April 2007
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Title: Coyote Sky
Author: Gerri Hill
ISBN: 1-594930-65-1
Publisher: Bella Books
Available From: StarCrossed Productions, and Bella Books,
Price: $13.95 - Pages: 241
Genre: Adventure/Romance/Lesbian

Gerri Hill has given us a beautifully drawn story in the dazzling setting of the high mountain desert of New Mexico in Coyote Sky, a 2007 Golden Crown Literary Society Award finalist in the Mystery/Thriller/Adventure category. Regional descriptions such as the red cliffs tinged with purple at sunset and a refreshing cascade waterfall are superbly described. The characters are just flawed enough to allow us to identify and sympathize with them, and Hill is masterful in revealing both their strengths and their weaknesses as the story progresses.

Kate Winters, author of a mainstream mystery series, arrives in the town of Coyote where she has reluctantly come to stay with her friend, Brenda, to try to overcome her writer's block. Brenda and Kate are long-time friends and Brenda is sometimes brutally honest with Kate, especially when it comes to Kate's seemingly dead-end relationship with her partner, Robin. Kate seems to let these opinions roll off her as if she were entirely immune; but deep down inside, Kate has her own questions about her relationship with Robin. Gradually, she begins to acknowledge that there has never been that special spark between them. There has never been much romance either.

As she settles in, surrounded by the beauty of the red cliffs and the deep blue sky, she finds herself unable to maintain resisting Brenda's opinions, resisting Brenda's eccentric artist friends, Sunshine and Harmony, and, most especially, resisting Lee Foxx, the local unconventional sheriff with an affinity for the younger women who flock to Coyote's river every summer. It is evident to Kate that Lee has no intention of ever settling down and this infuriates Kate to no end, especially as the two women start spending more and more time together. When Lee Foxx takes on the task of tour guide as a favor to Brenda, Kate's emotions become a jumble as she is forced to examine her relationship with Robin in light of her conflicting feelings for Sheriff Foxx.

Added to her personal turmoil is the professional turbulence that Kate experiences from her writer's block. When Brenda and Lee both suggest that Kate isn't able to write about her characters with any passion because the main female character is a closeted lesbian, Kate is at first dismayed. But as Kate begins to open to new possibilities, she finds her inspiration and begins working again. Her "what if's" turn into flowing words allowing Kate to settle into her new life and to find some measure of peace--until Robin wreaks havoc when she shows up unexpectedly for Kate's birthday--causing Kate to realize that she must make a choice: loyalty to a relationship she seriously doubts or exploring the new feelings and emotions that she is just beginning to acknowledge. As for the Sheriff, she is at odds and confused herself, and she wonders if she could possibly be falling in love for the first time in all her 30 years.

The reader will be on the edge of her seat wondering if Kate and Lee will ever realize that they are meant to be together, in spite of their history and their baggage. Will Sunshine's nebulous predictions come to pass? Or will everyone take the safer road and go back to the lives they have always known--the path of least resistance?

The intensity and the passion of the characters are offset by some very humorous dialogue between Kate and the Sheriff, making this book truly a delight to read on many different levels. The adventure of the high desert region, the romantic encounters between two very different people, and the passion and humor portrayed all make Coyote Sky a must-read.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Finders Keepers
Author: Karin Kallmaker
ISBN: 1-59493-072-4
Publisher: Bella Books, Inc.
StarCrossed Productions, and Bella Books,
Pages: 254 - Price: $13.95
Genre: Lesbian Romance





If you long to read a life-affirming, feel-good-about-the-body-you've-got tale, that includes information and motivation for improving your lifestyle choices, then Karin Kallmaker's Finders Keepers is for you. The icing on the permissible small sliver of cake is the sexy and truly romantic love story. Finders Keepers is deservedly a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award 2007 and Karin Kallmaker is truly a gifted romance writer. This author not only spices it up in the bedroom, for a satisfying and calorie-burning experience, but she manages to educate her readers without them even realizing it.

