March 2008
SCP      Please help support Just About Write
by purchasing your books through the
StarCrossed Productions
links on our pages. Thank you, wholeheartedly.

Title: Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders
Author: Alicia Gaspar de Alba
ISBN: 9781558855083
Publisher: Arte Publico Press
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $16.95
Pages: 341
Genre: Murder Mystery

The sad fact is that the stories that should receive the most coverage in the news often go practically ignored. Since 1993 an atrocity has been going on at the US-Mexican border that has left hundreds of women raped, mutilated and dead while very little has been done to solve the crimes and stop whoever is behind them. One uncomfortable accusation is that this situation has probably been ignored because the women have been predominantly Latino. This is the setting that Gaspar de Alba has chosen for her Lambda Award winning novel Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders.

Ivon Villa returns to her hometown El Paso to adopt a baby. She and her partner Brigit are ready to start a family and there are many young girls along the border who have children they cannot take care of. Coming home is difficult for Ivon because of strained family relations, but her cousin is a social worker who can expedite the process, so it seems ideal. While flying in, she reads a magazine article about the numbers of young women who are being killed but assumes it has nothing to do with her until Cecilia, the pregnant woman who was going to give them her baby, is hideously murdered just a few days short of giving birth and the baby is killed with her. Ivon is disturbed to discover that the authorities on both sides of the border are not just reluctant to solve the crime, but may be involved in helping to cover it up.

While she is trying to find evidence of what happened to Cecilia, Ivon's younger sister Irene is kidnapped and disappears in Mexico. From what she has already learned, Ivon knows that Irene must be found as soon as possible if she's to be found alive. When the Mexican and American police prove less than helpful, Ivon decides to find her sister herself. She finds herself confronting corrupt border officials, indifferent politicians, people on the lower ranks of society, the families and friends of the women who have already disappeared and members of her family who are divided in thinking that Ivon's lifestyle has caused this tragedy to fall on them. Ivon eventually discovers that trying to save her sister's life may cost her own.

Desert Blood tells a gripping story that is given more impact by knowing that it's based on true events. It builds at a pace that leaves the reader feeling the growing terror Ivon experiences as she faces the idea that she may find her sister too late. There is so much to this plot that it almost becomes one of the book's weaknesses. There are three stories that run at once – the disappearances of Irene and the other women, Ivon's quest to adopt a child and her relationship with her family over her lesbianism. The stories of the women would have been enough to make a complete book and the other two strains sometimes distract from that. That could actually be a plus though because the one story is so horrific that the reader needs some release time away from it. One irritating aspect of the book is that de Alba includes a lot of comments in Spanish. Given the setting of the book, it's appropriate, but there are no translations for those readers who do not speak the language and the impression is left that parts of the story are being missed or not understood. A glossary of some kind would have been helpful.

The compelling nature of this story makes it a book that should be read. This is not a typical work of lesbian fiction though. Anyone looking for a romance with steamy sex scenes won't find that here, but they will find an extremely well written novel and an issue that will move them to anger.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Heart 2 Heart
Author: Julie Cannon
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Available from: StarCrossed Productions,; Bold Strokes Books,; Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 Pages: 227 pages
Genre: Romance





Julie Cannon has given her readers a very modern romance set in the beach city of La Jolla, Ca. Detective Kyle Bain lost her identical twin sister a year ago. Allie died of a brain aneurysm after giving birth to a baby girl. Her death left Kyle with a child to raise, and feeling as though a part of her own body had been ripped away. Since Allie's death, Kyle has devoted herself to her work and her daughter.

Lane Conner almost died a year ago when she contracted a virus which attacked her heart. While she was receiving a heart transplant, her lover of eight years moved out of their house, taking all of the furniture with her. Lane has spent the year regaining her strength and running her popular restaurant.

Lane and Kyle tentatively begin dating, each taking baby steps as they explore their mutual attraction. Kyle is afraid that she comes with too much baggage, and Lane feels physically and emotionally scarred by her experience. As their relationship develops, they find pleasure in each others minds, humor, and bodies.

