March 2007
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Title: A Nice Clean Murder
Author: Kate Sweeney
Publisher: Intaglio Publications
ISBN: 9781933113784
Pages: 246
Cost: $16.95
Available at: StarCrossed Productions;
Genre: Mystery

"Thanks for picking me up. I-I've thought about you," I said, suddenly feeling warm. Geez, has she got the heat on?

Maggie watched the road. "Really? I thought about you, too. I was on call in the emergency room. A man came in who stepped on a rake and the handle came up and broke his nose. I said to myself, now this is something Kate would do."

Thus begins the second installment in the Kate Ryan Mysteries series. Kate never met an accident she couldn't have and can turn the act of walking across a room into an ordeal worse than running an obstacle course. As she bumbles along, there is Dr. Maggie Winfield, who wants to love Kate, but who spends most of her time patching up Kate's injuries and trying to learn why this woman is so withdrawn.

A Nice Clean Murder opens with Kate's brother-in-law Mac discovering that an uncle he barely knew has left him property in Ireland and a mystery along with it. Someone doesn't want Mac to claim his inheritance and makes that clear when the family is stalked by a person who doesn't mind hurting people. Kate is determined to find out why and Mac refuses to be intimidated, so they and Kate's sister Teri head for Ireland, closely followed by Maggie and her brother Charlie. The friends are about to encounter murder, ancient stories of pirates and superstitions buried deep in Irish folklore.

Kate will also encounter a very pretty lawyer who is definitely interested in Kate. The problem is that Kate instinctively knows that Maggie should be where her heart is invested, but she just can't. She is still wrestling with demons from her past that almost killed her and block her from getting involved with anyone. As Kate struggles to include Maggie in her life and solve the mystery swirling around Mac, she continues to be a one woman calamity, bouncing from one accident to another. The quest becomes to solve the mystery before someone she loves is hurt, or worse, and not drive Maggie away in the process. And beautiful Bridget doesn't make any of it easy.

The thing that makes Kate Ryan so appealing as a character is that she's so human. She falls down, she gets mugged and she has panic attacks when she thinks about her past. Mysteries seem to puzzle her as much as anyone when they first occur and she has to think her way through what is going on. The best part however is that sometimes she gets a clue from sheer dumb luck.

Kate is surrounded by a fun cast of characters. Teri, the younger sister, often acts more like she's Kate's mother, and Teri's husband Mac obviously loves and respects Kate, and enjoys the fact that she gives him an excuse to put some adventure in his life. Maggie loves Kate, but finds her the most aggravating person she's ever run into and Maggie has a temper to match Kate's any day. The result of these personalities is that you care about them and that draws you into the story. There are times you'll want to hug Kate and tell her everything will be alright, then you'll want to slap her on the head and ask her what's wrong with her.

An added treat in this book is Ireland itself. Sweeney's descriptions will have you hearing the lilt in the people's voices, and the beauty of the Irish landscape comes pouring off of the pages. If it doesn't have you ready to make reservations for a visit, you haven't been paying attention.

A Nice Clean Murder is a nice clean book. The mystery will keep you guessing until the end and something happens that you won't see coming. The characters are appealing and it has a great setting. It's definitely one worth reading.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Borderline
Author: Linda Crist
ISBN: 1-932300-62-8
Publisher: Regal Crest (Yellow Rose)
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $21.95
Pages: 323
Genre: Fiction/Lesbian Romance





Borderline continues the story of Texas sweethearts Kennedy Shea Nocona and Carson Garrett begun in The Bluest Eyes in Texas. This offering by Linda Crist is a nominee for the 2007 Golden Crown Literary Society Award in the Romance category.

Kennedy and Carson have settled into their lives together in Kennedy's Austin abode. The sex is hot and the relationship is comfortable, but Carson is still working through issues brought about by her traumatic experiences of being kidnapped and drugged in The Bluest Eyes in Texas, as well as coming to terms with the intensity of her relationship with Kennedy. Grief over the loss of her mother still plagues her as well.

As Thanksgiving rolls around, Kennedy takes Carson home to visit her family, where Carson meets her parents and spends time with Kennedy's older brother and his family, including Kennedy's young niece who idolizes her "Auntie Shea" and may well be following in her footsteps in more ways than one.

Carson grapples with her own insecurity about being accepted by her lover's parents and Kennedy's past comes back to haunt her when the two women visit an old hangout called Armadillo Flats. An encounter with two sleazy drug dealers from Kennedy's former life proves to be the young lawyer's undoing.

This story is full of emotional highs and lows, as we follow the couple and learn that they are very much in love and amazingly in "sync." However, there are strange goings-on in Big Bend, where the women have gone for a holiday hike and some quality time together. Just when they are coming to realize how deep their bond is, the trouble begins. The couple encounters a boat full of illegal aliens bound to cross the Texas-Mexico borderline, and witnessing the craft leaves Kennedy and Carson struggling from a brush with death. This terrifying event proves to be only the beginning of a spiraling downward path that the two women might not be able to stop. Everyone wonders who wants them dead--and what Kennedy's younger brother has to do with the goings-on in the park.

