Reviews for April 2006

Title: A Matter of Trust, 2nd Edition
Author: Radclyffe
ISBN: 1-933110-33-3
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $15.95
Pages: 206
Genre: Fiction/ Lesbian Romance

A Matter of Trust by Radclyffe has been re-released as a 2nd edition, and it was just as much fun reading it the second time as it was the first. True to her style, Radclyffe has written a sexy, powerful love story filled with angst, discovery and passion. Quite simply, she seduces the reader with her prose, only freeing us after we have read the final pages.

A Matter of Trust, now the prequel to the Justice Series, was originally written as a stand alone romance. The story’s main characters eventually become critical players in the series, but in this book, we are first introduced to Michael Lassiter and JT Sloan. Michael hires Sloan, an expert cyber sleuth, to protect her company from her ruthless husband, but their relationship, which is tentative at first, develops into something much more than a business affair.

While both Michael and Sloan have been involved with others before, they are empty inside and in their own way, feel unworthy of a deep all-encompassing love. Their journey to get to this new kind of love is what makes Radclyffe’s romances so rewarding to her readers. She is the master at spinning romances where the characters discover a truly passionate and fulfilling love for the first time. Along the way, we experience everything that the characters feel. Radclyffe’s words build anticipation and give us release. She captures the uncertainty of first love and its discovery as the plot deftly differentiates between love and sex.

Even if you have read A Matter of Trust before, it is well worth a reread. And if you have not, this book is a must for all those who enjoy getting swept away with a tender and sizzling romance.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: Dark Dreamer
Author: Jennifer Fulton
ISBN: 1932300465
Publisher: Yellow Rose Books
Available from: StarCrossed Productions,
Pages: 190
Cost: $16.95
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Lesbian

If you are a fan of Jennifer Fulton and think you know what to expect because you have read her other books, be forewarned. Dark Dreamer is very different from her earlier work.

Rowe Devlin is a best-selling writer who has developed a total block, the consequence of which is that her last two books have been complete flops. Her private life has not fared much better as she has bounced from one unsuccessful relationship to another. In desperation she retreats to an old Victorian house in Maine called Dark Cottage. If she cannot find the idea for a new book, at least she can hide from her fans and her publisher. Unfortunately, the peace and quiet she hopes will provide inspiration is short-lived when it becomes apparent that Dark Cottage is haunted by a spirit that will not leave Rowe alone. To add to her misery, her neighbors Phoebe and Cara Temple, who are identical twins, provide more distraction when Rowe finds that she is romantically drawn to each one. At one point in the story there is a real perception that Rowe may give in to her confusion and be involved with both sisters.

The Temples have a secret too. Phoebe, who was injured in an accident years before, has been left with psychic powers, which the sisters use to help solve crimes. Cara is the outgoing twin who functions well in the regular world and acts as the facilitator/manager for Phoebe, who would rather stay in her quiet home, cook and ignore the rest of the world. At first the sisters are able to keep their service quiet, working only with a single FBI agent who helps to keep them out of the limelight. Eventually though, Phoebe's talents draw the attention of the CIA and the Office of Homeland Security and the sisters find themselves unwilling recruits in the war on terrorism. And, with all of this going on, the sisters are also trying to help Rowe solve a gruesome murder that happened many years ago and produced spirits who are making it impossible for her to enjoy Dark Cottage.

If you have the impression that there are a lot of story lines, you would be correct. This is a more complex book than many of Fulton's fans are used to. There is also a darkness, a brooding feeling of evil, that is new to Fulton. Dark Dreamer is the first of a new series that Fulton is embarking on and it's obvious that she's experimenting with some new writing, perhaps drawing on the old Gothic mystery format for inspiration. It will be up to her readers to decide if they will embrace this new approach like they have her earlier romantic novels.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Daughters of an Emerald Dusk
Author: Katherine V. Forrest
ISBN: 1-55583-823-5
Publisher: Alyson Books
Distributed by
Price: $13.95
Pages: 224
Genre: Science Fiction/Lesbian

The third installment in the fascinating story of the women who colonized the planet Maternas, this is the follow-up to Daughters of a Coral Dawn (1984) and Daughters of an Amber Noon (2002). In the telling of this tale, set 50 years after Amber Noon, Forrest captures the ethereal, otherworldly, second generation offspring of the women of Maternas. They are hauntingly different and beautiful. At first they seem distant, aloof, uncaring, but there is another aspect to these women that unfolds in the telling of the tale. The long-term impact of colonization of this planet makes us reflect on our own part in stewarding the Earth.