Heart 2 Heart has many hot, intense sex scenes; Lane and Kyle sizzle across the pages. It also explores the world of a homicide detective and other very real issues. Cannon has given her readers a read that's fun as well as meaty.
Reviewed by RLynne

Title: In Broad Daylight
Author: Jane Vollbrecht
ISBN: 978-1932300765
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $16.95
Pages: 228
Genre: Lesbian/Romance

In Broad Daylight is a story within a story. The first tale is of two women, one a publisher of lesbian literature and one an aspiring writer of the genre. When the two women meet, Colleen McCrady and Elizabeth Albright are drawn to one another, but each woman comes to the budding relationship with baggage that prevents each from being completely truthful.

Initially, Colleen arrives at Elizabeth’s office to go over a manuscript. Elizabeth critiques Colleen’s work in an effort to foster the new talent, and before sending her off to do her edits, she takes her to lunch and begins the relationship that eventually forces the two women to work through events from their past in order to move forward.

For Elizabeth, it’s an old lover’s actions that haunt her. Once burned in her business dealings by an old flame, Elizabeth keeps her relationship with Colleen a secret from everyone in the office, reasoning that she shouldn’t even be mixing her private life with business. Telling Colleen that she does not want anyone to think she is biased in favor of one writer that she publishes over others only creates frustration and concern for Colleen.

Colleen, for her part, keeps a secret from her distant past, a secret about which she only knows a portion of the story. A secret that makes her feel unworthy of the love and care that Elizabeth gives her, and Colleen is afraid she will lose Elizabeth when she finds out about a secret she doesn’t fully understand herself. In the end, Colleen reveals the story by presenting it to her lover in manuscript form. Elizabeth is puzzled by the story, because it contains no lesbian content and is very different from anything Colleen has ever written before.

As Elizabeth reads, she is transported back to the 1950’s, where prejudice abounds and the story of “Coon Willie” is revealed. Not what he seems, the deaf mute black man comes into the life of a young, impressionable girl and is responsible for saving the family farm, but before the story ends, Willie mysteriously disappears.

This tale transports the reader with Colleen’s manuscript the port key. After reading the story, Elizabeth sets off with Colleen in search of answers to the remaining questions by returning to Colleen’s family home. In an effort to discover the truth about Willie, the women raise other ghosts from Colleen’s past.

At times, the tale Vollbrecht weaves of Willie’s life is hard to take because of the prejudice and injustice portrayed. The harsh reality of life in the south, especially for young black men of the time, is laid bare in Willie’s story. In the end, the reader will be turning pages to find out if the women will ever uncover the truth—about Willie, and about how they will live their own lives together.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: It's All Smoke & Mirrors
Author: Therese Szymanski
ISBN: 9781594931178
Publisher: Bella Books
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; Bella Books,
Price: $13.95 - Pages: 276
Genre: Mystery/Comedy

Therese Szymanski's latest book introduces a new character, Shawn Donnelly, who is a complete departure from her series of books featuring Brett Higgins. Trying to choose a genre for this story immediately brings to mind mystery, comedy, and farce, with all three being appropriate. What is apparent is that this is an extremely original and entertaining creation.

In Greek mythology, Cassandra was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo and then cursed by him when he made sure that no one would believe her. Shawn Donnelly must carry some of Cassandra's genetic material in her blood, with a slight twist. Shawn has inherited a sixth sense from her Irish grandmothers. When things aren't just right and something serious is about to occur, Shawn gets the "itch"; the hairs on the back of her neck are her early warning system.

The problem is that Shawn is the queen of misdirection. She usually figures out "what" is wrong, but she invariably is confused about "who" created the problem. In It's All Smoke & Mirrors, Shawn bumbles her way through three mysteries, sometimes helped by old friends from college, but often hindered by them also. In the first she comes to suspect all of her friends when they are isolated in a mountain cabin and one of them is murdered. The second has Shawn convinced the grisly serial killer who is terrorizing men in the city is working in the cubicle near hers. In the final story, the interactive murder theater that Shawn and her friends are performing in for an audience becomes more realistic than what they rehearsed. As Shawn, who has a pixie-like quality, stumbles around trying to solve the mysteries, she will have the reader wondering, if she was your friend, would you laugh with her or have her committed to an institution?