"Even though [Marissa] didn't want the large brownie and the whipped mocha with real sugar that Ocky [her friend and business partner] was going to consume, she still felt a pang of resentment over the matter of genetics. It wasn't fair but whining didn't burn calories" (p. 10). Most women who weren't born with a speedy metabolism would wholeheartedly agree. Marissa Chabot, a computer geek and vested partner in an on-line computer dating service, is funny, loveable, and round, which means there's more to love. With self-deprecating humor, Marissa soothes her soul through M&Ms and Oreos, self-talk, and letter compositions to the key people in her life. Despite being thirty-four-years old, and feeling like a "fawn caught in her mother's Mack truck headlights" (p. 108), Marissa is determined to continue to find things she likes about herself, no matter what her mother thinks. This is not an easy feat for a woman with low self-esteem, a propensity for weight gain, and a huge appetite for food, love, and acceptance.

When a pleasure cruise to Tahiti ends in a nightmare, Marissa finds herself shipwrecked with a tall, dark, gorgeous woman intent on saving the world, or at the very least, Marissa's life. In a magical, whirlwind romance on a tropical island, Marissa sees herself in a whole different light through Linda Bartok's eyes. So begins her journey of discovering the path to happiness. Marissa vows, "I don't want to be a helpless fat chick for the rest of my life" (42). Learning the hard way, through nearly dying, a breaking heart, sweat, food deprivation, and tears, Marissa figures out what is truly important on her way to a healthy and happy lifestyle, and hopefully, to the arms of the woman she loves. In a journey worth taking with a woman who never gives up even in the face of adversity, Finders Keepers satisfies the hunger in all of us to be loved for who we are and not for what we look like.

Linda Bartok is beautiful; she breaks men's hearts; she can get any woman she wants; and yet, she struggles with her past, which threatens to stand in the way of a meaningful and lasting relationship. It's because of Marissa that Linda is determined to fight her demons before claiming her heart's desire. Who would have thought that a shipwreck, fate, and finding your soul mate could change your life forever?

Karin Kallmaker once again has given us food for thought through extensive research on the current theories about dieting and exercise. In addition, we get to enjoy two admirable women's tales of triumph in the face of critical mothers, the skewed importance of beauty, and the world at large, in a truly inspirational novel. Even women who've never had issues with their weight will want to read Finders Keepers because Kallmaker has a way of depicting emotions that we can all relate to and learn from. Sometimes it takes a novel to motivate one to adopt healthy eating habits and Finders Keepers is truly a find that this reviewer is going to keep and recommend.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

Title: Flight Risk
Author: Kim Baldwin
ISBN: 1-933110-68-6
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions, and Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 - Pages: 288
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Intrigue/Romance

With each new book Kim Baldwin improves her craft and her storytelling. Flight Risk, her newest novel, has heated action and vibrant depictions that make the reader feel as though she is right in the middle of the story. The author sustains the heightened suspense throughout the book, keeping our heart racing.

Travel agent Blayne Keller witnesses a mob hit, and the mafia is trying to eliminate her so she will not testify. The local FBI in Chicago is charged with shielding her until she goes into the witness protection program, but there is a leak somewhere on the inside, and Blayne's life is clearly in danger. Beautiful elusive Alexi Nikolos, a WITSEC inspector, comes out of forced retirement to protect Blayne. Their first meeting is under unusual circumstances when the airplane they are both traveling on has a bomb on board that blows a big hole in the side. This event really kicks the novel into high gear.

Flight Risk is fast moving with crisp dialogue and effective use of the characters' thoughts and emotions, and this reviewer could not put the book down. The author definitely did her background research because the criminal procedures are authentic and believable. As an added bonus, Baldwin builds sexual tension between the two main protagonists, but since Alexi takes her job of protecting Blayne seriously, we are kept on edge for most of the book. Baldwin, not known for highly erotic scenes in her romances, does an excellent job of engaging all of the reader's senses with minimal graphic language.

Baldwin outdid herself with Flight Risk. In this reviewer's opinion, it is her best storytelling to date. I highly recommend this thrilling story.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: Flight Risk
Author: Kim Baldwin
ISBN: 1-933110-68-6
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions, and Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 - Pages: 288
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Intrigue/Romance

Flight Risk is standard Kim Baldwin fare - suspenseful, adventurous and romantic. In her fourth novel, Baldwin proves once again that she is one of the more accomplished writers in lesbian fiction. It's easy to understand why she has a growing fan base.

