May 2009
SCP      Please help support Just About Write
by purchasing your books through the
StarCrossed Productions
links on our pages. Thank you, wholeheartedly.

Title: A Pirate’s Heart
Author: Catherine Friend
ISBN-10: 1602820406 - ISBN-13: 978-1602820401
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available From: SCP Books,; and Bold Strokes Books,
Price: $15.95 - Pages: 316
Genre: Romance/Adventure/Lesbian

In A Pirates Heart, Catherine Friend skillfully puts us into a time warp where we embark on a journey with Thomasina Farris, a pirate commander of a small fleet. Scouring the Caribbean for treasure with Tommy, the reader learns that this pirate leader’s thirst for blood and a cutthroat life no longer appeals, and she is struggling to find a way out of the life she has been leading. When she rescues an escaped slave named Rebekah, the beautiful, dark-skinned woman throws Tommy into a tailspin with an instant attraction, as Tommy tries to maintain her position and control among her men.

Her influence is threatened by a blackheart named Avery Shaw, another pirate who is looking to bring fame and fortune to himself by plundering, torturing, and maiming without regard for whom he steps on along the way. When Shaw tries to take over as leader of his own and Tommy’s ships, Tommy must make a decision that could prove her undoing—or it could give her the freedom she longs for from the life she’s been leading.

The story seesaws back and forth in a swaying cadence, not unlike gentle sea waves, moving us between Tommy’s struggles and the struggles of an unlikely modern-day adventurer. Emma Boyd has had a long interest in the tale of Thomasina Farris and has even published a paper about her. Emma is convinced that a treasure map exists, which points to the location of Farris’ last and greatest treasure. However, Emma is not the only one looking for it. Pages of history are beginning to disappear from ancient books in libraries all over the country as a modern-day pirate tries to find the answer to the same question Emma is seeking.

Emma teams up with a private investigator, Randi Marx, in an attempt to find the pilferer—and the treasure map. Emma and Randi follow a trail all over the country in an attempt to get to the bottom of the mysterious disappearances, all the while hoping to find the location of the long-lost map and treasure themselves—before the thief does. And while they search, they struggle against an ever-growing attraction between them. As Randi and Emma close in on the thief, things take more than one unexpected turn and the realization that everything may not be what it seems baffles Emma.

Friend masterfully blends past and present to take us on a journey into a historical period filled with thrills, adventure, lore, and love, and adds a dash of modern day exploits, mystery, and romance for good measure. Avast, matey! This book will appeal to the pirate’s heart in everyone.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: A Question of Integrity
Author: Megan Magill
ISBN: 9781935053125
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises,
Available From: SCP Books,
Price: $14.95 - Pages: 159
Genre: Fiction/Drama

Jess Maddocks doesn’t have an exciting job…usually. She’s very talented at going into a business, finding out what is wrong with its operation and showing a way to fix the problem. It keeps her very busy, which compensates for her lack of a social life. What little spare time she has is spent with her brother Nick practicing their weapons skills for the Medieval reenactment tournements they both enjoy or puttering around in her garden. Everything changes when she is asked to do an investigation at Image Conscious and meets Rosalind Brannigan.

Jess is used to the hostile environment she finds at the company, but she’s caught by surprise when she responds to the overtures made by Rosalind. Both women are caught in a struggle between professional and personal integrity where they are approaching each other from opposite ends and there is no guarantee that they will meet in the middle. Jess finds herself drawn into a dangerous game of intrigue and blackmail where she will have to use all of her skills to save another person and then herself.

A Question of Integrity is advertised as the first in a new series. The writing flows well, the plot is paced correctly and there are some exciting scenes to keep the reader interested. It isn’t often that a woman gets to be a hero in the 21st century by being able to handle a Medieval sword, but it suits Jess quite well. A one word description of her would definitely be “spunky.”