A frequent comment heard about lesbian fiction is that all of the books tell the same story; that they follow a formula of women falling in love, women face conflict, women make up, with sex scenes thrown in. It's All Smoke & Mirrors definitely doesn't fit the formula. The requisite sex scenes are there, but the stories are fresh and go in directions the reader will not anticipate. At times it's not certain whether a character should be liked or slapped, but they're definitely fun to read about. This book is definitely worth spending a few hours with. Szymanski says she's already working on more adventures for Shawn. That will be something to look forward to.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Learning Curve
Author: Rachel Spangler
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Available from: StarCrossed Productions,; Bold Strokes Books,
Price: $15.95 - Pages: 224
Genre: Romance

Spangler has given her readers two intriguing character whose lives are the antithesis of each other's. Ashton Clarke is a love'em and leave'em kind of gal. She is notorious for her one night stands, and she makes it a point to never visit the same bed twice. A tall, dark and handsome butch, she earns a good living as a "Ms. Fix-it...painting, refinishing, day to day car care." Her weak point is Mary, her best friend and first ex. Mary has guilt-tripped Ash into volunteering at the local gay and lesbian youth center.

Carrie Fletcher teaches women's studies at the local university. She loves planning her lectures and easily loses herself in her work. One year away from tenure, Carrie lives an exemplary life, avoiding any situation that will cause her to "fall prey to the university's moral turpitude clauses." One of her good deeds is volunteer work at the local gay and lesbian youth center.

Spangler's title, Learning Curve, refers to the growth both of these women make, as they deal with attraction and avoidance. They share a mutual lust, but can lust alone surpass their differences? The answer to that question is told with humor, adventure, and heat.
Reviewed by RLynne

Title: New Beginnings
Authors: JM Dragon & Erin O'Reilly
ISBN: 978-1-933113-76-0
Publisher: Intaglio Publications
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $16.95
Pages: 269
Genre: Romantic Adventure

New Beginnings is the story of two sisters who don't know they exist for each other. One was rejected as a child by a woman who was too selfish and immature to keep her. The other was raised by that woman who was distant because she was being haunted by the first secret for many years.

Lauren Walker is at a crossroads in her life. Her career as a doctor doing research on terminal patients isn't as fulfilling as it once was. She would like to be doing more to enjoy life and has retreated to her woodland cabin to think about how that might be accomplished. Maggie Sullivan literally crashes into her life when she tries to canoe down the river near the cabin and finds she can't handle the rapids. The attraction the two feel for each other is immediate, but then threatened when Maggie reveals that she works for a company that is famous for taking small towns and developing them, causing them to lose their unique character. Now the company wants to develop the town that Lauren's family practically owns and Lauren's mother is supporting the idea. As the women struggle to deal with the situation, family secrets are revealed and tragedy follows. Out of the conflict comes the knowedge that Lauren has a sister she has never known about, a sister her mother would now like to find, a sister who has no interest in meeting either of them.

Harriet "Harry" Aristides knows she was abandoned by her parents and left to be raised by an uncle, but it doesn't matter any more. She has made a successful life for herself as CEO of a major pharmaceutical company, which has become her whole life after the deaths in an accident of her partner Abby and the baby they were expecting. Her dedication to developing new drugs leads her to the wilds of Brazil with a very reluctant research scientist Nicky Ralston in tow. Nicky had vowed to never return to that environment after leaving her parents who were field researchers, but she finds she is under Harry's spell and has a growing attraction for the lonely woman. As they struggle through the jungle, Nicky wonders how she is going to explain to Harry that the scientists they are looking for are her parents and what will happen when an even bigger secret that Nicky has been keeping is revealed. The women might have a chance at love if Harry can learn to open herself up and trust again, but what Nicky has to tell her may destroy any chance for that happening.