Crist has given us a page-turner, both for the intense love scenes that she has beautifully written, and for the dramatic turns drawn with masterful suspense. The theme of family is strong within this story as the two women discover what the ties really mean that bind Kennedy to her own family, to Carson, and to the tentative family the women themselves seem to be forming. Of course, this new family can only flourish if the women can survive their holiday and escape the clutches of those who seem determined to destroy them.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Gold Mountain
Author: Anne Azel
ISBN: 1933720042
Publisher: P.D. Publishing, Inc.,
Available From: PD Publishing, Inc.,
Price: $13.99
Pages: 124
Genre: Lesbian Romance

Anne Azel has deftly blended the Chinese and Canadian cultures in her novel, Gold Mountain. The title is a derivative of the phrase, Golden Mountain, which the Chinese called the New World during the 1800s. Many wanted to arrive, become wealthy, and eventually return to their homeland. It is with this motivation in mind that Jimmy Li decides to work hard and amass his fortune. In Jimmy's world all that is lacking is a son to inherit and carry on the lucrative family business. To achieve this, Jimmy adopts a boy, Jason, whom he dotes upon and indulges constantly, much to the detriment of his two daughters, Kelly and Sarah.

However, despite her father's egregious preference, Kelly manages to forge ahead, obtain her law degree, and become an accomplished defense attorney. It is during a case that Kelly meets Jane Anderson, a police officer, and as their paths continue to intersect, their attraction for each other strengthens. Family obligations guide each of these women as they begin a journey that no one could have foreseen.

This is a rather brief novel, when compared to some, and there are those who may find this off-putting. However, this reviewer suspects that Azel may have employed this more condensed style for a reason. The minimalist approach in word and action could be related to the Chinese influence. Whatever the purpose, Azel manages to tell a story which both intrigues and holds the reader's interest. Sometimes less is best, and Azel proves this through her literary stylistic prose. An author writes the book within her, and some readers fail to recognize this when they wish a novel could be more what they want.

Azel manages quite admirably to navigate between the two distinct points of view; that in itself is no easy task. The motivations of both Kelly and Jane are finely drawn. The serpentine intricacies of the Chinese culture and its values captivate and enlighten the reader. Jane's reactions to the many situations are extremely credible. The author's dialogue is written with purpose and illumination. Extensive detail may be missing, but not to the detriment of the overall piece.

Gold Mountain is an enjoyable reading experience. Azel's astute and extensive comprehension of both cultures adds to the plausibility of the plotting. Carefully chosen diction conveys more in a few sentences than many authors achieve in paragraphs. For something different and quite memorable, read Gold Mountain.
Reviewed by Arlene Germain

Title: Learning to Trust
Author: J. Y. Morgan
ISBN: 9781932300598
Publisher: Yellow Rose Books
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $17.95
Pages: 237
Genre: Romance

How often do you put yourself out there and trust that someone will not hurt you? How much hurt is acceptable before you finally say enough is enough, never again? When is it OK to decide that living your life alone and not trusting someone else with your emotions is the way you should go? That is the premise at the heart of Learning to Trust.

Jace Xanthos is a highly respected college administrator, but her private life isn't very successful. Though she has close friends, Jace has never allowed herself to become involved with anyone romantically. She claims it's because she's been busy building a career, but the truth goes back to her childhood and the cruelest of possible rejections. Jace has taught herself that the best way to keep from being hurt emotionally is to just not trust anyone.

Taryn Murphy, the new graduate assistant, has been hurt also, but she buries her feelings in superficial relationships and anger. They are brought together by Taryn's aunt who is Jace's best friend and assistant, so they can't help but find their personal and professional lives start to entwine. As they interact with Anne's family, they discover a mutual attraction, which it appears that neither of them wants nor believes in. They are crippled in their interactions because each one refuses to believe what the other one says or does. When people cannot trust, it's easy to misunderstand situations and this is a problem between Jace and Taryn. They battle constantly to find common ground for a professional relationship, a friendship and maybe, if they can finally open up to each other, something more.

Morgan has crafted a story about two women who are struggling. She creates realistic situations and has her characters respond in ways that most people can relate to. She lets her story build and isn't afraid to cast her characters in a negative light at times. Even good people don't always behave properly, that's life, and they have to figure out how to clean up the messes that they've made.

Morgan lets her story unfold gradually. Jace and Taryn don't have an immediate friendship. That would be difficult when the first time Jace encounters Taryn she hears herself described in a phone conversation as the "old dragon." How many of us have been on the receiving end of just such a situation where the other person doesn't know we've heard them speaking? Or worse yet, how many of us have said something like this only to suddenly be confronted by the person we were talking about? Knowing how you dealt with the situation will cause you to understand what happens between these two and draws you into the story. At times you will become exasperated with both of them, but again it's that realistic touch that makes this story worth reading. Not everything is perfect in the book. Jace has a surprising secret that is somewhat improbable, but acceptable. For the most part however, these characters feel genuine and so does how they respond to each other.