There could have been a little more character development, but there is enough to sustain the story and the major characters will probably grow as the series continues. One different aspect to the story is that Jess suffers from a borderline eating disorder that impacts her perceptions of herself. This might seem strange since other characters in the book obviously find her attractive, but it’s very true to life since people who fall into this category often have unrealistic self images. It will be interesting to see if this line is followed in future stories since it’s a topic that isn’t usually dealt with in books, but is very much a part of many women’s lives.

Magill packs a lot of story into a few pages. It makes for a fast, but full read, and A Question of Integrity is worth a few hours of diversion.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: From Hell to Breakfast
Author: Joan Opyr
Publisher: Blue Feather Books, LTD
ISBN: 9780979412073
Available From: SCP Books,; and Blue Feather Books,
Price: $20.49 - Pages: 305
Genre: Mystery/fiction





Sam Hardy is dead. This must be understood or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am about to review. Sam went out in a blaze of glory after blowing up part of the sewer system of Cowslip, Idaho. His sister Bil (short for Wilhelmina) loved him dearly and also found him irritating beyond belief, which is what she told him the last time she saw him, and that explains why she’s having so much trouble dealing with his death. Otherwise she wouldn’t be stuffing herself with Vietnamese food every night and have that ridiculous tattoo right above her butt.

Joan Opyr takes her readers back to the characters she introduced in her novel Idaho Code. The Hardy family and their friends are still at the center of everything happening in their small town. Bil and her mother find a dead body that no one can explain; two of Bil’s sisters appear to be dating the same man, which is a disaster in the making; and, Sylvie, Bil’s girlfriend, has to deal with the fact that her mother has chosen to have her first lesbian affair with the biggest player in town, whose ex-husband has shown up to tell her that they never were divorced twenty-five years before.

If that’s not enough to keep the story moving, let’s throw in an illegal gambling establishment, a mystery that goes back to the Vietnam War and involves several key players, an evangelical preacher who is trying to take over the town and a healthy meth trade that is going on in the area. Bil wants to do nothing more than enjoy life with Sylvie, but her family won’t leave her alone and that includes Sam who, like Marley’s ghost, keeps popping up in her dreams with cryptic messages. There’s nothing quite like life in Cowslip, fortunately for everyone else.

Opyr’s strong suit is in her character development. These people seem real. They love and hate each other, praise and attack, undermine and support, all at the same time, just like in the real world. The reader can easily visualize each of them and comes to know their little quirks. There are plenty of those. The characters are also very funny, which keeps the story light, and makes it fun to read. Emma Hardy may be the most memorable character. She’s the mother no one wants to have, but many seem to get.

The story unfolds not in a linear direction, but more like a spreading pool of water, flowing in different directions all at the same time. It keeps the reader busy running from one development to another wondering how all of it is going to pull together. It’s difficult to know what genre to put From Hell to Breakfast in. There is a mystery in it, but it’s not a mystery novel. There is romance, but it’s not a love story. There is adventure, but nothing hair- raising until the very end. It might be proper to call it a character study because there are certainly plenty of those to follow, but that doesn’t quite capture the idea of the book either. Perhaps the best thing to do is call it fiction and let each reader decide where she will place it. If nothing else, the reader will have great fun while trying to figure it out.

PS. If the first two sentences sound familiar, they’re a shameful rip off of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It seemed appropriate to do it.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Last Chance at the Lost and Found
Author: Marcia Finical
ISBN: 9781932859287
Publisher: Bywater Books
Available From: Bywater Books,; and SCP Books,
Price: $13.95 - Pages: 321
Genre: Fiction





Last Chance at the Lost and Found is about growing up. It’s about thinking that you want something at one point in your life and discovering that you’re not really ready for it until later, after you’ve had a chance to learn some things. It’s also about the power of friends and struggling through life without giving up when things get tough.

The story follows twenty-five years in the life of Bunny LaRue. Bunny is beautiful and has a body toned on the beaches of California, so she is a natural to be a model in a racy catalog playing the “bad girl.” She spends her days posing and her nights working her way through the women in the lesbian bars. Bunny appears to be a golden girl who can do no wrong until things begin to go off course. She loses her job and the woman she loves desperately rejects Bunny because she doesn’t seem to have a proper purpose in her life.

