarily in a transplanted Asian setting, that style seems appropriate, but it presents challenges for people who are not used to that type of reading.

Kelly Li is a second-generation Chinese woman living in Canada. As the second daughter in the family, she was a special disappointment to her father who wanted to have a son more than anything, so Kelly has had to struggle on her own to succeed in the Gold Mountain, the name given by the Chinese to the Americas in the 1800s. Despite the rejection of most of her family, she has created a life as a successful attorney, only to have that threatened by family duty, something that Kelly cannot escape, when she is drawn into a murder that has its roots in the twisted dynamics between her relatives. Her obligations to her family also threaten to destroy a budding relationship with Jane Anderson, a policewoman who is struggling to come to grips with her own sexual orientation. Jane is attempting to deal with honesty on different levels. She is trying to live her life as she truly feels she should after a period of living with deception. She also finds herself in the position of being a law enforcement official drawn to someone who at best is lying to her and at worst may be a murderer. She has to weigh her own feelings against what is best for her young daughter. Gold Mountain is the story of both of these women as they struggle to align family obligations with the lives they would like to live and try to mesh those lives so that they can be together.

Gold Mountain has great potential to demonstrate the differences between cultures and it does give some insight into that, but the style that Azel chooses to use keeps the story from fully developing. The characters don't seem complete. The reader may not totally grasp what causes them to react the way they do to situations. There are hints at their motivations, but not well-articulated explanations. Azel tells the story by having alternating chapters expressing each character's point of view, but there is no blending of those views; nowhere to say here is A and B and how they fit together. If the reader likes a story where all of the plot points are told and explained, then there may be difficulties with reading this book. This is similar to reading a heavily outlined story where the parts have not been connected smoothly. There is a great deal of information, but it's incomplete. The reader knows where the characters are going and how they get there, but the rich detail is missing. Incidents seem rushed and tied up almost too neatly because there is not a lot of development of detail here. There is a good story in what is written, but it requires work on the part of the reader to pull it out. For people who just want to enjoy reading a book, this may not be the one for them. Anne Azel has experimented with a different style. Whether or not she has been successful is left up to the reader.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Pipeline
Author: Brenda Adcock
ISBN: 978-1-932300-64-2
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises, LLC
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $ 15.95
Pages: 175
Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Lesbian





Pipeline by Brenda Adcock captured my attention from the first six lines and held me captive for the entire ride. Joanna Carlisle is tough, lives life on the edge, and before retirement, she was one of those work-obsessed women who put her career before her family with disastrous results. Jo didn't know what she had until it was gone. The reclusive photojournalist, part-time sleuth is leading a relaxing life out on her Texas ranch until her ex shows up after a fifteen-year absence. Jo feels a familiar pang when Cate discloses the reason for the visit, but her stubborn, self-destructive nature thwarts her ability to repair past regrets. Will Jo learn from her mistakes?

Cate Hammond, an attractive and successful attorney, manages to get back under Jo's skin. Adcock flawlessly weaves the past and present to show the love lost between two passionate women who are so right for each other, the reader prays for reconciliation.

Pipeline is a classic romance as much as it is a mystery. When Cate enlists Jo's help, Jo, against her better judgment, gets in over her head while investigating the attempted murder of her estranged journalist son, Kyle. She risks her life uncovering the unscrupulous stench of the men running the ABP meat packing business. Watching Jo take on the villains is as compelling as reminiscing about Jo and Cate when they were happy together. Jo's lack of concern for her own safety shows a caring woman of substance, even though she has trouble expressing her love in as many words. There's also the hope that Jo and her son will renew their relationship.

Every scene shows who Jo is and what makes her tic. Adcock's characterization is consistent, convincing, and gives the reader well-rounded, three-dimensional characters. Despite Jo's foul butch mouth or her penchant for pushing away the people she loves, the flawed, yet heroic, woman clinches the reader's wish for her happiness.

Pipeline is touching. I highly recommend you get a copy of this five star romantic mystery that is hot without being sexually explicit and intriguing without being gory. Adcock successfully validates older women in our youth-obsessed society. At 57, Jo is just as feisty, sexy, and adventurous as women who are half her age.