Learning to Trust is a book that most people can relate to. We've been there.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Madame Aurora
Author: Sarah Aldridge
ISBN: 0-930044-44-4
Publisher: A&M Books (originally from Naiad)
Distributed by A&M Books (
Price: $12.95
Pages: 248
Genre: Romance/Lesbian

In her sixth novel, lesbian fiction icon Sarah Aldridge takes us back in time once again with Madame Aurora. Turn-of-the-century stories are Aldridges' forte and this one doesn't disappoint.

The story opens at the dawn of the New Year, 1897. Hannah tends Elizabeth, suffering from an undisclosed illness. As she does, she struggles with her growing frustration at not being able to provide a better place to live and healthier meals for her aging partner. Out of this frustration, Hannah hatches a plan. Blest with some measure of psychic insight all her life, she decides to become "Madame Aurora," using her ability to garner much-needed income.

In vivid flashbacks we learn how the two women came together some thirty years before and how they've lived their lives since. Elizabeth and Hannah were both teachers. In fact, that is how they met. Once they took up their living arrangements in a girls' seminary cottage as housemothers, they remained together for the rest of their lives, although they did not remain teachers.

Soon after Elizabeth published a book on twelfth century "strolling singers" after years of research, controversy surrounded the scholarly woman. Because of it, her contract was not renewed at the seminary where she taught, and much to the school officials' surprise, Hannah handed in her resignation and left with Elizabeth. In the years following, Elizabeth made a living through speaking engagements and Hannah took on menial work to support them--finally becoming the couple's sole support when deafness overtook Elizabeth and she could no longer lecture.

Now, with Hannah's new persona of Madame Aurora, she begins to take on those who consult her for her ability to advise them about future ventures. Among those who are intrigued with Madam Aurora is a wealthy matron, Mrs. Head, whose husband is a notorious silver baron with a reputation for ruthlessness. The Colonel, as he is known, is in failing health and has locked himself away in his rooms. His wife, out of concern for him, asks Madame Aurora to go to him to see if she can be of some comfort. She does, and the two begin a relationship that is more like that of fencing partners than of friends.

In a parallel subplot, we meet Eleanor (Nell), an independent young woman, who is a librarian at the newly opened Library of Congress. Nell, and another young woman named Daisy, we discover, are in a non-platonic relationship of their own. Daisy is Mrs. Head's niece, who lives in the Head mansion. As the lives of these four unconventional women criss-cross, we find them involved in controversy involving the Heads. There is danger and intrigue--and Hannah must keep Elizabeth safe.

Among the plot and subplots, there are discussions about the Suffrage Movement and the future of women and their independence. The reader will find a real appreciation for the women who were responsible for getting the vote and helping to bring the Victorian age to a close. This is Aldridge's finest story yet, with well-developed characters and a plot that draws the reader in fully. This is a great read for lovers of historical fiction.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Night Vision: A Jane Lawless Mystery
Author: Ellen Hart
ISBN: 0312349440
Publisher: St Martin's Minotaur
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $24.95
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/mystery

Night Vision by Ellen Hart is another engaging entry in the Jane Lawless mystery series. This 14th novel featuring the amiable restaurateur and amateur sleuth is every bit as inventive and entertaining as readers have come to expect from this superior mystery author.

An old friend of Jane's has agreed to star in Cordelia Thorn's latest Allen Grimby Repertory Theater production, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Joanna Kasimir has achieved fame, fortune, and Hollywood movie star status, but she has also paid a price for rising to the top of the entertainment business. Almost ten years ago, she sent her ex-husband, Gordon Luberman, to prison for stalking her. As she is about to leave for her trip to Minnesota, she receives a harrowing reminder of his nefarious harassment, a bouquet of roses.

Also arriving in the Twin Cities and on Jane's doorstep is David Carlson, Joanna's brother who is also Jane's best friend from her high school days. He appears to have some extra baggage that he isn't willing to immediately reveal to Jane. Making matters even more confounding is the unsettling fact that Joanna and David have been estranged the past year, and David does not relish the idea of having to see her.

Sprinkle the plot with an unexpected corpse, a private detective eager to have Jane's assistance, the usual commotion involved with any Cordelia Thorn extravaganza, and several more circuitous storylines, and you have not only an incredibly enjoyable reading experience but also another classic whodunit in the witty and revelatory Hart style. Night Vision glides facilely back and forth between the action of the moment and the back story of Joanna and Gordon. In many ways, the latter plot element could have stood alone as a novel.