Life just gets tougher as Bunny drifts in her personal and professional experiences without any sense of direction and comes to realize she is an alcoholic. The one constant in her life is her friend Michael who is always there to help her pick up the pieces, but, as she begins to turn her life around, Michael discovers he is HIV positive. Bunny struggles with Michael’s illness, her addiction and finally finding a career she’s good at, but she can’t escape the feeling that her life is hollow. When she gets another chance at love, Bunny gets to call on her life lessons to see if she is finally ready to make a relationship work.

Last Chance at the Lost and Found was the first winner of the annual Bywater Prize for Fiction and it’s easy to see why. This is a sophisticated and complex story. When it opens, Bunny LaRue is not a very attractive person. She lives too hard, is too self-centered and puts her own needs ahead of everyone else. It’s no wonder the woman she loves leaves her because it’s tempting for the reader to leave also.

An excellent thing about this novel though is to watch as Bunny transforms herself. Things don’t always go smoothly, but there is a sense that Bunny is learning from what happens to her, even negative events. It’s interesting to see her improve herself and her life as she grows with maturity and experience. The process will be very familiar to many women since they probably went through it themselves. By the end of the book, the reader will be pulling for Bunny to achieve what she is searching for, a meaningful relationship that brings love into her life.

Bywater Books appears to be a company that tries to produce books that don’t fit in the more usual mold of lesbian fiction. While telling a good story, the plots are often more complicated and thought provoking. It takes more effort to read these books because attention needs to be focused on what is happening. Last Chance at the Lost and Found certainly fits into that category. It’s well worth the time the reader will spend with the book.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: My Life With Stella Kane
Author: Linda Morganstein
ISBN-10: 1935053132 - ISBN-13: 978-1935053132
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises
Available From: SCP Books,
Price: $18.95 - Pages: 264
Genre: Historical Romance/ Lesbian

My Life With Stella Kane gives us a glimpse into the life of a rising Hollywood starlet and her circle of friends and acquaintances in an era when gays and lesbians were very much in the closet. The story opens in 1948. Motion picture moguls are scrambling to make the most of the end of an era of big stars and bigger movies.

When a young Nina Weiss arrives in Hollywood to work at her uncle’s studio for the summer, she meets Stella Kane, a young up-and-coming actress with star qualities. There is one small problem with Stella, though—she seems to have a mind of her own and knows how to use it. Because of this, Nina is assigned to “handle” the young actress and act as her publicist. Nina wants to get in, do her job, and get out, so she is very surprised at her sudden and total attraction to the beautiful Stella Kane.

When Nina’s summer stint is at an end, Stella tells her that she will return because she “belongs there.” So Stella doesn’t seem very surprised when, a few months later, Nina returns to a permanent position at the studio, having graduated from college and broken up with her boyfriend. Nina, as the story tells us, is not the same person she used to be.

It turns out that Nina has a knack for keeping young stars out of trouble with the media and a talent for crafting positive news hype about them. So when one of the gay male actors is threatened with having his liaisons exposed, Nina goes to work devising a relationship between Hollace Carter and Stella Kane. The ruse is tribute to the consummate actors that Stella and Hollie are, and it is such a media success that the studio insists that they take the relationship to the next level, with Stella and Hollie getting married.

While all this is taking place, Nina struggles to come to grips with her own feelings toward the beautiful starlet and comes to accept herself for who she really is. Once that’s been done, though, things do not easily fall into place for Nina and Stella. Because they must keep the subterfuge up and their fledgling relationship a secret, this triangle sets up housekeeping in a way that keeps the newspapers happy and the two women together—although never for an entire night.

The tale is told retrospectively, as the title suggests. But we are soon swept up into the account, allowing it to become our present as we experience it.