Some of the women of Maternas’ Inner Circle have returned from Earth with new colonists. One of these women is Joss, a young musician who finds herself called to a very high calling indeed. She becomes the emissary for the youngest generation of the colony. The method of communication of messages is very unconventional and Joss discovers it just as she and Emerald, the colony leader’s daughter, embark on their own tentative relationship. Emerald is chasing her own demons, obsessed with finding her daughter, who has become one of the separatists of the newest generation on the planet.

In an effort to continue to receive messages from these young women, to understand what danger the colony might be in, and how they might save themselves from it, Joss makes the decision not to return to the colony with Emerald. It is a sacrifice for the greater good. When the message finally becomes clear, some have difficulty believing it and chalk it up to dreams and hallucinations. Others, however, realize the truth of the message and embrace it. In the end, we must wait to see if the colony will choose to do what is right.

There are many references to what has happened in the previous story (Daughters of an Amber Noon), so if the reader hasn’t read the previous book, the story seems incomplete. Still it is possible to appreciate the story by itself. Forrest’s characters continue to be multi-dimensional and her descriptions of a world so different in color and texture from Earth are fascinating. Life on Maternas seems very real, as do the dangers that are presented in this tale.

Forrest has given us both an entertaining and thought-provoking account. Fans of Coral Dawn and Amber Noon will welcome this addition to the series and Forrest has still left us wondering what will happen to this colony of women next.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: No Evidence
Author: Nancy Sanra
ISBN: 1-594493-043-0
Publisher: Bella Books
Available From: Bella Books, and StarCrossed Productions
Price: $12.95
Pages: 161
Genre: Lesbian/Crime Drama

The Phoenix Detective Agency’s latest case sends Tally McGinnis and Cid Cameron to northern California coast in the search of a serial killer. A difficult task under any circumstances, their efforts are further impeded by a highly questionable local sheriff’s department and a threat of seriously damaging political fall-out. Nonetheless, Tally begins the arduous task of determining exactly how, why, and by whom Johanna Haskall was murdered. As the mystery deepens, family secrets and seemingly inexplicable personal motives arise to further blur the lines between what appears to be and what actually is the truth. To share anymore would no doubt spoil the exciting adventure awaiting the reader.

There are many authors who write in the mystery genre. Too often they tend to overlap to the degree to which they sometimes seem indistinguishable. Nancy Sanra does not fall into this category. Her tightly written story begins quickly and rockets across the chapters. This is a novel that truly involves the reader. One can empathize with Katie as she continues, albeit reluctantly, to recognize that Tally’s profession demands so much more than just time and effort; it demands a little piece of Tally’s soul with each heartbreaking case.

Sanra knows her characters well, and it is with a deft touch that she brings the subtle facets of each to the page. Reading No Evidence is like spending time with old friends. The reader is comfortable within the setting and with these women who have carved out a business for themselves that very often tests them to their limits. The secondary characters exceed the stereotypical depictions often seen in lesser novels. Once confronted with the murderer, the reader is presented a chilling portrait of a savage psychopathic individual who will stop at nothing to accomplish his vision of his reality. This novel is the fourth in the Tally McGinnis series and is the best entry thus far.

This reader has enjoyed the previous novels, but No Evidence displays a growth in this writer’s craft. The dialogue is crisp, at times sardonically humorous, and extremely readable. Sanra's three main characters have developed into personable, stalwart, yet sensitive, women. The plotline is realistically developed and races across the pages. It is truly a book one cannot put down.