As always, Hart's mysteries revolve around the characters and their disparate relationships. The presence of Cordelia Thorn continues to add to the continuity of character. Cordelia Thorn has an intrinsic function in these novels because she provides not only the steadfast friend, the comic relief and witty retort but also the sounding board for Jane as she sifts through the clues which will ultimately solve the mystery.

On the other hand, Jane's long distance relationship with Kenzie Mullroy is put on the back burner in this episode which was regrettable for this reviewer. However, perhaps in the next Jane Lawless installment, the author will choose to offer more elaboration. Hart has a gift for creating secondary characters that are not always as they appear to be. The elements of surprise and discovery are essential if one is to captivate the reader.

Ellen Hart's Night Vision is another superb mystery that will not disappoint her legion of fans. A rather common dilemma, stalkers, is given an original and unique take in this book. This reviewer is always concerned with the manner in which an author resolves the conflicts in a mystery. In a Hart novel the inevitable resolution is always consistently logical and thorough, never contrived or artificial. Night Vision is a well-crafted story with appealing protagonists and believable malevolent antagonists. There is also an unexpected twist at the end which readers will find tantalizing. Now bring on the next in the series.
Reviewed by Arlene Germain

Title: October Echoes 2nd Edition
Author: Roselle Graskey
ISBN: 1933720050
Publisher: PD Publishing,
Available From: PD Publishing,
Price: $14.99
Pages: 160 pages
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Action/Romance

Roselle Graskey has another winner with her second edition of October Echoes. It is a crisply written, fast paced novel with storytelling that is original and solid.

FBI Agent Sara Pierson is forced to hook up with IRA terrorist Nora de Burgh because it seems that she is the only person who can help Sara find the son of a diplomat who has been kidnapped. Teaming up with Nora has its difficulties though because she is incarcerated in a US prison and cannot openly aid Sara without endangering her life. So Sara assists Nora in escaping from prison, and they go under deep cover. This unlikely alliance works because Graskey makes it believable with convincing dialogue and action. There is an uneasy truce between the two characters and an underlying tension that is exquisite.

In October Echoes, the action takes center stage and the love story plays a strong supporting role. As readers we can guess some of what will happen as the deadly game unfolds, but much of the plot is unexpected. By the end of the book, we can't distinguish the bad guys from the good guys, but you'll just have to read this fascinating and different story to discover that for yourself.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: Pink
Author: Jennifer Harris
ISBN: 1-56023-629-9
Publisher: Haworth Press (Alice Street Editions)
Distributed by Haworth Press (
Price: $10.95
Pages: 161
Genre: Fiction/Lesbian

Point of view is always an interesting thing in fiction. Pink is written in the first person from the perspective of a young woman who fantasizes into the future. This clever viewpoint makes a fascinating story perspective as in paragraph after paragraph the narrator lulls us into her future with the mantra "The book I will write will…" The narrator's chanting turns her fantasy into reality and soon the reader will forget the future tense scattered throughout the story like so many magic beans.

Jennifer Harris has given us a charming and quirky pink tale, filled with multiple Henrys who hover around Steven Spielburg as he makes the book called Pink into a movie. There's an editor named Nancy, who, we are told, is male. The world of Pink seems all sweetness and blush, but it starts to turn topsy-turvy, giving us that "oh-oh" feeling with snippets of information from her past that are not as perfectly pink as they seem. The mantra draws us on with the promise that this flight of fantastic accomplishment might become reality--that the book that the narrator will write will be published, will be successful, and will be made into a movie--making her life perfect Pink. But as we continue turning pages, the rosy future of the narrator surreptitiously clouds as traumas, wrapped in family history, are revealed--tied with a bow of insecurity.

Yet interwoven with this is the happy prediction that the narrator will meet the girl of her dreams who will be both lover and rescuer. This woman, who has not been kind to her in the past, will become healer and protector once she recognizes the narrator's perfect talent. Her new lover will be the one that keeps the darkness at bay and the rose-color glowing-all because of the book called Pink.

Many would-be authors have probably chanted their fantasy about the book they will write, but none have been as innovative as Harris, actually turning that mantra into a novel. For something different--something both fascinating and entertaining--read the story of Pink. It is both charming and alluring, giving pause for thought and reason to hope.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Snow Moon Rising
Author: Lori L. Lake
ISBN: 9781932300505
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $20.95
Pages: 346
Genre: Historical Fiction--20th Century

WARNING - If you are interested in this book because you are looking for a lesbian romance to read, this is not the Lori Lake book for you. And, if you let that be the reason you don't read it, you will be the poorer for it. Lake has crafted an epic work that deals with one of the most tragic periods in recent times, yet there is a warmth to the story that keeps it from being heavy handed or depressing.

Mischka Gallo is a member of a Roma troupe that is traveling through Poland and Germany in the closing years of World War I when the story opens. The Roma are a despised minority that suffer from stereotypes and prejudice from people who call them "Gypsies." Inside the troupe however is a loving environment of family members and friends who care for each other deeply and live by the code of an ancient culture.