Morganstein has given us a glimpse into the Hollywood closet of the late 40s and early 50s through the life of Nina and Stella and their friends. Filled with Hollywood political struggles, relationships, characters, and secrets, My Life With Stella Kane is an entertaining read, as well as an informative glimpse into a Hollywood of the past.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Partners
Author: Gerri Hill
ISBN: 9781594931305
Publisher: Bella Books
Available From: Bella Books,; and
SCP Books,

Price: $14.95 - Pages: 231
Genre: Mystery/Romance

Partners is the third installment in the series of books featuring Police Detective Tori Hunter and her partner, Samantha Kennedy. Detective Casey O’Conner has joined Tori’s squad and is quickly becoming the best friend that Tori has never had. They have just begun to work on a case involving a serial killer who goes after women when O’Conner is assigned a new partner. Leslie Turner is going to have to get up to speed quickly if they’re going to stop the murders.

As they pick their way through some strange clues and even stranger people, there seem to be more questions than answers. One of those questions for Leslie is why she’s more interested in spending her free time with Casey and Tori than with her fiancé. Leslie is being attracted to Casey and she can’t understand why, so she turns to Sam for help since she went through the same situation. Casey feels that there is a hole in her life, and she would like to have a relationship like her friends share, but she doesn’t know if that is possible and certainly not with Leslie since she’s supposed to be straight. Casey and Leslie find themselves being distracted by their confused attraction for each other, and that could prove to be fatal because the killer is still lurking out there and he knows who they are.

The best part of Partners is the mystery involving the hunt for the serial killer. It’s a tightly written story with tension on every page as long as it sticks to the killings. There is a character named John Doe that is very well drawn and who offers a different aspect to the book. The culmination of the hunt is exciting, scary and totally unexpected. Where the book bogs down is in the romance. The write up on the back cover says that this is the last book in the series, which is probably a wise move.

How often is the reader supposed to accept the premise that a straight woman walks into a squad room, gets assigned a lesbian partner and suddenly discovers she doesn’t love her fiancé but she does love her partner? Once in a squad is possible, but two cases in a row stretches credibility. At times the romance gets in the way of the rest of the story. The more interesting personal development is the friendship between Tori and Casey. Both of them have been severely wounded by people in their pasts and don’t find it easy to open up to other people. To see two strong women learn to let down their guards and share their pain is an excellent character study.

As usual Gerri Hill provides a book that is quick and easy to read and is enjoyable. Partners follows the formula of the previous two books, which makes it somewhat predictable, but the mystery of the serial killer compensates for that. Once again Hill has provided readers with a few hours of escapism.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: The Color of Dust
Author: Claire Rooney
ISBN: 9781594931444
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: Bella Books,; and
SCP Books,

Price: $14.95 - Pages: 239
Genre: Historical romance

The Color of Dust is a story within a story. Carrie Bowden arrives from Chicago to see the property in Virginia that was willed to her by a grandmother she didn’t know she had. Carrie’s life in Chicago wasn’t very fulfilling so, when she finds she’s been left an old mansion and a considerable amount of land, staying in Virginia seems to be a way to start over. She’s concerned about moving to a more conservative area, especially in a small town, but meeting the beautiful antique dealer Gillian Dumfries might make it a risk worth taking.

Strange things begin to happen immediately and it becomes clear that there is a mystery involving the old house. Carrie is drawn into the story of her grandmother, a woman who had a reputation for being cold and heartless, but who was at the center of a story of passion between women in the early 20th century and the tragedy that could be evoked by that type of love. As spirits manifest themselves, Carrie finds herself living in two worlds. As she grows more accustomed to the past, the strength of Gillian’s love may be the only thing that can keep Carrie in the world where she belongs.

Rooney uses a modern story to set the reader up for a history lesson and there is a lot to learn in this book. Old plantation houses and the gentrified families that inhabit them often form the core of small town existence in the South and such is true of Columbia, Virginia. The reader will get a sense of that dynamic as Carrie brings the house back to life and the town acquires a spark with it. Underlying this is a harshness about the past that lurks near the surface of life and colors everything that happens. Rooney taps into this as she unravels the stories of Celia and Lilly and shows the brutal attitudes that could exist towards homosexuals.