Strong, independent, and likable women are exemplified in the characterization of professional partners, Tally and Cid. Tally’s relationship with Katie, the receptionist and third partner in the Phoenix Detective Agency, has evolved over time, and the presentation here is very satisfying for those readers who have followed it throughout the previous novels. Fast-paced action scenes, characters consumed by self-doubt and a twisted sense of love, and intrepid and tenacious detectives make this a worthy entry in the hard-boiled-detective genre. No Evidence is an entertaining and rewarding way to spend a few hours. This reader eagerly awaits the next in the series.
Reviewed by Arlene Germain

Title: On a Wing and a Prayer
Author: Karen D. Badger
ISBN: 0977031810
Publisher: Blue Feather Books,
Available From: Blue Feather Books,
Price: $18.99
Pages: 360
Genre: Lesbian Romance

The Internet plays a role in everything we do today. Karen Badger has written an eye-opening romance, On a Wing and a Prayer that exposes the Internet’s pervasive influence in our lives.

Cass Conway, an airline pilot, meets Roxanne Ward, a fiction author, through email correspondence after she reads one of her books and is enchanted by the author’s back cover photo. They correspond for months, and the emails become increasingly intimate. They share with each other their present lives and their growing feelings for one another. But Rox isn’t free to be with Cass. She is in an abusive relationship with her partner. After a terrible beating that puts Rox in the hospital, Cass travels cross country to help her and finally meets her for the first time. But Cass is not who Rox thought she is and needs to reconcile this from her months of correspondence.

Badger is insightful with her assessment of how easily we expose ourselves over the Internet. As Cass and Rox’ attraction for each other grows, they become comfortable with very personal details that may not have occurred if they had met and pursued the relationship through a series of face-to-face encounters. On a Wing and a Prayer also handles the issues of falling in love over the Internet, and the pitfalls that may arise by this kind of relationship, with thought-provoking questions. These questions are posed to the main characters by their respective best friends who caution them on developing attachments to a person that they have not met. Their friends become their reality check, and this balances the plot and prevents the book from going over the top.

Badger adds a tantalizing twist with this romance. Rox believes that she has fallen in love with a man because the subject of Cass’ sex never comes up in emails. When they finally meet, after Rox has returned from the hospital, Rox is shocked by this discovery and immediately withdraws. As these scenes are fleshed out, Badger shows us how love transcends all with emotionally charged thoughts and dialogue. Rox experiences denial, anger, confusion, weariness and finally realizes the one answer to the all important question- can she live without Cass for the rest of her life just because Cass is a woman?

On a Wing and a Prayer is a well written story that many of us can relate to because the Internet is so omnipresent in our lives. Badger skillfully composes an exceptional romance that has us believing in the notion that love can conquer all. I highly recommend this one of a kind romance.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: Picking Up the Pace
Author: Kimberly LaFontaine
ISBN: 1-933113-41-3
Publisher: Intaglio Publications, Gainesville, FL
Available From: StarCrossed Productions
Price: $15.95
Pages: 212
Genre: Mystery/Romance

Depressed over a recent breakup with her boyfriend, but elated over a job promotion, Angie Mitchell agrees to go to a party where she meets a singer who has just finished a stint in the Peace Corps. Finding herself attracted to Lauren has turned Angie’s world upside down.

When her boss promotes her to the crime beat for the Tribune, Angie finds herself in way over her head but refuses to back down. Her current assignment becomes risky not only to the subjects of her articles but also to herself.

Angie loves her job as witnessed in the following scene where she and her boss Tom discuss their plans. "They started throwing out ideas, argued over how they would best be presented with maps, graphics, or photographs. Half an hour later, they had worked themselves into some sort of frenzy – as near physical arousal as anyone can get over a job" [p. 27]. LaFontaine shows their excitement by comparing “throwing out ideas” to “physical arousal.” The goose bumps and flushed face in the next sentence only add to the enthusiasm. LaFontaine uses imagery to evoke the emotion she strives to portray. The reader gets the impression that Tom and Angie are having sex when they are actually just doing their jobs. Who wouldn’t want a stimulating job like that?

Kimberly LaFontaine shows promise in her debut novel, Picking Up the Pace. It will be interesting to follow her career and watch her progress as she continues to strengthen her style and find her voice. The story is plausible, the plot well-thought out albeit a bit contrived at times, the characters are real and likeable, and the pace is up to speed. However, LaFontaine uses “the reporter,” “the singer,” “the brunette,” and other descriptive terms instead of their given names too often, that it becomes bothersome.