Blayne Keller is living a very routine life as a travel agent until the day she accidentally witnesses a murder committed by a Mafia don. Then she has to start running, literally for her life. It becomes clear that the FBI and the Witness Protection Program are not going to be able to protect her after more than one attempt on her life is almost successful, including having a plane blown up around her. That brings in Agent Alexi Nikolos. She can keep Blayne alive to testify if she can just get her to cooperate. The first few days Alexi has to worry about outwitting Blayne's plans to escape as much as she does eluding the men who are pursuing them. Once Blayne accepts that Alexi truly is her best hope for survival, they can focus on that, but then there is another distraction. Blayne and Alexi are being drawn to each other magnetically, which is fine with Blayne, but Alexi is fighting against it as hard as she can. Because of past experience, Alexi cannot accept that she can successfully protect Blayne if they get involved in a relationship and she is determined to keep Blayne alive. As their travels take them across the US and Canada, then into Europe, both women become more frustrated with the impossibility of their situation and the hunters get closer all the time. Which race will be won - the one to keep Blayne safe to testify or the one to control their emotions? Maybe both, maybe neither.

Baldwin knows how to tell a story. Her detail is vivid and creates environments that live within the pages of the book. She's mastered the technique of having tension build in peaks and dips to a final resolution. The conclusion is a tad anticlimactic after the big confrontation, but acceptable, if predictable. Her characters are attractive and appealing and provide just the right amount of sexual tension. If anything, her stories are becoming perhaps too formulaic. If you've read her other books, you already know the traits of her characters and the basic progression of the story. Flight Risk could just as easily be her first book Hunter's Pursuit. Baldwin is an accomplished writer and it would be nice to see her stretch herself some and try a new story. It's difficult to argue with success however and Baldwin's formula is a success. When you buy one of her books, you may already know what you're getting, but you also know it's going to be well told and entertaining. As a reader, that makes a purchase worthwhile.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Hit By A Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying &
Love the Barn
Author: Catherine Friend
ISBN: 1569242984
Publisher: Avalon Publishing, Inc./Marlowe & Company,
Available From: Online bookstores
Price: $14.95 - Pages: 256
Genre: Lesbian Memoir/Humor

No one was more surprised than Catherine Friend when her long-time partner informed her that she'd always dreamed of being a farmer. Early on in this hilarious memoir, the author writes, "Farming had never been my dream. My dream was to grow my writing career into something I could call 'successful,' whatever that was. I'd already sold two children's books and a handful of magazine stories. I was hungry for more" (p. 6).

But Melissa's dream had merit, and Catherine believed she could help the dream come true. And so, "The classic face of farming in Grant Wood's American Gothic was about to get a facelift: two thirty-something women in bib overalls holding pitchforks" (p. 6).

Devoting a great deal of time, energy, and work to their project, the two women researched farming, bought land in southern Minnesota, built a house, and settled in to raise sheep, chickens, and grapes for wine. Apparently that was the easy part. From auspicious beginnings, the road they embark upon is filled with a learning curve so steep that shoveling manure and mucking horse stalls might have been easier. While Melissa's dream ascended, the livestock, crops, and natural disasters seem to conspire to make Catherine's life miserable. Living off the land wasn't at all the romantic idyll so often put forth.

By turns hilarious and sobering, touching and surprising, Catherine Friend's memoir tells the tale of two thirty-somethings who not only have to learn to love the barn, but also to find their way back to one another after such a huge life-change nearly sideswipes them for good. It's a terrific story, very well-told, and is cram-packed full of humor, insight, and a zest for life that can't be vanquished.

If you only read one memoir this year, make this be the one. I give it my highest recommendation.
Reviewed by Lori L. Lake

Title: Misfortune's Friend
Author: Sarah Aldridge
ISBN: 0-930044-67-3
Publisher: A&M Books (originally from Naiad)
Distributed by A&M Books (
Price: $12.95
Pages: 296
Genre: Historical Romance/Lesbian

Misfortune's Friend is Sarah Aldridge's seventh novel. Set between the two Great Wars, the story begins in the late childhood of a young woman named Althea. The story opens with the intriguing first line "Althea could not remember herself before the iron brace." [Pg. 1]

Althea's parents have died, leaving her to the care of her wealthy grandmother, who finds her to be a burden because she has a handicap and wears a heavy leg brace. All of Althea's remaining family, spearheaded by her grandmother, think that she will never be able to accomplish much because of her disability, but her unmarried Aunt Marjorie consents to take her in, and gives her as much positive reinforcement as she is able. Althea wants for nothing and she thrives during her years attending a reputable school with academic challenges. When at home, she delights in Marjorie's company and the newfound freedom that her aunt gives her, which contrasts with the restrictive life she lived with her grandmother.