By comparing the two stories, the reader will learn that attitudes have improved, but not necessarily by much. The purpose of the book is obviously to tell the story from the past, which results in less development for the characters in the present. There are several hints provided about both Carrie and Gillian that are never resolved and would have added to understanding them better, but there is enough told to carry them through the second story. There are several places where words are left out of sentences, which is irritating, but it doesn’t obstruct the story.

In all, The Color of Dust is a strong story about two pairs of women who pass through the same place, but at different times and with different results. There is romance and mystery with a touch of history, so the book is an entertaining way to spend a few hours.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: The Venus Vendetta
Author: Rose Pry
ISBN 978-1-883523-98-5
Publisher: Sprinsters Ink,
Available From: Bella Books,; and
SCP Books,
Price: $14.95 - Pages: 242
Genre: Mystery

The Venus Vendetta
tells the story of Reggie and Jazz, who were kidnapped from a commune by fundamentalists who wished to “save” them and to show them how to live a "true" Christian life. Reggie and Jazz were taken to The Enclave where they were subjected to physical and emotional abuse. In a voice reminiscent of author Joan Drury, Pry shows her readers the lasting emotional damage caused by this type of abuse. She also shows the strength of her protagonists, as they survive to become "part of the solution."

Edited by Katherine V. Forrest, The Venus Vendetta tells a story with an intricate plot that spans the globe. This is a gripping, page-turning read.
Reviewed by RLynne

Our Reviewers
Bios of Authors

Our Reviewers

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

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.

Cheri's Website:
Contact her at

Author Bios

Marcia Finical
Marcia Finical lives and works in New Mexico. Last Chance at the Lost and Found is her first novel.
Catherine Friend
Catherine Friend’s memoir, Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn, won a 2007 Goldie, and was a finalist for both a 2007 Lambda Literary Award and the Judy Grahn award. The Spanish Pearl and The Crown of Valencia both won 2008 Golden Crown Literary Society Goldies.

Friend is an author of award-winning children’s books and has written nonfiction as well.

She raises sheep in southeastern Minnesota with her partner of twenty-five years.

Gerri Hill
Gerri Hill lives in East Texas with her partner, Diane, and they like to spend time working in their gardens and woods. Hill has published thirteen books and won many awards. She expresses her love for nature by giving many of her books beautiful settings. She and Diane share their home with an assortment of cats and dogs. She can be reached at her Web site at

Linda Morganstein
Linda Morganstein is an award-winning fiction writer who also happens to be the product of a Borscht Belt childhood in the Jewish hotels of the Catskills. In the seventies, she dropped out of Vassar College and drove a VW van to California, where she lived in Sonoma County for many years.

She currently resides in the Twin Cities of Minnesota with her understanding partner and intrepid dog, Sherman.

Megan Magill
Megan Magill lives with her wife in a cottage in the English Cotswolds. By day she works in the field of investment management and writes by night. Megan's double life extends to her hobbies too. As a country girl she enjoys walking and riding in the idyllic landscape around her home. As a nerd she is drawn to the latest consoles and the enticing world of sci-fi. Luckily, the changeable English weather provides enough balance for her to enjoy both.

The second book in the Jess Maddocks series, A Question of Courage, is tentatively scheduled for November 2009. She can be reached at her email or at her Web site

Joan Opyr
Joan Opyr lives in Idaho with her wife and their two children. She is a graduate of North Carolina State University and reads Viking sagas for fun. She is a fan of Tolkien and often wishes she were a forensic archaeologist because she has a fascination with Iron Age bog bodies. Her first novel, Idaho Code, was a 2007 winner of the Golden Crown Literary Society Award.

Rose Pry
Rose Pry lives in Las Vegas with her partner of twenty-eight years and their sixteen-year-old daughter. She is one of the first female barbers in Nevada. The Venus Vendetta is her debut novel.

Claire Rooney
Claire Rooney lives on the East Coast of the United States where she is a computer analyst during the day and a writer at night. She has been a frequent collaborator and contributor to Sister Speak, a literary journal. She was the guest editor of the journal in 2007. Her Web site is at