To compound the problem, there are instances where the point of view switches mid-scene, further taking the reader out of the story. For example, in this particular scene we are in Angie’s head, “She didn’t remember much after that last glass of wine. She would have to pump him [Jimmy] for information” [p.22]. Then in the very next paragraph, “He [Jimmy] showed up a few minutes later, a bag of groceries in his arm. He smirked at the sleeping reporter and quietly began preparing an early meal in the kitchen. He knew it would have to be bland” [p. 22]. Angie couldn’t possibly know what Jimmy is thinking. There are authors who don’t stick to the rules of POV, but they do it flawlessly. I didn’t find that the case with Picking Up the Pace.

In another instance, the scene break is so abrupt the reader gets lost for a moment and loses the momentum. One minute you have Angie and Lauren on their way to a restaurant, which ends with Lauren teasing Angie, “I guess you’ll just have to wait and see” [p. 91]. Then you turn the page and Angie is in the airport with her dad.

LaFontaine has left room for a sequel, to further explore and define Angie and Lauren’s relationship amidst varying plots. There needs to be more characterization and less job description if the reader is going to connect with the characters. The plot captures and holds the reader’s interest, and invests the reader in their outcome. With a little more sharpening of her craft, LaFontaine can correct the minor flaws of Picking Up the Pace and possibly emerge as a strong addition to the writers of lesbian fiction.

Picking Up the Pace is a fascinating look at the life of a reporter. Anyone who wants an intimate glimpse into a journalist’s work will enjoy this first novel by Kimberly LaFontaine.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

Title: Romance for LIFE
Edited by: Lori L. Lake and Tara Young
ISBN: 1933113596
Published By: Intaglio Publications,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $17.95
Pages: 302
Genre: Fiction/ Lesbian Anthology/Romance

The best reason to read Romance for LIFE, an anthology of lesbian love stories, is that 100% of the profits are being donated to breast cancer charities. The second best reason is that this compilation of 25 short stories by best-selling lesbian fiction authors has a little something for everyone.

The stories run the gamut from tender and romantic to socially relevant. They include tales about young love, a lifetime of love, and loss. While the focus is not on erotica, there are some steamy scenes within more than a few stories.

Among the 25, I found several stand-outs. Jennifer Fulton’s "Absinthe" touched me deeply. Her piece, about love and survival during World War II, spoke of finding and holding onto love within the greater setting of a horrific war. Keeping with the times, she includes an erotic scene when the two lovers first meet on a train that sizzles despite the absence of graphic detail.

Karin Kallmaker’s "Pas de Trois" is funny, sexy and heartwarming. This tale of love lost and love found makes you cry and laugh at the same time. Radclyffe’s "Queen of Hearts" has beautiful, heart-stopping prose about young love, first love. Jean Stewart’s "Seasons" deals with compromise, changing and growing old together and gives one pause about how much we take for granted.

Of all the amazing tales, the one that sums up this collection the best is Gabrielle Goldsby’s Best of My Life. It's a letter from a woman to her partner who has breast cancer. It's moving and life-affirming, and only the hard-hearted will not shed a tear after reading it. In the shortest piece in this anthology, Goldsby has accurately captured the essence of Romance for LIFE.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: The Three
Author: Meghan O'Brien
ISBN: 987-1-932300-51-2
Publisher: Quest,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $19.95
Genre: Fiction/Post-Apocalyptic Adventure/Lesbian

Meghan O'Brien's second novel, The Three, covers territory seldom explored in lesbian fiction. As the title suggests, the story revolves around three women and the love they share. I must admit, my first reaction on hearing the story premise was to avoid the book. But the future dystopia was intriguing. So, I gave the book a try and I'm very glad I did. O'Brien's writing skills and storytelling abilities shine in this novel.

The Three is told entirely from the point of view of Anna, one of the few survivors of a deadly plague. The story takes place twenty years or so after disease and disorder wipe out most of the population of the United States. Anna attempts to rescue a beautiful woman, Elin, from a gang of rapists. But Elin is not alone. Her lover, Kael overcomes the gang. While Elin immediately welcomes Anna, Kael is less than enthusiastic over Anna's presence. As they progress through woods and deserted cities, Elin and Anna grow close, but Kael remains aloof.

