September 2006
We have two reviews this month for 18th and Castro.

Title: 18th & Castro
Author: Karin Kallmaker
ISBN: 159493066X
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $13.95    Pages: 208 pages
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Romance

After penning more than 20 novels, award-winning author Karin Kallmaker has once again given the reader a fresh look at romance. 18th & Castro is a witty and sexy collection of short stories with a unique, creative, and fun approach.

18th & Castro is a compilation of stories that occur in one apartment building in San Francisco's Castro District on the biggest night of the year, Halloween. They include accounts of couples, singles, women looking for love, and those just wanting a one night stand. The individual vignettes embrace threesomes, strangers, friends, and lovers. Some are erotic and steamy. Others are loving, sweet, and full of yearning. But all of the tales are short, concise, and to the point.

Kallmaker has capitalized on her trademark in this book, her versatility as a storyteller and her inclusiveness of her varied audience. While every story is a little different, some overlap with the same apartment dwellers, lending continuity to the collection so it acts like a novel more than an anthology. Kallmaker writes each to fit the individual situation. There is not one size fits all for her. Her characters, their setting, and the erotica all match the story told. This author knows the language of love and sex and is not stuck on one style when sharing with her readers.

Kallmaker's strength as an enduring well-liked author has been her understanding that we, the reader, want and need fantasy. She delivers on this every time whether in a short story, anthology, or novel. Within this fantasy, she has learned to reach out to the reader with a bit of realism mixed in that does not overwhelm us. Her story "Tick, Tock" does that well in 18th & Castro. It is a pause in the middle of the book that is sobering and heartfelt, but it fits perfectly with the overall theme and advances the book naturally.

This clever and exceptional collection is a must for anyone who enjoys a little diversity in their erotica. You will look at Halloween with new appreciation after reading 18th & Castro.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: 18th & Castro
Author: Karin Kallmaker
ISBN: 159493066X
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $13.95    Pages: 208 pages
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Romance





18th & Castro by Karin Kallmaker is her latest release under the Bella After Dark logo, which is the imprint for Bella Books' erotica line. The book is a collection of short stories, all written by Kallmaker, who takes the unusual approach of building the stories around a central theme.

It's Halloween night in San Francisco and the Castro area is rocking with celebrations. Outrageous costumes and noisy parties are the themes of the night as Suze and Amy sneak to the top of a building to observe the festivities. These two are used periodically to provide a weak story line that loosely ties the stories together as they peer into the lives of other people. The stories are set up to take place in each of the different apartments in the building at 18th & Castro Streets. Something in the story from one apartment connects to the story in another apartment. The stories vary in their intensity and quality and not all of them are classically erotic. There are stories of lost love rediscovered, old friends who realize a new relationship, and lust in place of love. In keeping with the Halloween theme, one story deals with the possibility of vampires. The most poignant story is about a woman who kissed her partner good-bye thinking she would see her in the evening, only to have the partner die during the day. What would you say if you had just a few minutes more before she goes out the door?

18th & Castro is composed of vignettes. Kallmaker doesn't have to be concerned with character development because the reader is looking into one brief interlude in the lives of each of the characters and motivation isn't important. This is a convenient way to tell a story because you can focus just on the facts of the moment. The danger is that sometimes stories may not be quite clear because you don't have the evolution of a tale around it. The vampire story illustrates this danger. On the whole though, this is a pleasant collection. It's perfect for reading at night before you go to bed or when you have a short period before you need to do something, although some of the stories are steamy and you might want to be careful where you read them. You can read a story, put it down and come back later not having to worry about previous plot points. If you're looking for erotica, some of the stories are heavy in it, but not all of them and this provides a good variety. Because all of the stories are written by the same person and around a theme, there is a flow to the book even though each story stands alone. There is also continuity through the book that is often missing when multiple authors are involved. Short story collections are not usually as appealing to this reviewer because it is more difficult to get involved in a story, but this one doesn't fit the usual mold and therefore was better to read. 18th & Castro is recommended for those who like a good blush and some heat to a story.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: As I Lay Frying: A Rehoboth Beach Memoir
Author: Fay Jacobs
ISBN: 0-9646648-6-0
Publisher: A&M Books
Available by email:
Pages: 272
Price: $15.00
Genre: Humor

Are you in need of a good belly laugh? Look no farther. As I Lay Frying by Fay Jacobs serves up constant laughs, from chuckles to chortles to rib-ticklers to out-and-out brays. Jacobs' ability to infuse even the simplest occasion with humor will have you grabbing your sides and crying for more.

Jacobs writes a humor column for a local magazine in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and in this book, she has collected her articles from a seven-year span. Roughly fifteen percent of the articles are touching or provocative or revelatory of the gay existence in the outside world. In the other eighty-five percent, Jacobs takes large and small events from the worldwide scene to national news to her own adventures in and around Rehoboth Beach and brings to each a serving of her droll humor. With consummate bravery, she plinks our leaders, TV fare, her friends, her spouse Bonnie, and anyone or anything that gets into her crosshairs. And, with all due respect to Erma Bombeck, I have to say Jacobs shoots even—omigod, I can't say straighter, or she'll shoot me, too. But she aims her potshots with puckish charm, comedic grace, and a mischievous wink. Let's face it; she's enormously funny, and she's ours. She sings of her lesbianism throughout the book and expounds on the beauty and freedom of living in a gay-friendly community. But she's never heavy-handed about it.