Marjorie's female friends fascinate Althea. They often frequent her aunt's house in Washington, D.C., where she is the Director of the Red Cross. Over time, Althea comes to understand that some of these women are more than friends to Marjorie, but she also understands that her aunt's relationships are usually short lived. She suspects that this is because the one person that Marjorie really loves is Janet Henshaw, an Englishwoman that Althea meets soon after moving in with Marjorie.

When Mrs. Henshaw visits for the first time, she also introduces a new friend to the household. A young woman in her twenties, Elsie is an up and coming political figure. She comes to Washington to work at the Disarmament Conference at which Mrs. Henshaw also serves as a translator.

Althea is smitten by Elsie. But Elsie has no interest in Althea, seeing her only as a child—a child with a disability. Through this encounter, Althea realizes that she may never find a love in her life that will bring her the fulfillment for which she longs. In order to combat the feelings of loneliness and inadequacy that this leaves her with, Althea focuses more on gaining her independence in spite of her limitations.

Attracted to the field of economics, Althea makes her way to London to study, where she again encounters Mrs. Henshaw and a host of other characters that Mrs. Henshaw gathers to herself—young people, political dissidents and other needy people that she tries to help.

It is at Mrs. Henshaw's that Althea meets Fern, an aspiring actress. As the attraction between the two young women grows and flourishes, Althea realizes that their relationship challenges Mrs. Henshaw to look at the relationship with Marjorie that she left behind all those years ago. They find that Marjorie has been ailing and needs someone—especially Mrs. Henshaw—to help her recover. In the end, it is Althea who confronts the older woman and forces her to admit where her heart lies.

Misfortune's Friend is set in a precarious time, and the historical thread of politics weaves throughout the story, accented by some of the other characters that gravitate toward Mrs. Henshaw. Aldridge's writing style is archaic compared to today's tighter writing, but her stories are still as fascinating and appealing as they were when she first wrote them. Giving us a flavor of the times in the United States and in England, Aldridge tells the tale of a young woman who not only finds love and acceptance for herself, but also discovers the courage to fight for love and acceptance for an aunt she has grown to love and appreciate.

This wonderful account shows how people come to terms with who they are and how they need to make their way in the world—and how differently that can happen from one generation to the next. This classic tale by a great lady of lesbian literature deserves to be added to any library.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: More Than Paradise
Author: Jennifer Fulton
ISBN: 9781933110691
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions, and Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 - Pages: 220
Genre: Adventure Romance

Jennifer Fulton has started 2007 with an adventure romance that is topical, fast paced and lushly descriptive. The most intriguing aspect of the story is the amount of research that was obviously done into the world of what were once called mercenaries, but now travel under the umbrella of "private security firms."

Dr. Charlotte Lascelles has been offered the adventure of her life. A pharmaceutical company has hired her to join an expedition going to the Foja Mountains of New Guinea to hunt for new plants and animals that could hold the secrets to solving many illnesses. Charlotte's life in the US is sterile by any calculations. She has her friends, but an experience with an abusive partner as taught her to wall most of her emotions behind of façade of cool professionalism. She's ready for a little excitement with the chance of making an important discovery. Unfortunately, she finds herself sharing a tent with Ash Evans, former military officer, soldier of fortune and womanizer par excellence. Charlotte has seen Ash in action and she represents everything she finds unappealing in a woman, except that she is so appealing. Ash is hoping to make enough off of this job to finally retire to her plantation and she certainly isn't looking for a relationship, but she can't seem to keep her mind off of Charlotte and has serious doubts about them spending so much time together. As they work through what is developing between them, the story follows them through steamy bars into steamy jungles and finally into steamy passion. People who like romantic adventure will find plenty of it in this book.