O'Brien uses Anna and Kael as different reflections of similar personalities. While the romantic interests weave between all three characters, it is the bond that grows between Kael and Anna that is the most intense and intriguing. While the first half of the story includes an over abundance of erotic scenes, the second half of the story moves at an active pace, presenting obstacles for the three, both internal and external. O'Brien's exploration goes beyond the issues involved in balancing a romantic relationship between three people. She also delves deeply into the areas of emotional and psychological recovery. Both Anna and Kael are deeply flawed characters. But it is Elin, the carefree optimist who ends up in the most dangerous situation, and her occasionally at-odds lovers must push themselves beyond their differences to rescue her.

O'Brien shows the talent and skill of a dedicated author. Her writing is crisp, her characters multidimensional, and her story journey packed with unexpected twists. The Three is both an action story and a character journey that was well worth the read.
Reviewed by Sandra Barret

Title: Turn Back Time
Author: Radclyffe
ISBN: 1-933110-34-1
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $15.95
Pages: 300
Genre: Fiction/ Lesbian Romance

As a retired surgeon, Radclyffe has written love stories about physicians, even surgeons, but she has never devoted one of her romances to the details of a surgeon’s life until now… In her 24th published book, Turn Back Time, Radclyffe offers tribute to her passion for medicine by giving us a stirring and heartfelt romance filled with the power of love.

Through her characters Wynter Thompson and Pearce Rifkin, both surgical residents at University Hospital in Philadelphia, Radclyffe shares with her readers a private part of her self through her fiction. Her prose is eloquent. She executes the story perfectly by drawing the reader into her characters’ world and holding us captive as we experience the sheer force of Wynter’s and Pearce’s love for each other.

Few authors can expertly construct a romance with such all consuming emotion that the reader forgets the world around her. Turn Back Time connects deeply with us because Radclyffe’s love of her professions, both medicine and writing, permeates every page of the book. The reader is not overwhelmed with technical jargon because Radclyffe’s focus is on the two women and their interactions with each other.

While Radclyffe states in her acknowledgment that this is not her personal story, I believe it is a bridge from her past through her present to her future. With Turn Back Time she is saying a final goodbye to a profession that has given her so much and to which she has dedicated most of her life. With so much love poured into this romance, I could not help but feel Wynter’s and Pearce’s story within the depths of my soul.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: With Every Breath
Author: Alex Alexander
ISBN: 1-933113-39-1
Publisher: Intaglio Publications
Available From: Starcrossed Productions,
Price: $15.25
Pages: 202
Genre: Mystery/Fiction/Lesbian

It’s one of those early morning phone calls no one ever wants to receive. News of a friend and former lover having been murdered sets Abigail Dunnigan into a tailspin. With this news, Abby returns to her hometown, accompanied by her housemate and business partner Jeff Hunt, pleasing her parents, who are ecstatic over what they incorrectly believe to be a new straight romantic relationship.

The proverbial plot thickens as old and new friends, some former lovers, meet for the funeral of Clara Stokes, the murdered woman. Clara was a diary keeper, as all her lovers have known. The diaries prove to be the link that the murderer now uses to go after the other women that Clara has had relationships with—and the murderer leaves clues that lead everyone to believe he is Clara’s abusive husband, recently released from prison.

The FBI becomes involved, as Clara’s former lovers must be protected from what becomes increasingly apparent is a person gone mad. We wonder at several points in the story if FBI personnel are there to help or hinder the investigation, as does Abby herself. During the course of this tale, an unexpected plot twist sends Abby, and the FBI, into an about-face in an effort to save all of the lives of those at risk.

In the midst of the grief and intrigue, Abby finds that her memories of experiences left behind in Desert Storm re-immerge and cause her to wonder about her own sanity. When she embarks on a professional relationship with therapist Jayne Kinderlen, a sweet friendship evolves that becomes Abby’s touchstone, and Jayne goes above and beyond the call of duty to come to Abby’s aid.

Abby’s twin brother, Alvin, proves an enigma. Their relationship is true to form with that inexpressible bond ever-present for twins, in spite of any differences they may have. Throughout the story, we are given snippets of that relationship and we wonder what part Alvin plays in the grand scheme of things.