Into this stumbles Emil, a shell-shocked German soldier who has run from battle and wants nothing more than to put the killing behind him. As Emil is welcomed into the group he begins to learn how misunderstood these people are and he adopts this new lifestyle. Eventually, Emil introduces Mischka to his sister Pauline "Pippi" Stanek. Thus begins a friendship that will see the women through the rest of their lives. They know that they share a connection that isn't broken even when there are long separations.

Eventually, the world of the Roma is torn to pieces with the onset of World War II and the arrival of the perverted theories and practices of the Nazis. Mischka will end up in a forced labor camp as a prisoner where she is reunited with Pippi who has been ordered to report there as a supervisor. The women will struggle to survive and defeat the brutality of their captors in any way they can. The end of the war will find them separated again until they reunite years later in the US and discover that their relationship may be one of much more than friendship.

Lake has done a masterful job in creating the atmospheres of the different periods in the book. The life in the Roma camp is warm and funny, with strong friendships and passionate loves. Lake paints a terrific picture of Roma culture for anyone who is not familiar with it. The most wrenching scenes come when Mischka is captured by the Nazis, shipped in a crowded railroad car to the work camp and then experiences the events in the camp. For anyone who is not familiar with what happened in these places, the descriptions are harrowing and accurate. Lake's attention to detail makes this book rich with information. Yet the book is not heavy handed or depressing. There are sad scenes, but the warmth of the people and the strength of the relationship between Mischka and Pippi carries the reader past those.

This is not a "typical" lesbian novel. There are no passionate love scenes or women chasing after each other. There hasn't been a lot of talk about the book on the lesbian fiction sites and that's unfortunate. People are missing an excellent opportunity if they are skipping over this book. This is a story of family, friendship, tradition and the evil that humans can do to each other. While the reader enjoys a good story, there is also a great history lesson being taught. That's the best way to do it. Snow Moon Rising should be on everyone's must read list.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Snow Moon Rising
Author: Lori L. Lake
ISBN: 9781932300505
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $20.95
Pages: 346
Genre: Historical Fiction--20th Century

Mischka Gallo is a Roma girl traveling with her people through Germany and Poland in late 1918 just prior to the end of World War I. She and her group have learned to disregard the pejorative, Gypsy, which often is hurled their way, and live their unassuming life with malice toward no one. One evening an AWOL and shell-shocked German soldier, Emil Stanek, stumbles upon the group. Soon he is adopted by the clan, and he eventually marries Drina, a Roma woman. At the wedding, Mischka meets Emil's sister Pippi, and they soon become fast friends. Unfortunately, the Roma vagabond lifestyle allows only infrequent visits. And, sadly, unbeknownst to either girl, future personal and world events will provide them both with even greater hurdles to be overcome and challenges to be met Theirs is an adventure and a journey that the reader will discover to be innocent, harrowing, heartbreaking, yet ultimately uplifting and re-affirming.

Snow Moon Rising is a consummate work of literary fiction. With her latest novel, Lori L. Lake succeeds in breaking through the glass ceiling of lesbian fiction and enters the realm of mainstream literature. She has crafted a period piece of such authenticity that any aficionado of the two post-World War periods will certainly be impressed with the meticulous attention to detail attained through extensive and exhaustive research. The inclusion of the German and Romany languages in the narrative and dialogue, the ancillary index of the Roma moon cycles, and a Select Bibliography section further indicate the unequivocal desire for accuracy that the author has invested in her writing.

Among the many laudable qualities to be found in this novel, the one element with which this reviewer is most impressed is the bookend structure of narrative that Lake chose to convey her story. This form has a large dominant section, which usually encompasses the bulk of the work, which is then sandwiched between two smaller sections that introduce and conclude the work. The opening scene introduces the main protagonist, Mischka, an eighty year-old woman talking to her fifteen year-old grandson, Tobar. The year is 1989 in November. The concluding scenes return to that same time frame. The fact that this character is telling a story serves to enhance the overall storytelling of the author.

Superlative editing is evident throughout this lengthy work; both the substantive and line editors have served this author well. Rich narrative is tightly composed, yet expansive when the plot requires it. The imagery used is both original and evocative. As a result of Lake's adept combination of understated yet powerful expression, scenes from the slave labor camp are intensely memorable. The heartbreak, terror, and sense of despair and desolation are all captured through the masterful and precise selection of word choice and the accomplished turning of a phrase. Equally true is the presentation of the indefatigability, courage, and love within the Roma culture, and in particular, Mischka and her familial relationships as well as her commitment to Pippi.

Snow Moon Rising is a novel that entertains, enlightens, and affects the reader long after the last page is read. The book has been nominated for the Lambda Literary Foundation award for Lesbian Fiction and for the Golden Crown Literary Society award for Lesbian Dramatic General Fiction. Lake has created a level of expertise and accomplishment with this novel seldom seen by this reviewer when evaluating other fiction. She has definitely raised the bar for the quality of writing which, hopefully, more authors will strive to attain.