New Beginnings is an unusual book. It's written almost as if it were two different books stuck together. The stories are barely connected and could easily stand alone. The tones and development of the stories are so different that the reader might wonder if each author wrote a selection; however, O'Reilly and Dragon say this wasn't the case. The first story seems somewhat rushed and in need of some fleshing out. Things just seem to happen too quickly and to be a little too coincidental. The second story makes the book however. The characters of Harriet and Nicky are well developed and the relationship between them proceeds at a logical pace. Their story also provides more opportunity for tension and resolution than the one about Lauren and Maggie. The reader might start the book and consider not completing it, but this is one of those cases when you need to just keep reading. You'll be glad you did because it's quite satisfying at the end.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Piper's Someday
Author: Ruth Perkinson
ISBN: 9781883523879
Publisher: Spinsters Ink
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; Bella Books, www.
Pages: 173 - Price: $14.95
Genre: Fiction

The statement of purpose on Spinsters Ink's web home page contains this sentence: These are the books that recognize our commonality, celebrate our diversity, and honor our strength in the face of adversity. That description certainly applies to Piper's Someday by Ruth Perkinson, which represents another lesbian novel that departs from the standard formula to tell an engaging story.

Piper Cliff has three holes in her heart, one each for her mother, father and brother. The police report says they were killed in a traffic accident, but Piper knows the truth. God took them because she was mean to some kittens. Piper understands the lessons she received in school about cause and effect and believes that is why she lost her loving family and was left to live with her alcoholic, neglectful grandfather. The one bright constant in her twelve-year-old life is her three-legged dog Someday. Someday is her companion, confidant and the only thing in her fairly dismal life that makes the days bearable. Piper can't wait for the day when she turns 18, can get herself a job as a waitress and have her own apartment to share with Someday.

Things begin to look up for both Piper and Someday when two young women move into the apartment complex and offer their friendship. Jenny and Andrea accept Piper and Someday completely as they are and provide an escape for the child and dog to get away from the grandfather and his sleazy friend Clover. When her grandfather tries to turn Piper against her friends because they are lesbians, all she needs to know is that they love her. As time passes, Piper's home situation becomes more dangerous and she discovers that she has friends she didn't realize existed who are determined to help her. Ultimately, Jenny and Andrea will risk everything to save Piper and Someday when the courts and the state of Virginia are not willing to act in their best interests.

Piper's Someday touches on a number of issues from today's society – child neglect and abuse, discrimination against lesbians and gays and the inability of courts and governments to solve many societal problems properly. Piper shouldn't be perceived as a victim though. She's a tough little kid who has learned to survive in terrible conditions and that she is still open to relationships of any kind speaks to the strength of her personality. Someday may only have three good legs, but she has the courage to come to Piper's rescue at one point and possesses an innate understanding of the child.

Overall, however, the book speaks to the definition of "family" and the reality that a genetic relationship to someone may not make them as much your family as the people who love, protect and nurture you. Piper's Someday is an interesting story that will cause you to think while it's entertaining you. It doesn't take long to read, but every moment is worth it.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: The Candidate
Author: Tracey Richardson
ISBN: 9781594931338
Publisher: Bella Books
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; Bella Books,
Price: $13.95 - Pages: 256
Genre: Romance

The Candidate couldn't be more topical or present a more controversial idea in this year of political firsts. What would you do if you were the first serious female candidate for President of the United States and discovered during the campaign that you love a woman?

Jane Kincaid has all of the credentials she needs to be President – beauty, intelligence, a distinguished career as a doctor, an electrifying career as a Senator and she's the scion of a respected political family. She has been driving towards this goal for much of her adult life and her Blueprint for America is setting crowds on fire. She has no personal life to distract her. Since her husband's death in a plane crash years ago, she's focused on nothing but her service to the people of the United States and that suits her fine. Unfortunately, her high profile as a candidate means she has to have protection from the Secret Service and that necessitates a female agent being assigned to her.