Alex Alexander has woven an intriguing story, filled with the kind of scenes that sometimes cause goose flesh to rise, true to With Every Breath's mystery-thriller content. To counterpoint this, Alexander portrays the relationship between Abby and Dr. Kinderlen as poignant and endearing, a chivalrous romantic interlude that leaves us rooting for both women to be true to themselves. In the end, the killer’s identity is revealed in an ending that makes us wonder who the real offender in this story is.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Women of Mystery – An Anthology
Editor: Katherine V. Forrest
ISBN-13: 978-1-56023-543-9
ISBN-10: 1-56023-543-8
Publisher: Harrington Press (Alice Street Editions)
Distributed By: Haworth Press (
Price: $19.95
Pages: 260
Genre: Fiction/Lesbian

With the likes of J.L. Belrose, Victoria Brownworth, Joan M. Drury, Lisa Liel, Jeane Harris, J.M. Redmann, Ouida Crozier and editor Katherine V. Forrest herself (to name only a few of the illustrious contributors), this mystery anthology couldn’t miss – and doesn’t! Each story, by a woman, about women, is unique in voice and creativity. Each story has a distinct lesbian flavor.

Beginning with “The ‘Sound’ of Music” by Joan M. Drury, the sweet, comical portrayal of a deaf woman and her involvement and aid in solving a murder, sets the tone for the wonderful contributions to come. We are made to wonder about the permanence of death in Lisa Liel’s “The Last Minute,” and are excited by a tale that mixes legend, lore and contemporary mystery in Jeane Harris’ “Let Sleeping Cats Lie.” “A Leopard’s Spots” by Katherine V. Forrest seems so very Agatha, while still presenting us with a marvelously fresh and challenging story with a room full of suspects!

A few of the tales involve some descriptively violent scenes, so beware. Most notably, images in “Violation” by Victoria Brownworth may prove disturbing. However, the story is, indeed, fascinating and leaves a lingering taste of mystery on the tongue.

The classic bodies-buried-in-the-backyard are well represented among these tales, and yet each of them is unique. Some contain that final little twist that leaves us tingling, and we remember why it is that we love a good mystery. Missing persons, visits to the “other side,” and walks on the “wild side” abound. A non-human culprit and a non-human “body” are represented here.

If you love mysteries, don’t miss this great collection. Each story is a tiny titillating treasure. Snuggle up with this great mystery anthology edited by Katherine V. Forrest, but don’t forget to leave the lights on.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Under the Gun
Author: Lori L. Lake
ISBN: 1-930928-44-0
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $ 22.95
Pages: 490
Genre: Romance/Crime Drama

In the second gripping police drama in Lori L. Lake’s Gun series, Under the Gun delightfully picks up where Gun Shy left off and sets the stage for the third novel, Have Gun We’ll Travel. Once you make the acquaintance of Officer Desiree (Dez) Reilly and her partner and lover Rookie Officer Jaylynn (Jay) Savage, you won’t be able to get enough of this dynamic duo. The two cops are as different as night and day in appearance and personality. Always the macho cop, Dez, affectionately referred to as “tall, dark, and dangerous,” maintains a tough impenetrable shell and demeanor to hide her fears. “[Jaylynn] liked the fact that there was a defensive fortress around her taciturn partner, but that the tall cop had let her find the few chinks in the armor so that she had free access to come and go as she pleased” (p. 378). Dez contains her emotions until the breaking point, while Jay is not embarrassed or afraid to show her feelings. “It occurred to [Dez] that one major thing she liked about Jaylynn was how alive she was. She took on life with zest, whether she was investigating a crime, talking on the phone, eating something tasty, making love, or crying at a sad movie” (p. 271).

Under the Gun begins with Dez seemingly happy and hopelessly in love with Jay, the vivacious, light-haired bundle of energy, but at the same time, she is petrified of losing her, which is making her miserable. Jay is proving to be an excellent officer, but her impulsive streak has Dez worried, since Jay repeatedly ends up in harm's way. It’s understandable that the introspective Dez, who withdraws and equates letting her guard down with being weak, is afraid of losing the one person who understands her, tolerates her moodiness, and who adds meaning, love, and joy to her life. Lake explores their evolving relationship with rich detail while Dez goes through the biggest transformation of all.