The story in More Than Paradise follows a predictable development for lesbian fiction - women meet, women have conflict, women deal with whether or not they will be able to overcome the conflict. What makes this book worth reading more than some others is everything else in the story. Fulton has done a remarkable job of explaining the shadowy world of private security companies and how they are playing a role in world events, from Blackwater Security in Iraq to the part these companies have played in numerous civil wars and suppressions of native people in Asia, Africa and Latin America. She has also captured the struggle that is going on between environmentalists, developers and governments in the battle over preservation v. economic interests. Then there is the issue of disappearing rainforests and the race to discover what they hold before they disappear. Fulton doesn't harp on these issues, but reveals just enough to make the reader want to go to other sources to find out more about what is going on. One of her most clever devices is a character named Bruce the Roo who sounds very much like a Steve Irvin-type character gone slightly mad from waging his crusade for the environment and indigenous people. The scenery is ultimately what sells the book though. Fulton's description of the jungle with its vegetation and animal life is intense and paints such a vivid picture that you can practically smell the orchids and feel the mist coming off of the waterfalls. It's a perfect setting for a story of a woman who is slightly untamed herself and the other woman who definitely needs to release her inhibitions and learn to live.

Fulton has published a number of books under various pen names. This is one of her best.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Reiko's Garden
Author: Brenda Adcock
ISBN: 978-1-932300-77-2
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $15.95
Pages: 204 pages
Genre: Lesbian Fiction

Brenda Adcock expertly conveys a powerful and moving story about hope and survival in Reiko's Garden, her second novel. It is effectively told from the point of view of Callie Owen and features her life growing up in the mountains of Tennessee beginning from age ten in 1949 to the present, 55 years later. The book showcases her accidental but special friendship with a young widow, Reiko Sanders, a Japanese woman who married an American GI. The story also touches on a very dark period in American history - the treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

When Reiko's Garden begins, Callie, her partner, Jean, of 30 years and their grown children, return to Frost Valley for Reiko's funeral. Callie has not been back to visit for years and has grown estranged from her siblings as well as lost track of Reiko's small family. She intends to pay her respects and leave the next day, but a sudden storm strands them. While waiting out the storm, Callie recounts her past and is confronted with a challenge for the future. In subsequent pages, Callie shares her life and her deep connection with Reiko, a bond that altered the lives of two very different women and shaped Callie's life profoundly.

Adcock does an exceptional job of balancing the pain of prejudice with the bonds of friendship. We see both life's cruelties and life's joys as we learn about Callie's and Reiko's lives. The author paints a vivid picture of life in the Appalachian Mountains without any sugar coating; the language is real, and the events are unforgiving. We also experience the profound trust a child places in an adult when they are struggling with the loss of their parents and the break up of their family. As a young teen, Callie found a deep and abiding friendship in Reiko, and it helped her to endure especially when she discovered that she liked girls more than boys sexually. In turn, Callie ignored the fear and ignorance that others in the valley expressed and refused to shun Reiko because she was considered the "enemy" by the valley's inhabitants. This friendship lasts a lifetime for these two women even when Callie leaves home, and the author skillfully interconnects their lives throughout the novel.

Reiko's Garden is one of those books that when you finish it, you want more. It is uplifting, full of optimism, and highlights what we all look for in life, unconditional love and acceptance. It is gutsy in its telling because it is genuine, sincere, and bold. This is not a typical lesbian novel or even a conventional story about friendship. Nothing about Callie and Reiko is standard fare, and that is why Reiko's Garden is a must read.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

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

A Historical Novel that reads like an epic adventure!

Snow Moon Rising is an intimate glimpse of the seasons of Mischka Gallo's life. From her happy childhood, in spite of social injustice and bigotry against the Roma people (derogatorily referred to as Gypsies), Mischka maintains her innocence through her mid-teens. Only later does reality harden her. She displays a zest for life and heroic strength, believing that, "Everyone should feel the love, enjoy the exhilaration life afforded… [O]ver time she came to realize that each soul needs its own private place and solitude to nourish both joy and pain" (p. 2). It is this optimism that allows Snow Moon Rising to inspire us, rather than let us be defeated by the malice Mischka faces.