Snow Moon Rising is an experience not to be missed. It offers readers an unforgettable heroine in Mischka Gallo who transcends the most depraved and despicable adversities humankind can inflict upon one another while never losing her own innate sense of decency, love, and loyalty. Both Mischka and Lake have accomplished something remarkable, and they have done it with grace.
Reviewed by Arlene Germain

Title: Stellium in Scorpio
Author: Andrews & Austin
ISBN: 1933110651
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc.,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 Pages: 235
Genre: Lesbian/Mystery

Teague Richfield, a screenwriter from Los Angeles, is on her way to the Desert Star Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and what she hopes will be a fortuitous and sizzling reunion with Callie Rivers. However, Callie, the beautiful astrologer and psychic, has other pressing concerns on her mind. There are strange happenings occurring at the Desert Star. A Vegas showgirl has made "the list," nefarious types have infiltrated the ranks of theater performers and staff, and Callie just has that feeling that things are just going to get worse.

Appealing lead characters that possess wit and intelligence drive this novel. The dialogue is smart, humorous, and realistically expressed. The authors' experience with professional screenwriting is most evident in the conversational instances. These spoken sequences successfully drive the plot forward. Dialogue is too often given short shrift by some writers. Perhaps they fail to see the deep and irrefutable connection between that and character development. Andrews & Austin recognize that connection and move easily from the humorous and wry comments to the more sobering and thoughtful, all the while revealing the different layers of their characters. Sharp and witty banter is difficult to achieve without becoming annoyingly obvious and contrived. This novel displays a well-crafted technique and an innate ability to succeed in this goal.

Timing is an important factor when trying to create that suspension of disbelief so vital to a credible storyline. This novel is fast-paced and transitions quite easily without confusing the reader or leaving any unanswered questions within the plot. Chapter endings flow easily into the next and create that necessary suspense and anticipation so essential with this particular genre. Stellium in Scorpio is a novel that can be easily read in one sitting, yet there is substance here and noticeably clever storytelling.

There are countless mysteries out there from which to select and spend that hard-earned dollar. If the reader is looking for a well-written, intelligent, and thoroughly enjoyable one, Stellium in Scorpio is for you. Richfield and Rivers make a wonderful couple who experience the various ups and downs of life with a sense of humor, affection, patience…and an astrology chart.
Reviewed by Arlene Germain

Title: The Choice
Author: Maria V. Ciletti
ISBN: 1-56023-638-8
Publisher: Haworth Press (Alice Street Editions)
Distributed by Haworth Press (
Price: $16.95
Pages: 209
Genre: Fiction/Lesbian

The Choice is a novel of both struggle and love. When Mina Thomas recognizes that her life with her husband, Sean, doesn't bring her the happiness and fulfillment she thought it would, she begins to realize that her inclinations may lean toward an attraction to women. This is especially true in the case of Regan Martin, a young nurse who joins Mina on the floor of the nursing home where Mina cares for patients, some of whom are very colorful. As the two nurses are drawn closer and closer, Mina comes to full realization of who she really is and must confront her future by deciding how she will live it.

Mina's husband Sean, a police officer, is sent to a neighboring city to teach a course, allowing Regan and Mina to spend long days together basking in each other's friendship. However, as time goes on, both women are more and more attracted to one another, and eventually a passionate love affair blossoms. The affair is complicated by Regan's inability to come to terms with her own sexuality while Mina is quickly comfortable and relieved when she realizes who she is. The difficulty comes when Mina is forced to make choices that are painful to her and others because of her new-found life.

Sean threatens not only to stand in the way of Mina's chance for love, but also may be a threat to his own wife because of his jealousy and pain. In addition, Mina is forced to deal with her mother, a woman who Mina is convinced will never be able to understand that her happiness lies somewhere other than in Sean's arms. The choices that Mina makes are both heart-rending and uplifting.

When Mina finds that Regan is not as committed to their relationship as she thought she was, she turns to a woman whose mother is a patient in the nursing home for friendship and support. To complicate the situation, the woman is Sean's partner on the police force-and she's a lesbian. As Mina struggles to make her final decision about her life, the reader can only hope that she will make the right choice.

Ciletti has given us well drawn characters and a story that comes from the heart. It is easy to see the challenges and difficulties that everyone involved in The Choice faces and the reader will easily empathize with all of them. Ciletti's writing style is easy to read and story will stay with you long after it's finished.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: When Dreams Tremble
Author: Radclyffe
ISBN: 1-933110-64-3
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc.,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 Pages: 272 pages
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Romance

The cover of When Dreams Tremble by Radclyffe is absolutely stunning, the entire presentation of the book is fetching, but what's inside enhances the total package even more. Radclyffe's stories always illuminate the journey each character takes, and this book is no exception. This focus on character development is meticulous and comprehensive, filled with angst, regret, and longing, building to the ultimate climax. High emotion is always present so that the reader gets swept away with the characters and becomes one with the book. These are the elements that completely absorb us with When Dreams Tremble.