Agent Alex Warner isn't sure she's any happier about the assignment than the candidate until they meet. Alex is immediately impressed with Jane's down to earth personality and dedication to improving the country. Jane can't help but admire Alex's natural humility and her heroism. The women find themselves becoming fast friends as Alex slips into the role of advisor as well as protector.

As the campaign progresses, Jane finds she cannot focus on her task without Alex present and that becomes the problem. When the women realize they have developed feelings for each other the timing couldn't be worse. Jane is fighting a hard enough battle as a woman. She can't add the extra complication of being a lesbian. She doesn't want to give up Alex, but her life has been dedicated to one path. Suddenly she appears to be looking down two paths that run in different directions. Can she be satisfied following one, but not the other? Is the country ready to accept both? Just how much are they willing to tolerate from their golden girl?

Tracey Richardson has written her story with considerable skill. The personalities of the characters are well defined in the beginning, but also are allowed to change as their relationship progresses and the women don't fall in love immediately, but grow into a realization of their feelings over an appropriate amount of time. The dilemma Jane faces is also handled very realistically. For someone who wants to be president, outing herself couldn't be more impossible. Readers shouldn't expect her to simply throw away her political dreams for an opportunity at "true love" and the way she handles her choices feels right. What makes the book particularly enjoyable is that the affair, though important, doesn't drive the plot as much as the situation in which Jane finds herself and the decision making process she goes through. The result is an interesting tale with some thought behind it. This book is worth reading.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: The Crown of Valencia
Author: Catherine Friend
ISBN: 1-933110-96-1
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; Bold Strokes Books,; Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 Pages: 283
Genre: Historical Novel

(Sequel to The Spanish Pearl, reviewed below)

In this second book of love and intrigue in the time of the Moors, Kate Vincent becomes a reluctant time traveler, once again. When she discovers that the content of books about the time period are changing almost before her eyes, she realizes that the historical timeline has been breached, and history is twisting and turning into something that never was. At first, she has trouble convincing anyone that something terrible is happening, but then she is called upon to restore history to its original place. She hesitates because, not only does she not want to leave her comfortable life and her family, but she is also concerned about what will happen if she finds Luis Navarro again.

When it becomes apparent that she is the best woman for the job, she packs her bags and visits the cave at Mirabueno, finding herself back in Spain fourteen years after she left, fighting hidden enemies, making alliances, and trying to fix the broken timeline and return it to its rightful past.

The story is woven with new enemies and old friends, and Kate soon discovers that not everyone who professes to be an ally is one. As she moves toward Valencia, to restore El Cid as the conqueror she knows he must become, she finds a mere shell of a man and she must figure out how this has happened in order to correct the injustice. When Kate takes on the despicable Paloma de Palma, she comes close to losing her life several times. In addition, Kate discovers that things have changed in the life of the dashing Luis Navarro in ways she never could have imagined.

Once again, Friend gives us brilliant descriptions of people, time, and place. Her storytelling talent is superb and her plot twists continually keep the reader in suspense, turning page after page until the end of the story. Read in tandem with Friend’s first book in this series, The Spanish Pearl, both books will provide hours of entertainment for history, lesbian romance, and adventure buffs alike.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: The Lonely Hearts Club
Author: Radclyffe
ISBN-10: 1-60282-005-8 - ISBN-13: 978-1-60282-005-0
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; Bold Strokes Books,
Price: $15.95 - Pages: 275
Genre: Romance

Think Friends, Sex in the City, and The L-Word, with Radclyffe’s signature touches, for an engaging, uplifting and truly sexy character-driven emotional adventure. The Lonely Hearts Club explores the hearts and minds of six professional women, all different, all sexy, and all complicated, and all searching for true love, even if they think they’re better off single. Whether a playgirl, a person who prefers her fantasies, or a practical and loyal woman embarking on motherhood, everyone needs companionship, love, trust, and lust. Radclyffe succeeds in showing how different our sexuality can be – and how valid despite those differences.