Many fictional stories are based on the atrocities of Hitler's regime during World War II, but Lori L. Lake uses an uncommon perspective, telling the story from the Roma and German point of view, and then adding a refreshing twist. Without gratuitous sex or violence, Lake succeeds in writing an emotionally charged, action-packed, and authentic story. Her tight, crisp narrative flows seamlessly as Mishka, at eighty, recounts her life's experiences to her fifteen-year-old grandson, Tobar. As the events unfold, it's easy to imagine her world. Mischka says to Tobar, "I don't want to end your childhood with sad stories, but remember, after darkness there is always light. Just like after the moon disappears, the sun always rises" (p. 5). Throughout Lake's novel, the theme that resonates most isn't the bleakness you might expect, but rather, hope.

The relationship between Mischka and Pauline (Pippi) Stanek, as friends and lovers, spans seventy-one years. Pippi is the sister of a wounded AWOL German soldier, Emil. The Roma clan adopted Emil when Mischka was a child, and he became a beloved cousin of Mischka. It is through Emil that Mischka and Pippi meet for the first time. The connection and kinship they feel is immediate. The two young girls make a vow to remain friends, forever bonded by heart, spirit, and soul. It seems theirs was an unlikely union: not only was homosexuality considered a sin punishable by death, but also both women end up on opposite sides during the war. Pippi knew Hitler to be the madman that he was, but what choice did she have when the Third Reich summoned her and ordered her to serve at a labor camp? One wonders how many unwilling German guards and soldiers were as much a victim of the war as the prisoners.

Snow Moon Rising is a page-turner because Lake carefully balances the storyline, choosing only the scenes that move the plot along. The immediacy and transparency, as the story unfolds, allow the reader to engage both emotions and intellect. The reader not only understands the horrid situation—but also feels deeply along with Mischka, her people, and Pippi as well. The narrative summaries don't lecture, but rather convey feelings, making the scenes compelling. This reviewer imagines what it must have been like in Mischka's camp: the sounds, the smells, the tastes. Even though written in English, you feel like they are speaking a foreign language, without having to sift through a lot of cumbersome dialect. The Roma and German phrases add to the story and set the tone for readers who are fluent in any language.

One would think it depressing to be Mischka in those days. A Roma woman was like chattel without civil rights; however, to watch Mischka before she was forced into marriage, and later, thrown into a concentration camp, she was the light in a dark world. She maintained her dignity in the face of inhumane treatment as her means to fight the enemy. The way Lake captures the heart of this admirable woman is the reason Snow Moon Rising reminds this reviewer of a photograph. Mischka thinks, "Memories surfaced, and pictures rose up from hidden recesses, not in the sepia tones she so often remembered, but stark, bright, vital, and as colorful as modern photographs" (p. 5). This is a fair description of how Lake tells, and shows, Mischka's story with clear and vivid detail, which remains bright despite her often dismal surroundings.

With an impressive bibliography at the back of the book, Lake's extensive research is rewarded by the vivid and heart-rending account of what life was like for the Roma "Gypsies" during WWII. Snow Moon Rising is easily Lori Lake's most accomplished work to date. The novel has already won the Alice B. Reader's Appreciation Award 2007 and is nominated for numerous other accolades. Fans of fiction containing historical truth will cherish this novel, and it would be a fine addition to any library.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

Title: The Weekend Visitor
Author: Jessica Thomas
ISBN: 1-594930-54-6
Publisher: Bella Books
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $13.95 - Pages: 220
Genre: Mystery/Lesbian

Jessica Thomas gives us another great Alex Peres mystery in The Weekend Visitor. Alex, the very intelligent and funny private detective, literally trips over the murder victim when the body is deposited unceremoniously in her garage. But before the murder, there is another strange mystery for Alex to unravel.

Called upon to investigate a rape, Alex becomes more involved than she'd like to be with the peculiar Mary Sloan, the Provincetown local that everyone avoids as much as possible for fear of being called into service hauling her boat. Alex finds Mary in a relationship, the nature of which is in question, with an attractive young woman named Maureen Delaney. Maureen is 20 years Mary's junior and Alex is just a little intrigued to find out what is really going on between the two women. Maureen's accusation of rape against an unknown assailant is filled with elusive details that Alex must decipher. Maureen tells Alex that she was drugged and taken to a house by a dark-haired "pirate." The man is unknown; that is, until Maureen finally reveals that she may have had some dealings with him in the past, and the situation is made even more curious when Alex discovers that Maureen is pregnant, but won't go to the police about the attack.