In When Dreams Tremble, high powered Manhattan corporate attorney Leslie Harris returns home for some respite after a health scare. Home is upstate New York on Lake George where her parents own a resort. Relations with everyone are strained but none more so than with her childhood friend Dr. Devon Weber who is staying at her family's resort doing environmental research on the lake. So much has changed. The last time Dev and Leslie were together in high school, so much went wrong. With so much regret and sorrow between the two of them, can they reconcile their past?

As the story progresses, Radclyffe presents the characters' inner thoughts and feelings along with revealing dialogue and descriptions of their body language. We get a very thorough picture of each character and see the internal battles and how that motivates their behavior in relation to others. The author engages all of our senses, and we are alert and active participants. We are rooting for Leslie and Dev to heal and to heal together because the pain these two women feel for their lost youth emanates from the pages and is heart wrenching.

Issues from the past, how they shape our lives, how we move on and grow from them, and how we cope when confronted with them, these are the themes in When Dreams Tremble. The characters exemplify the pain of coming out when you are young and isolated, and the loneliness and cruelty that can accompany it. The author exposes the guilt of the past that Leslie carries with her because she did not do what she considers the "right" thing, and we see her struggle with this dilemma of unrealistic expectations from her immature and young teen years.

Many of Radclyffe's romances are about second chances and that includes When Dreams Tremble. She gives us a bonus by adding spectacular and peaceful images of the way of life in a resort setting. This book is a perfect romance in every way, but in the end, Radclyffe surprises us with a very different ending. I liked it and so will you.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: When Dreams Tremble
Author: Radclyffe
ISBN: 1-933110-64-3
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc.,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 Pages: 272 pages
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Romance

Radclyffe, one of today's most prolific authors of the lesbian Romance genre, has written her twenty-fifth book, a stand-alone novel entitled When Dreams Tremble. It is bound to satisfy her legion of fans, and for those who have yet to experience her writing, this is perhaps, a good opportunity to discover this best-selling writer.

The setting is the Lake George area in New York. Successful Manhattan corporate lawyer, Leslie Harris, has returned to her family's upstate lakeside resort after receiving some unsettling health-related news. Also, in the area is Dr. Devon Weber, the former town bad girl, who went to high school with Leslie and with whom she shares a rather secretive past. Devon is now an environmental biologist conducting some research of the lake. When unexpectedly asked by Leslie's mother to pick up her daughter at the train station, Devon agrees. Fifteen years have passed when last they were together so it is with a sense of anticipation and a degree of trepidation that Dev finds herself waiting in the train station parking lot. After all, the last words she heard Leslie say that calamitous night hurt Dev as nothing ever had or would. "…it was a joke! I was just fooling with her. She doesn't mean anything to me. She's nobody!" (p. 36).

There are several basic questions this reviewer considers when evaluating a book. How well the author achieves the answers determines the quality of expression and the level of craft. Does Radclyffe show rather than tell her story? As in other works by the author, When Dreams Tremble manages to create a setting so vibrant and distinct that it transports the reader to that time and place. Does the introduction grab the reader? The opening scenes clearly delineate the persona of Leslie, at least the façade she puts forth in the world. The courtroom action and aftermath engage the reader from the outset creating that anticipation needed to keep turning the pages. Are there basic truths to be found within the chapters? Radclyffe writes about the causes and effects of disappointment, heartbreak, and regret, while at the same time exploring, through convincing characterization, the implications and ramifications of culpability, remorse, and contrition.

As for the romance genre, When Dreams Tremble is a notable example of the genre and well worth the reader's time. The use of the flashback technique expands the plot development giving it that story within a story aspect. The usual Radclyffe fireworks take more than the usual time to ignite; however, this reviewer found it to be a surprising and refreshing departure from past works. When Dreams Tremble is a commendable addition to the Romance genre.
Reviewed by Arlene Germain

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
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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.

Andrews (of Andrews & Austin)
Andrews was a radio broadcaster in NYC before leaving to become Creative VP of the largest ad agency in the southeast. She later joined one of the most extensive movie studio conglomerates in the world, where she managed a division of network programming. After forming her own production company, she spent a decade in Hollywood developing and writing screenplays for studios and independents before joining an international entertainment and publishing powerhouse as a division president overseeing television production. Andrews is an accomplished writer, producer, and public speaker.

Austin (of Andrews & Austin)
Austin is a talented Writer/Producer, a former on-air talent, and co-founder of a Hollywood production company. She has served as a segment producer for network specials and animated sports programming and has developed and optioned Movies of the Week and Theatricals for studios, networks, and independents. Prior to owning her own production company, Austin was the co-producer and on-air host of a shopping network. Austin is also a gifted astrologer and psychic.