Liz Ramsey is a thirty-five-year-old malpractice attorney on top of her game when life-altering changes throw her for a loop. Her best friends, Marilyn Monroe-esque Candace Lory, a commodities trader who gets around and Brenda Beal, a thirty-year-old quietly sensitive caretaker, who enjoys the fantasy of love perhaps more than the reality, remain the constant by which Liz lives her life. “For nine years [Liz, Candace and Bren had] shared secrets, heartbreaks, the joy of new beginnings and the pain of breaking up. They had forged something that went beyond friendship and created a family in a far more intimate way than anything Liz shared with most of her blood relatives” (page 19). But even a "family of choice" can have secrets and still maintain a healthy, loving, nurturing, and protective relationship.

Add Dr. Reilly Danvers, an orthopedic surgeon, who is “melt-in-your-mouth hot,” and feeds off the tension of her profession so that she’s too tired to worry about her life outside the hospital; Parker Playgirl Jones, a sexy corporate attorney; and Julia, Liz’s ex, among other surprise guests, and you have an ensemble of compelling characters, intriguing complications amidst soul-searching, tying up loose ends, and making way for fulfilling futures. Gay or straight, most women would agree that these are the key ingredients to a happier life.

Readers who aren’t afraid to explore their sensual and sexual side and think about their needs and desires will want to read The Lonely Hearts Club because there’s always something to learn. Between the witty and often funny, charming, and meaningful dialogue, cliff-hanger scene endings, the hints of deep dark secrets along the way, and characters you'll love, it is no surprise that The Lonely Hearts Club will leave you lonely no more. Every gesture, look, sigh, and thought moves the plot along with just enough hints to maintain suspense. Each character has a unique descriptor. How Radclyffe keeps track of all these women is a wonder. Radclyffe empowers women, and being a lesbian is not a pre-requisite for reading her work. Happily married and single straight women who enjoy romance, exploring sexual desire, living vicariously through characters who etch themselves in your heart and mind, and who long for stimulating circumstances between multi-faceted characters, will not want to miss The Lonely Hearts Club.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

Title: The Road Home
Author: Frankie J. Jones
ISBN: 9781594931109
Publisher: Bella Books
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; Bella Books,
Price: $13.95 - Pages: 269
Genre: Romance

Lynn Strickland and her partner Crissy don't have much, but they're working hard at various jobs and Crissy is going to college. One day Crissy will have her teaching degree and then they can start saving the money to buy the horse ranch Lynn has always dreamed of. When Lynn finds a winning lottery ticket that is dropped by someone in front of her, she believes that all of her dreams are about to come true. Instead, everything unravels very quickly. Crissy demands that Lynn return the ticket to the rightful owner and this eventually leads to Lynn finding herself running from the law, rejected by her partner for her behavior, and on an adventure with an escapee from a nursing home. As she works to straighten out her life and win back Crissy, she learns that there are things more important than money and money can't buy them.

The Road Home is a very routine romance. Women who are in love encounter a problem, get broken apart and then work to get back together. The best character is Beulah Mae, the escapee. She's an elderly black butch who still knows how to treat a woman and can charm the birds out of the trees. You can imagine the twinkle in her eye as she moves through the story picking up women, but she also provides poignancy to the book, both as representing the plight of the elderly who find themselves locked away unwillingly and in the story of her early life as a lesbian of color. The other characters aren't as well established or seem harder to get a grasp of and, at times, are irritating in their irrationality. The reader's response to them may depend on the individual's definitions of honesty and honor and how each character relates to them. The story is engaging enough though and can provide a few hours of diversion.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: The Spanish Pearl
Author: Catherine Friend
ISBN: 978-1933110769
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; Bold Strokes Books,
Price: $15.95 - Pages: 288
Genre: Lesbian/Historical/Fiction

What would it be like to walk into a cave in contemporary times and walk back out after a brief sleep to discover that you had gone back in time almost a thousand years? That’s what happens to Kate Vincent when she wanders away from her partner, Anna, while visiting Spain. Anna is intrigued with the Palacio de la Aljaferia, the grand palace once inhabited by Moors and the Christian mercenaries aligned with them. Anna is a bit of a history buff and loves the historical time in which Moors and Christians both fought and made alliances with one another.