When the trail finally leads to the wealthy Sanhope family with Provincetown ties, Alex finds out more than she cares to know about them, and about how Mary and Maureen are tied to the family. The controlling matriarch, Grace Sanhope, creates havoc in all of their lives as Alex tries to get to the bottom of what really happened to Maureen.

Many of the Provincetown characters are back to captivate and entertain us, not least of which is Alex's wonderful dog, Fargo. And when Alex finally starts to close in on a suspect, she and Fargo find themselves in a great deal of danger that leaves us in a real cliff hanger, wondering if they will make it out of their precarious situation alive. This tale takes twists and turns until it finally reveals the unlikely murderer and brings the story of Mary and Maureen to an inevitable conclusion.

In the midst of all the posturing and trauma, though, we are happy to find that Alex has settled into a very warm and sexy relationship with Cindy, whom we met in the previous Alex Peres mystery. Cindy is ensconced in her new job at the bank and in her bungalow, rented from Alex's Aunt Mae. Cindy proves to be Alex's support as she endeavors to find out what's really going on among the P-town locals in The Weekend Visitor.

Thomas continues to delight and entertain us with her Alex and Fargo characters and we are happy for Alex that she has finally found a lasting love interest. Alex's antics sometimes provoke laugh-out-loud responses. At other times, she makes us concerned for her life and leaves us wondering who the real criminal is. This newest addition to the series is one that will not disappoint fans and should add to Thomas' list of Alex and Fargo devotees.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Wasted Heart
Author: Lynn Galli
ISBN: 1598009591
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $13.95
Pages: 233
Genre: Crime Drama/Romance

Sometimes a girl just can't get a break. You leave your family and friends to start a new life and now someone is trying to kill you.

Austy Nunziata left a good job and a supportive group of friends in Virginia to settle in Seattle. The reason for such a drastic change is that Austy is in love with her best friend Willa and Willa is married to another friend Quinn, so the wisest thing to do to keep herself from making a mistake and getting hurt more was to leave. Unfortunately, Willa, who doesn't realize how Austy feels, is the head of a software company with offices in Seattle, so they still see each other frequently. Austy hopes that by throwing herself into her new job as a district attorney and avoiding Willa that she can get over her feelings.

Her new case would seem to be the distraction she needs. She has been appointed as the lead prosecutor in a major racketeering case and that has brought her in contact with FBI agent Elise Bridie. At first Elise provides expert testimony in the case, but when someone mugs Austy and threatens to kill her, Elise finds herself acting as a bodyguard. The attack also brings the Virginia "posse" running to Seattle to provide support, protection and a shove in the right direction for Austy to capitalize on her relationship with Elise. Austy isn't sure which is the greatest problem - the meddling by her friends, her uncertain relationship with Elise or the fact that someone is trying to kill her. What Austy does know is that she needs to get control of her life and make a decision. Does she stay in Seattle, build a new life and possibly a relationship with Elise and maybe end up dead, or does she return to the nurturing environment that her friends offer in Virginia and live with the pain of seeing Willa every day knowing that she can't have her?

Wasted Heart is an entertaining book, but not really because of the lead characters. Austy and Elise tell a pretty standard story for lesfic. It's the supporting cast that adds the charm. Austy's Virginia friends are quite a group - Willa, who everyone loves because of her generosity and genuine concern for her friends; Quinn, Willa's partner and an ex-professional athlete who would protect Austy from any harm; Lauren, Austy's longest and best friend who is insistent that Austy return to Virginia to become her law partner; and Jessie, a true woman-chaser, but the staunchest friend anyone could hope for who is the only one who truly sees what is in Austy's heart. There is a humorous scene when Austy comes into court to confront the criminal who is trying to have her killed and she can hardly walk for the protective ring her friends have formed around her. And what a bunch of matchmakers when they realize Austy is interested in Elise. These and similar characters in Wasted Heart make it an enjoyable read.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Our Reviewers
Bios of Authors

Our Reviewers

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

Contact her at

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

Anna's Web site: Contact her at

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

Arlene is also a fiction editor. Contact her at

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

Write to her at

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

Contact Lori at

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

Brenda Adcock
A product of the Appalachian region of Eastern Tennessee, Brenda now lives in Central Texas, near Austin. After completing her graduate studies in Eastern European History in 1971, she taught college, worked as a graphic artist, a public relations specialist for the military and a display advertising specialist before returning to college to earn her teaching certification. For the last twenty-plus years she has taught world history and political science.