Discovering Pipeline by Brenda Adcock is just the beginning of what I hope are many memorable reads by this talented author. I can't wait for Reiko's Garden, due May 2007, and Redress of Grievances, tentatively due August 2007.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

Title: Promising Hearts
Author: Radclyffe
ISBN: 1-933110-44-9
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $15.95   Pages: 265
Genre: Fiction/Lesbian/Western





Promising Hearts continues the story of some of the inhabitants of New Hope, Montana in the post-Civil War era that began in Innocent Hearts. The story continues as Kate Beecher, recently recovered from a near-fatal case of influenza, moves to Jessie Forbes' ranch and the two settle into a period of adjustment.

Mae, the saloon madam and a long-time friend of Jessie's, meets the new doctor in town, Vance Phelps, and is immediately smitten with her. Vance has recently arrived from the east, where she has been recuperating from the devastating injuries she received in the last great battle of the War Between the States, but her physical injuries are small when compared to the trauma to her mind and her soul.

Vance's similarities to Jessie are many. She is an independent woman who is very skilled at her profession, and she cares little about what others think of her, as witnessed by her manner of dress and her freedom to move around the New Hope area tending to the bodily ills of the locals.

Vance is a dedicated doctor, who comes to New Hope to escape the pity of her family and friends. All she wants is to be left in peace to live an unfeeling life. However, Mae awakens feelings within her that she never thought she'd experience again, and soon Vance finds refuge in Mae's arms, starting the two on a stormy relationship, made more difficult by the demons that each woman battles.

Mae longs for acceptance in the community, and she protects the working girls at the saloon with a fierceness and dedication that gets her into trouble. An anonymous saloon owner allows the man who collects payments from Mae and the girls to have free rein with his charges. When Mae rejects his advances, he beats her. When Vance finds out, she can hardly control herself and becomes obsessed with finding out who the man is, who the saloon owner is, and she struggles against becoming overly protective of Mae.

At the ranch, Jessie, too, encounters trouble when she discovers that someone is stealing her horses; this, while battling her new lover's independent spirit as the two learn to live together. Jessie, too, must learn a lesson similar to Vance's - that her partner must have her own independence and that Jessie cannot constantly protect her from herself.

It is Vance who finally helps Jessie stop the horse thieves, Vance who offers to help Kate find something meaningful to do with her life, and Vance who finally resolves Mae's dilemma while ensuring that she have both independence and some manner of respect from the townspeople.

These four women overcome great odds as they work toward wholeness for themselves and in their relationships in another great tale given to us by the master of lesbian romance, Radclyffe. This sequel to Innocent Hearts continues the enriching experience of life in the Montana Territory as seen through the eyes of these four dynamic women. It is possible to fully enjoy Promising Hearts without reading the first book, but who would want to miss the whole experience? There is potential for many more stories of life in New Hope, and this reviewer can only hope that Rad has more in mind for this series. For now, though, take a trip back to the "Old" West when it was new, and lose yourself in the story of the strong, courageous women of Promising Hearts, another of Radclyffe's tales not to be missed.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: The Walls of Westernfort
Author: Jane Fletcher
IBSN: 1-933110-24-4
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
Available From: Bella Books,, StarCrossed Productions,; or
Price: $15.95 Pages: 296
Genre: Speculative Fiction





Award-winning author Jane Fletcher explores serious themes in the Celaeno series and creates a world that loosely parallels the one we inhabit. Despite being female, the rulers of Celaeno are as susceptible to human foibles, and senseless wars, as are the political leaders on Earth. In The Walls of Westernfort, Fletcher weaves a plausible action-packed plot, set on a credible world, and with appealing multi-dimensional characters. The result is a fantasy by one of the best speculative fiction writers in the business.

Chief Consultant Pereira, current leader of the Sisterhood believes she has the goddess given right to rule the world and to regulate everything in it. Threatened by rebel heretics, the Sisterhood requests candidates to carry out a risky assignment to rid the world of the blasphemous heretic leaders, and Natasha Ionadis, a devoted Guardswoman who is willing to die for her beliefs, volunteers. On her mission, Natasha will pose as a heretic along with two other temple guards and thus get close to the women she must assassinate.

What happens to a young woman who would do anything in honor of the goddess Celaeno, when she signs up for the mission? Natasha believes the religious teaching of the Sisters without question. Impressionable, pious, and perhaps brainwashed, Natasha's heart and soul swell with love for the Goddess. However, as she gets to know the heretics, Natasha's faith falters to the point where she doesn't recognize herself nor does she know what she truly believes anymore. Further complications include matters of the heart as Natasha wonders if she can maintain her celibacy and, more important, do what she started out to do.