Kate becomes bored with Anna’s enthusiasm over the time period and decides to take a break by visiting the cave of Mirabueno. After wandering away from the cave tour on her own, she lays down on a slab of rock inside for a nap. When she awakens and steps out of the cave, she discovers a very different countryside than she remembers from only a few hours before. She finds the surrounding area is much wilder and thoroughly uninhabited than the area she so recently left to enter the cave. The adventure is off and running when Kate has to dive into the underbrush to avoid being crushed by a band of mercenaries on horseback and she must quickly figure out how to live in a world very different from the one she’s left behind. As she struggles to keep her virtue and her life intact, she is rescued, time and time again, by the dashing Luis Navarro—and for the life of her, Kate can’t figure out why she is attracted to this rogue of a man.

Catherine Friend gives us a wonderful view of an epic part of history, with Moorish princes and princesses, and rough Spanish mercenaries weaving in and out of the pages. The descriptions of people, places, and events transport the reader. The author shows us a main character who is a reluctant time traveler trying to make her way in a very different world. Friend portrays Kate in situations that are both comical and perilous and the reader will continue turning page after page to find out what happens next. The Spanish Pearl is filled with romantic interludes, swashbuckling adventure, and drips with historical detail. The writing is elegant—and, happily, there’s more to come in the second book of the series, The Crown of Valencia.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Our Reviewers
Bios of Authors

Our Reviewers

Sandra Barret
Sandra Barret grew up in New England, where she spent more years than she cares to mention as a software programmer. She lives with her partner, two children, and a menagerie of pets. Sandra has been an avid reader of fantasy, horror, and lesbian romance. This interest has led her to pen her own creations in novel and short story format.

Contact her at

Anna Furtado
Anna is a Book Reviewer for Just About Write, The East Bay Voice, and The L-Word Literature section; and Author of The Heart's Desire Book One of The Briarcrest Chronicles, a 2005 GCLS Goldie Award Finalist, and The Heart's Strength, Book Two of The Briarcrest Chronicles,

Anna's Web site:
Contact her at

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

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

Write to her at

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

Contact Lori at

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

You can reach Lynne at

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

Contact her at

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

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

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

Contact her at

Author Bios

Julie Cannon
Julie Cannon lives with her partner of sixteen years in Phoenix, Arizona. They enjoy camping and swimming with their seven year old son and daughter. Julie works for Corporate America and spends her down time writing stories.

JM Dragon
JM Dragon is a native of the United Kingdom and now resides in New Zealand. She started posting stories on the Internet nine years ago and one of them, Define Destiny, has been published as a book. Her most enjoyable hobby is writing stories for her Internet site and other sites. She can be reached at

Alicia Gaspar de Alba
Alicia Gaspar de Alba is the author of various works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, among them a collection of poems and essays, La Llorona on the Longfellow Bridge: Poetry y Otras Movidas, and a historical novel, Sor Juana's Second Dream. She is also the editor of Velvet Barrios: Popular Culture and Chicana/o Sexualities. An Associate Professor of Chicana/o Studies and English at the University of California, Los Angeles, Gaspar de Alba is a native of the El Paso/Juarez border. She has been researching the crimes in Desert Blood since 1998 and organized an international conference on the murders at UCLA in 2003. Her latest novel is Calligraphy of the Witch: A Novel, which is set in the time of the Salem witch trials.

Catherine Friend
Catherine Friend has written six children's books, one of which was awarded the 2007 Loft/McKnight Artist Fellowship in Children's Literature. Her very funny memoir, Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn, won a 2007 Golden Crown Award and was a finalist for both a Lambda Literary Award and the Judy Grahn Award. Her nonfiction book, The Compassionate Carnivore, will be released by Da Capo in May, 2008. Her next novel, A Pirate's Heart will be published by Bold Strokes Books.