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 has had wonderful experiences, many of which are reflected in her stories. "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 is now retired (although those who know her swear this will never happen!) and lives in the north she loves, enjoying canoeing, painting, and forensic anthropology. Her plans are to continue travelling and enjoying life to the full. As her grandfather once said: "It doesn't matter when you go as long as you go with a smile on your face and a pocket full of good memories."

Maria V. Ciletti
Maria V. Ciletti is a registered nurse currently working as a medical administrator and is the president and owner of MVC Medical Consultants in Niles, Ohio. She writes nonfiction medical articles, short stories, and literary fiction, as well as gay/lesbian fiction. The Choice is her first novel. She is currently working on a sequel.

Linda Crist
Linda was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, has also lived in Nacogdoches, Port Aransas, and Austin, and is now back in Dallas, where she lives with two spoiled rotten cats. Linda is on the Orlando BardCon staff, and has also written some episodes for the Xena Subtext Virtual Season. Her first novel, The Bluest Eyes in Texas, made the Open Book's top ten best-selling list for 2002 and spent several months on the top twenty list at Libertas in the U.K. After Bluest Eyes, Linda went on to publish her second novel, Galveston 1900: Swept Away, which was named one of the top ten lesbians novels of 2005 in San Francisco's East Bay Voice, was a finalist for a 2006 Goldie Award, and was the July 2006 selection for the Dallas Border's Lesbian Book Club. She has contributed short stories to two charity anthologies, At First Blush, and Telltale Kisses.

Roselle Graskey
Roselle was born in Virginia but got to Texas as soon as those little feet would allow. Currently living in Dallas, she shares her life with family, friends, and more than a handful of animals. She is a veteran of the U.S. Army, having served as a Military Police Officer in Cold War Germany and later as Supply Specialist during the Persian Gulf War. Part Irish and part Comanche, she is always searching for more of her culture.

Her interests range from rock climbing, Celtic music, Far Side comics, writing (which she has been doing since age 5 or so: she does not count years of crayon scribbling), and watching hockey either on the tube or in person. Roselle's first published novel is entitled October Echoes (ISBN: 1-930928-35-1, out of print). You can find her personal webpage at

Jennifer Harris
Jennifer Harris's poetry has been published in several national magazines. She founded and directed a three-year reading series at The Art Institute of Chicago, and during that same time founded and edited a small literary magazine called JackLeg Press. Jennifer is a past finalist in FourWay Books national book contest, and she was recognized by The Poetry Center of Chicago in their Emerging Young Poets Series. She completed her MFA in writing at the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago.

Ellen Hart
Ellen Hart is the author of twenty-two crime novels in two different series: The Jane Lawless Mysteries, published by St. Martin's, and the Sophie Greenway Mysteries published by Ballantine. Ellen's novels have received five Lambda Literary Awards for Best Lesbian Mystery, three Minnesota Book Awards for Best Popular Fiction, and two Golden Crown Literary Society Goldie Awards for Best Mystery/ Thriller/Adventure. In 2005, Ellen was made an official "GLBT Literary Saint" at the Saints and Sinners Literary convention in New Orleans. She was also honored with the 2005 Alice B. Reader's Appreciation Medal, a career achievement award. For the past eleven years she has taught mystery writing through the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

Lori L. Lake
Lori L. Lake is the author of six novels, a book of short stories, and the editor of two anthologies. She is a 2007 recipient of the Alice B. Reader Appreciation Award, and in addition to a 2005 Lambda Literary Finalist in the anthology category, Lori has been the recipient of nine Stonewall Society Literary Awards. Have Gun We'll Travel was a 2006 Golden Crown Literary Award Finalist, and the readers of Lavender Magazine have twice named her Twin Cities OutStanding GLBT Author.

Lori lives south of the Twin Cities and teaches fiction-writing courses at The Loft Literary Center. Lori also presents seminars and workshops on writing topics such as character building, plot, the writing process, the writing life, mystery structure, and form and structure in the modern novel. She is currently at work on her next novel and very much likes to hear from her readers. You may write her at For more information, see her website at

J. Y. Morgan
J. Y. Morgan is a transplanted English woman who lives in New England with her partner. She enjoys reading lesbian fiction, working in her garden and hanging out with her friends. Her next novel is going to be Download, tentatively scheduled for September 2007. She can be reached at her email, , or at her Web site: .

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.

Kate Sweeney
Kate Sweeney was born in Chicago and still lives in Illinois. She Waits (Intaglio; 2006) was the first book in the Kate Ryan Mysteries and now is followed by A Nice Clean Murder. Sweeney also has written short stories, other novels and novellas, including a short story that appears in Wild Nights, a Bella After Dark anthology published by Bella Books. You can contact her at her Web site at
or at her email