This story takes place on an imaginary world, but in Fletcher's brand of speculative fiction, the line is blurred where the reality ends and the fantasy begins. I strongly recommend that you get caught up in the loves and lives of heroines you'll adore. The Walls of Westernfort is an interlinked yet standalone novel that will leave you sated but begging for more. Luckily, The Temple at Landfall and Rangers at Roadsend are available to read until Fletcher puts forth another in the Celaeno Series. The Walls of Westernfort, a 2005 Golden Crown Literary Award Winner, is as engaging as it is well written and should not be missed. I can't wait for the 2007 release of Dynasty of Rogues. Fletcher is also known for another series, The Lyremouth Chronicles.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

Title: Writing My Love
Author: Claire McNab
ISBN: 159493063
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: Bella Books,; StarCrossed Productions,
Cost: $13.95   Pages: 185
Genre: Romance/Comedy





Claire McNab is known as a mystery writer, not for romances, which may be why she chose to make Writing My Love a spoof of the romance genre. McNab demonstrates a sense of humor in this book that does not appear in her earlier works, but has begun to show up in her Kylie Kendall series. Romance authors should get a chuckle at themselves when they read this book.

Vonny Smith writes the equivalent of lesbian "bodice rippers" (think Harlequin romances) under the name of Victoria Vanderveer. Although her public life is very successful, Vonny has not found the romantic success that her own heroines experience. The answer to that problem may be her editor Diana Broswell. Vonny has fallen totally in love with the always professional Diana who is friendly, but cool to any other type of relationship. Vonny is convinced that, if she can just make Diana see how great they would be together, then they definitely have a future; however, Diana is not the type of person you simply state your desires to, especially when you're not sure she's a lesbian. Vonny decides the way to win Diana is to write a thinly disguised novel that is about them. As Diana edits the book she will slowly, but surely, come to realize how perfectly they fit together and will return Vonny's feelings. What ensues is a hilarious use of every exaggerated or bad practice used in romance novels. There are, of course, the obligatory ex-lovers of both women who show up to complicate Vonny's scheme, and until the last pages, the reader doesn't know if Vonny's strategy will work or not.

McNab is showing the maturity of someone who has published many books and realizes she doesn't have to take herself or her craft so seriously. That doesn't mean that she's lazy at her craft, far from it. Her use of scenes and characters shows that she knows what she is doing. The fact that she feels comfortable in poking fun at the best-selling genre in any type of fiction demonstrates the confidence she feels as a writer. It's also just a good romp. The reader can't help but feel for Vonny as she tries desperately to win the woman of her dreams while being unable to simply tell her how she feels. Diana, at times, seems totally obtuse, but then the question arises, is she really that unaware or does she know exactly what is going on and is leading Vonny where she wants her? Romance fans, if they have an ounce of humor, should enjoy this book and the gentle way it lampoons their favorite type of story.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

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

Arlene is also a fiction editor. Contact her at

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

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

Cheri Rosenberg
Cheri Rosenberg is a reviewer for Independent Gay Writer, Just About Write, Midwest Book Review, The L Life, and other venues posting book reviews for the lesbian community.

Cheri's published works, written under the pen name Cheri Crystal, can be found in Lessons in Love: Erotic Interludes 3 and After Midnight: True Lesbian Erotic Confessions. She is currently writing her second novel while adding the finishing touches to her first.

When she is not working part-time as a Consultant Dietitian in a nursing home, 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 this year.

Anne Azel
Anne Azel was born in England but has been a Canadian citizen for many years. She has travelled all over the world and uses her stories to reflect many of her experiences. "Travelling," she says, "has been both rewarding and very hard work."

Anne says: "To me, writing is a way of sharing experiences and also a way to creatively record my travels. I find it very relaxing to write, and I have met some truly amazing people since I started to post my stories some years ago."

Anne has previously published Seasons (two editions), Murder Mystery Series, Journeys, and Encounters: Book I and Encounters: Book II.

Anne, now retired, continues to write. She lives in Northern Ontario. Her interests include canoeing and painting.

Brenda Adcock
Originally from the Appalachian region of Eastern Tennessee, Brenda now lives in Central Texas, near Austin. She began writing in junior high school where she wrote an admittedly hokey western serial to entertain her friends. Completing her graduate studies in Eastern European history in 1971, she worked as a graphic artist, a public relations specialist for the military and a display advertising specialist until she finally had to admit that her mother might have been right and earned her teaching certification. For the last twenty-plus years she has taught world history and political science. Brenda and her partner of ten years, Cheryl, are the parents of three grown children and one still in high school, as well as two grandchildren. Rounding out their home are three temperamental cats, an occasionally conscious Bassett Hound and a hyperactive puppy of undetermined lineage. When she is not writing, Brenda creates stained glass and shoots pool at her favorite bar. She may be contacted at and welcomes all comments.