Frankie J. Jones
Frankie J. Jones is the author of many titles, including Voices of the Heart, Survival of Love and For Every Season. She also writes under the pen name of Megan Carter, whose titles include Passionate Kisses, Please Forgive Me and On the Wings of Love.

Jones is also a freelance nature photographer and likes to rummage through flea markets and junk shops in search of items that can be restored. Her hobbies include woodworking, metal detecting and genealogy. She can be reached at
Erin O'Reilly
Erin O'Reilly lives in Texas and is a self-proclaimed computer geek. She had stories in her head for years and her first published book was Revelations. Her second novel Deceptions is due in 2008. She can be reached at

Ruth Perkinson

Catherine Friend lives with her long-time partner on a farm in Southern Minnesota. The two women raise sheep, garden, and enjoy the fruits of their labor. You may learn more about her books and her farm adventures at:

Radclyffe is an award-winning author-publisher with over twenty-five lesbian novels and anthologies in print, including the Lambda Literary winners Erotic Interludes 2: Stolen Moments -- ed. with Stacia Seaman -- and Distant Shores, Silent Thunder. She has selections in multiple anthologies including Wild Nights, Fantasy, Best Lesbian Erotica 2006, 7 and 8, After Midnight, Caught Looking: Erotic Tales of Voyeurs and Exhibitionists, First-Timers, Ultimate Undies: Erotic Stories About Lingerie and Underwear, A is for Amour, H is for Hardcore, and L is for Leather. She is the recipient of the 2003 and 2004 Alice B. Readers' award for her body of work and is also the president of Bold Strokes Books, one of the world’s largest independent LGBT publishing companies.

Her forthcoming works include Word of Honor (June 2008) and Night Call (October 2008). Read more about her novels at

Tracey Richardson
Tracey Richardson lives with her partner Sandra in Toronto, Ontario, where they were legally married in 2003. When she isn't writing fiction, she's an editor at a daily newspaper. Besides writing, Tracey enjoys playing hockey, skiing, golfing, tennis and spending time with her dogs.

Rachel Spangler
Rachel Spangler has earned three college degrees: politics and government, women's studies, and English. She recently completed a master's degree in college student personnel administration. While in college, she was involved in PFLAG, PRIDE, FMLA, and Safe Schools. She tapped into those experiences while writing Learning Curve. Rachel lives with her partner in western New York.

Reese Szymanski
Therese Szymanski is an award winning playwright and author of several novels. She also has had short stories included in a number of anthologies, plus being an editor, reviewer, columnist and interviewer. Szymanski has been short listed for awards from the Lambda Literary Society, Golden Crown Literary Society, Spectrum and has been recognized by the Publishing Triangle for writing a Notable Lesbian Book with her first anthology. She can be reached by email at or on her Live Journal at Her next Brett Higgins series novel When It's All Relative is due out in 2008.

Jane Vollbrecht
Jane’s first novel, Picture Perfect, was a finalist in the Debut Author category for the 2005 Golden Crown Literary Society Awards. Heart Trouble, her second novel, was released by Regal Crest Enterprises in August, 2006. Jane’s short story, “Samhain” was included in the Call of the Dark (Bella Books), an anthology of supernatural tales; her short story “My Favorite Mechanic,” appeared in the Romance for LIFE anthology (Intaglio Publications).

Jane was born and raised in a farming community in northwestern Minnesota, where she received her elementary education in a one-room country schoolhouse (obviously, more than just a few years ago). She holds a Bachelor's degree from St. Cloud (Minnesota) State University and is a member of Lambda Iota Tau, an international literature honors society. In late 2005, she retired from Federal civil service after more than three decades with the same agency. She is now gleefully pursuing her new career as an author and editor.

She and her partner live in the foothills of the north Georgia mountains with their many cats. In addition to spending time at the computer writing and editing books, Jane enjoys tending her gardens, feeding the wildlife on their property, and playing the piano.