Dez is so adept at concealing her inner turmoil that even she is not aware she's doing it. Having suffered serious traumatic events in her life including the loss of her beloved father, also a police officer, and her partner and close friend Officer Ryan Michaelson, Dez snaps and ends up suspended with her only alternatives being to see psychiatrist Marie Montague, or be kicked off the force. Reluctantly, the skeptical secretive Dez works with Marie. Can Marie save Dez from self-destructing, and going to a very lonely and isolated place where she denies her heart’s desire for fear of loss and rejection? Will the astute psychiatrist help Dez learn to bridge the gap in all of her severed relationships, including the ones with her mother Collette and her brother Patrick?

Can Marie help Dez believe Luella, Dez’s landlady and chief nurturer, who tells her, “You can’t hold onto someone so tight that you choke the life out of them” [p. 280]. Luella tries to convince Dez that loving and losing someone is painful, but avoiding love to avoid pain is not the answer. She also tells her surrogate daughter, “You are a strong person, Desiree Reilly, and you deserve to love and be loved. But you have to make a choice to take the chance” (p. 280).

Lori L. Lake’s completely satisfying action/romance novel will engage a full range of emotions that will leave the reader wanting more. No stone is left unturned as all the loose ends are tied up. The psychological journey of the characters’ growth and development, particularly Dez’s, is just as intriguing as the crime drama, murder investigation, and police work. Every character, no matter how small their role, has a place and reason for being in the story. Lake does not rush through her narrative, but with the perfect pace, 490 pages go by in a blink.

I recommend Under the Gun for the strong characterization, loveable characters, and absorbing plot. Anyone who enjoys a realistic look at police procedurals, romance, and psychological drama, will love following the story of Dez and Jay. Lake paints a vivid picture that allows the reader to jump into the story and become a part of Dez’s world. It is not surprising that the sequel, Have Gun We’ll Travel, is a finalist for a Golden Crown Literary Society 2006 Goldie Award. Under the Gun is a page-turner; read it and you will see what I mean.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

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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; 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. You can 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.

Lynne Pierce
Although she has traveled some, Lynne Pierce is a life-long resident of Virginia and has never felt a need to go far from home for very long. The last thirty-two years have been spent 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. Two dogs and three cats allow her to share their space as long as she behaves herself and promises not to bring any more of them home from the shelter….for now. 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 can be read on the Canadian Lesbian Fiction Addicts site and She welcomes comments from people who want to comment on her reviews as long as you do it in a genteel manner. You can reach Lynne at

Cheri Rosenberg
Cheri Rosenberg is a Registered Dietitian who in her spare time writes reviews for Independent Gay Writer, Midwest Book Review, and Just About Write. She is currently working on her upcoming novel A Closet in Syosset and assorted short stories. Cheri lives with her husband and three children in a suburb of New York. You can contact her at

Author Bios

Alex Alexander
Alex Alexander was born in rural Kentucky in 1960-something. Joining the Army was her ticket to education and an opportunity to get paid to be bossy.

After Desert Storm, Alex was assigned as a team leader to the drug interdiction team in her state National Guard organization, which meant hiking the hills of Tennessee with other misfits looking for marijuana and moonshine stills. When the futility of this endeavor dawned on her, she headed west to Colorado and lucked into her dream job. Creating beauty by building stone walls and lush landscapes, she designed and installed outdoor living areas in a stunning and tranquil space in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as part of a wonderful and supportive family organization.

Alex is currently in her last year of medical school at Bastyr University in the Seattle, Washington, area where she’ll graduate in 2006 with a doctorate in naturopathic medicine.

Karen D. Badger
Karen D. Badger, better known to her online fans as "kd bard," was born in Vermont at the end of the Hippie era. She is the second of five children and was raised by a divorced mother, who to this day remains one of her best friends. Karen graduated from college in 1978 with a B.A. in Drama. Later, she returned to school and in 1994 earned a B.S. in Mathematics. She currently works as an Engineer in the semiconductor field, and fills her spare time with writing, family and friends.