Georgia Beers
Georgia Beers and Bonnie, her partner of over a decade, live in upstate New York where they have a cozy little house, two dogs, and a disdain for the winter weather. They plan to retire somewhere warm…eventually. In the meantime, Georgia gets her ideas for characters and stories from virtually anywhere…television, the grocery store, the Eddie Bauer catalog. She's been writing for as long as she can remember and has only recently begun to embrace the title of "romance novelist." After all, who doesn't love a little romance?

Lesley Davis
Lesley Davis is the author of the Adepts of Calluna series and lives in England with her American-born partner Cindy. She suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but works as a mortgage associate when she is not writing. Cast a Wide Circle is dedicated to her father, who was diagnosed with cancer around the time the book was written.

Jane Fletcher
Jane Fletcher is a 2005 Golden Crown Literary Award Winner in the Sci-FI/Fantasy category. She was born in Greenwich, London in 1956. She now lives alone in the south-west of England, after the sudden, and untimely death of her partner.

Her love of fantasy began at the age of seven when she encountered Greek Mythology. This was compounded by a childhood spent clambering over every example of ancient masonry she could find (medieval castles, megalithic monuments, Roman villas). It was her resolute ambition to become an archaeologist when she grew up, so it was something of a surprise when she became a software engineer instead.

Jane started writing when her partner refused to listen to yet another lengthy account of "a really good idea for a story," and insisted that she write it down. After many years of revision, the result, Lorimal's Chalice, was published. This book was short-listed for the Gaylactic Spectrum award for that year.

Gerri Hill
Gerri Hill is a native of Texas who transplanted for a while to Colorado, but she returned to Texas to follow her partner Diane and they live there now. The rest of the "family" includes Zach and Max, both Labs, and the cats Sierra, Tori and Jordan (who started life very confused because everyone thought he was a "she" for a few months). Gerri has authored a number of books and her interests include hiking, mountain biking, rock collecting and gardening. Television doesn't interest her much, but she loves music. You can read more about her and her work at

Claire McNab
Claire McNab is the author of the detective-inspector Carol Ashton and the undercover agent Denise Cleever series, for a total of more than 18 best-selling mystery novels. To that she has added a series set in Los Angeles featuring fledgling detective Kylie Kendall and several other books. She has served as the president of Sisters in Crime and is a member of both the Mystery Writers of America and the Science Fiction Writers of America. Like her character Kylie Kendall, Claire left her native Australia to live in Los Angeles, a city she still finds quite astonishing.

JLee Meyer
JLee Meyer utilizes her background in psychology and speech pathology in her work as an international communication consultant. Spending time in airports, planes and hotel rooms allows her the opportunity to pursue two of her favorite passions: reading and writing lesbian fiction.

JLee and her life partner celebrate their lives together in both Northern California and Manhattan.

Radclyffe is the author of over twenty lesbian romances and anthologies including the
2005 Lambda Literary Award winners Erotic Interludes 2: Stolen Moments, ed. with Stacia Seaman and the romance, Distant Shores, Silent Thunder. She is the recipient of the 2003 and 2004 Alice B. Readers' award, a 2005 Golden Crown Literary Society Award winner in both the romance category (Fated Love) and the mystery/intrigue/action category (Justice in the Shadows), and a 2006 GCLS Award finalist in the romance category (Distant Shores, Silent Thunder) and winner in the mystery/intrigue/action category (Justice Served).

Radclyffe has selections in multiple anthologies including Call of the Dark and The Perfect Valentine (Bella Books), Best Lesbian Erotica 2006 and After Midnight (Cleis), First-Timers and Ultimate Undies: Erotic Stories About Lingerie and Underwear (Alyson), and Naughty Spanking Stories 2 and Sex and Candy (Pretty Things Press). She is also the president of Bold Strokes Books, a lesbian publishing company.

Perry Wynn
Perry Wynn was born and raised in Alabama and now lives in North Carolina with her partner and their two dogs, two cats, and a bird. She has spent more than twenty years working in the field of natural resources and is currently working on her second novel.