Brenda and her partner of ten years, Cheryl, are the parents of three grown children and one still in high school, and are the proud grandparents of two. Rounding out their home are four temperamental cats. When she is not writing, Brenda creates stained glass and shoots pool.

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.

Kim Baldwin
Kim Baldwin is the author of four books, including the new intrigue/romance Flight Risk, and the romances Whitewater Rendezvous and Force of Nature. Her debut novel, Hunter's Pursuit, was a finalist for a 2005 GCLS Award in the Intrigue/Mystery category and Whitewater Rendezvous is a finalist for a 2007 GCLS Award in the Romance category.

She has also contributed short stories to four books in the BSB Erotic Interludes series: Stolen Moments, Lessons in Love, Extreme Passions, and the new release, Road Games.

Kim worked in network news as a journalist for twenty years before moving to the north woods of Michigan. She is currently at work on her fifth novel, the sizzling romance Focus of Desire, which will be released in October by Bold Strokes Books.

Catherine Friend
Catherine Friend farms in Minnesota with her partner of twenty-two years. The author of five children's books, with a sixth forthcoming in 2007, Catherine would rather write than wrangle sheep, but is proud she can do both. She has a B.A. in Economics and Spanish, and an M.S. in Economics, neither of which she has used for years. She has held an impressive array of odd jobs, such as packing cheese and sausage gift boxes, weeding on an organic vegetable farm, and working an assembly line packing boxes of Christmas decorations. For many years she taught writing for the Institute of Children's Literature. She works as a freelance editor, gives writing workshops, volunteers on the local library board, does chores on the farm, and wears an Elvis watch.

Jennifer Fulton
Jennifer Fulton was born in New Zealand and lives in the Midwest US with her partner and their animals. Besides writing, she devotes her time to her daughter and her hobbies. Fulton has published over fifteen novels under her pen names Jennifer Fulton, Rose Beecham and Grace Lennox. She received a 2006 Alice B. award for her body of work and is a multiple Golden Crown Literary Society "Goldie" Award recipient. Jennifer can be contacted at

Lynn Galli
Lynn Galli lives in the Pacific Northwest and works full-time managing a presentation team for a financial services company. In her spare time she indulges in her two passions - consulting for entrepreneurs and writing fiction. She also enjoys kayaking and landscaping projects around her home.

Gerri Hill
Gerri Hill lives in East Texas, deep in the pines, with her partner, Diane. They share their log cabin and adjoining five acres with two labs, Max and Zach, and four cats. A huge vegetable garden that overflows in the summer is her pride and joy. Besides giving in to her overactive green thumb, Gerri loves to "hike the woods" with the dogs, a pair of binoculars (bird watching), and at least one camera! For more, visit Gerri's Web site at

Karin Kallmaker
Karin Kallmaker is the Goldie, Lammy and Alice B. award winning author of more than twenty romances and fantasy-science fiction novels. Short stories have appeared in anthologies from Alyson, Circlet and Haworth. Her writing career began with the venerable Naiad Press and continues with Bella Books.

Her most recent published novel is Finders Keepers. A joint anthology of erotica with Radclyffe, In Deep Waters, is in editing and due for release this fall. She is currently working on The Kiss That Counted and Forge of Virgins.

She and her partner are the mothers of two and live in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is descended from Lady Godiva, a fact she’ll share with anyone who will listen. She likes her Internet fast, her iPod loud and her chocolate real.

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, Snow Moon Rising is currently a 2007 Golden Crown Literary Award finalist, as is the anthology Romance for LIFE (Co-Editor with Tara Young). 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

Jessica Thomas
Jessica Thomas is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she attended Girls' Preparatory School. She later graduated cum laude from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, with a bachelor's degree in literature. After early retirement, Miss Thomas spent a bit of time doing some rather dull freelance assignments and ghostwriting two totally depressing self-help books, always swearing someday that she would write something that was just plain fun. When her friend, Marian Pressler "gave" her Alex and Fargo, Jessica took them immediately to heart and ran right to her keyboard. Miss Thomas makes her home in Connecticut with her almost cocker spaniel, Woofer. Her hobbies include gardening, reading and animal protection activities.