Married right after college, Karen worked full time while raising two sons who are now grown. A few years ago, writing became an escape when she underwent a much needed lifestyle change, in the process reinventing herself as an independent woman. In April of 2005, a beautiful baby boy came into her life when her first grandchild was born. Kyren is the apple of his Nona's eye. Karen never looks back: "If you look back, you'll trip over what's in front of you and fall flat on your face!" She looks forward to many fulfilling years of writing and watching her family grow.

Katherine V. Forrest
Two-time Lambda Literary Award winner Katherine V. Forrest is the author of the lesbian romantic classic Curious Wine as well as the ground-breaking Kate Delafield mystery series that includes the best-sellers Murder by Tradition, Amateur City, Sleeping Bones and Hancock Park. She lives in San Francisco.

Jennifer Fulton
New Zealand born, author Jennifer Fulton lives in the Midwest where she writes screenplays, lesbian romances and mysteries, and
historical fiction. After writing a bunch of best-sellers for Naiad, she took a hiatus from lesbian fiction in the late 1990s but missed writing her favorite escapist fiction and recently returned, contracting
several titles to both Regal Crest Enterprises and Bold Strokes Books. Jennifer has published eight lesbian novels, short stories in various anthologies, and will be releasing six new novels over the next year or so, including a brand new mystery series set in Colorado.

Lori L. Lake
Lori L. Lake and her partner of 24+ years are based in the snowy Minnesota Twin Cities area where she writes full time, edits anthologies, and teaches at The Loft Literary Center. She has completed her sixth novel, Snow Moon Rising (which is scheduled for publication in June). She is currently working on a mystery and planning for her fourth Gun Series book. In addition, she and Jennifer Fulton are laying plans to collaborate on a series of books about writing. Lori also presents seminars and workshops on writing topics such as dialogue, plot, the writing process, the writing life, mystery structure, and form and structure in the modern novel. When she's not working at her computer, you can find her either at the local movie house or curled up in a chair reading.
Web site:

Kimberly LaFontaine
When Kimberly LaFontaine's not at the coffee shop hashing out the plot for her next book, she spends most of her time chasing crime stories or writing about interesting people in her community as a staff writer for a major metropolitan newspaper in Texas. She hopes to someday break the big news story that every rookie reporter dreams about.
LaFontaine was born in Mobile, Ala., in 1979. She spent her childhood in Germany, where she first discovered her love of reading and writing fiction. She currently enjoys the hectic journalism life with her girlfriend, Bug, and their two adorable kitties in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Meghan O'Brien
Meghan O'Brien is the pseudonym of a 25-year-old writer living somewhere near Ann Arbor, Michigan. By day, she slays the dragons as a software developer at a dot com; her nights belong to writing, video games, and Ty, her partner of over five years. Meghan started writing stories almost as soon as she learned to manipulate a pencil and paper. Her first novel was Infinite Loop.

Meghan is currently hard at work on her next novel, as well as churning out sporadic short stories and novellas. In a perfect world, she would write until her fingers went numb.

Radclyffe, having at various times in her life wanted to be a cowboy, an astronaut, a detective, and a doctor, finally settled for being one and writing about the others. An author and a surgeon, she credits her parents for both her careers – her mother, having raised her on crossword puzzles and afternoon soaps, for her love of words and her fascination with the complexities of human relationships, and her father –  a shirt maker – for her skill at assembling a whole from many parts. These inherited talents have contributed significantly to both her writing and the practice of plastic surgery, since both constructing a plot and reconstructing a body part require fluidly of thought in the midst of creativity (also known as changing horses mid-stream).

After practicing surgery for thirty years while writing for pleasure “on the side,” she has decided in the last six years that it was time to reverse the process. Although still practicing surgery full-time, she hopes soon to spend all her time “working with words.”  To that end, in 2004 she established Bold Strokes Books, Inc, a publishing company focused on producing a diverse collection of lesbian fiction. Eleven new titles from six authors – some veterans and some exciting newcomers – are scheduled for 2005.

Rad draws on her experiences in medicine and the martial arts (she has a black belt in Ju Jitsu and a brown belt in Aikido) as a foundation for her romances as well her police procedural/action series. In addition to writing – a consuming passion – she collects lesbian pulps, enjoys photographing scenes for her book covers, and shares her life with her partner, Lee, and assorted canines.