Like all true comedians, Jacobs turns everyday happenings into hilarious adventures. For instance, she writes about an operation on her middle finger that the doctor wrapped in a "humongous swaddle of gauze…my spouse took one look and burst out laughing…I had a giant dildo attached to my hand (don't go there). So we drove home, being careful not to raise my hand above window level, lest I incite road rage from passing motorists" pg. 72.

Many of us can relate to her various topics. She says of exercise: "A glutton for food and punishment, I eventually bought a life-time gym membership, meaning I could drop out this year, next year, and every one after that, in perpetuity" pg. 149.

She tweaks her summer guests and, obliquely, her dogs: "I want everyone to know that our establishment does not put little chocolates on the pillows. If guests see little brown things there, they probably ought to worry" pg. 234.

As I Lay Frying is one of the most entertaining books I've ever read—I'm laughing in remembrance as I write this. Do your funny bone a favor and buy it. Give one to a friend; she—or he—will thank you for it. Lesbians will closely identify with this book, but Jacobs' widespread and sometimes irreverent humor has universal appeal.

Jacobs is working on a new book, Fried and True, a compilation of more Rehoboth Beach tales that's expected to hit the presses in January. I'll be watching for it avidly.
Reviewed by Nann Dunne

Title: Dance in the Key of Love
Author: Marianne K. Martin
ISBN: 1932859179
Publisher: Bywater Books
Available From:
Pages: 202
Price: $13.95
Genre: Lesbian Mystery/Romance

Dance in the Key of Love is the sequel to an earlier novel by Marianne K. Martin called Dawn of the Dance. You don't have to have read the first novel to enjoy this one, but, if it is available, it might be helpful to review it, especially in understanding what is going on in the beginning of the new book.

Paige Flemming is a woman on the run, from the law and from her past. She has been running for sixteen years to stay out of prison for a crime that she didn't commit, but for which she is willing to take the blame. Sometimes though she needs to stop in a safe place and rest and that means visiting with her friends Moni and Katherine. While she is with them, she feels she'll be safe from the hunters, but she's underestimated the determination of Detective Jack Beamon. He doesn't like unsolved cases and this one has a personal aspect to it. He'll do anything to find her, including establishing a relationship with her mother, Geri, not expecting that it will have surprising consequences for himself.

Marissa Langford was a beautiful and talented professional dancer with a flourishing career until a drunk driver left her broken in many ways. Though she has recovered more than doctors had hoped for, it means nothing because she cannot dance. She is struggling to rebuild her life and determined to prove that she can still choreograph the musical at the local college. She will need help though and the last person she wants that help from is Paige. They have a history that stands between them. Eventually, Marissa faces the fact that she cannot do the job without Paige and that she will have to put aside her feelings. Working together, they will find a relationship that has the potential to solve the emotional and physical injuries both of them have suffered. Even as they help either other though, Jack Beamon is getting closer to his goal of making Paige pay for what he thinks she did.

Marianne K. Martin is an experienced and accomplished writer. That shows through clearly in Dance in the Key of Love in the way she weaves what are actually three stories together - Paige and Marissa, Jack and Geri, and Jack's relationship with his daughter who is in an abusive relationship. The stories intertwine in such a way as to complement and shed light on each other. For example, Jack comes to learn through his daughter's relationship what Geri's early life was like and what might have motivated Paige to do the crime she is accused of committing.

Martin's words flow smoothly across the page creating very clear images of her characters and their feelings. She also doesn't talk down to her readers and isn't concerned about using complex sentences and images to tell her story. The one point that might have been stronger in this book was having more explanation or flashback sequences about what happened in the original book. That would have been extremely helpful to the reader who hasn't read it or read it when it originally came out years ago. Not knowing that story makes it a little difficult to get a grasp about what is happening in the first chapter of the book, but the story in Dance in the Key of Love establishes itself quickly after that, so that reading the first book isn't absolutely necessary. Overall, Martin has written a strong and moving story. Well worth reading.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Grave Silence
Author: Rose Beecham
ISBN: 1933110252
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc.,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $15.95
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Romance/Mystery

After spending the last few years writing sexy romances as Jennifer Fulton, Fulton aka Rose Beecham has triumphantly returned to penning mysteries. With the award-winning Grave Silence, she mixes facts surrounding the activities of the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS) with a riveting murder mystery and crafts a gripping story.

When we first meet Sheriff's Detective Jude Devine, a former FBI agent who has been transferred to a small Colorado town in the Four Corners area, she is unraveling the grisly murder of a young woman left decomposing in a desert wash. The clues to solving this crime take Devine and the reader on an unbelievable journey beyond anything we could have imagined. FLDS is a splinter group, not recognized by the Mormon Church, that among other things illegally practices polygamy. Beecham deftly weaves a second plot about life on an FLDS ranch into this story. We learn how autocracy and abuse rule the mostly underage girls married to the "master" of the cult, and how silence is used as a survival tool to avoid being punished for disobeying. As the book evolves, these two plots collide forcefully, taking the reader on a compelling adventure with Devine emerging as the silent hero.

After reading this book over eight months ago, this reviewer was haunted by the "facts" of Grave Silence. I wanted to know where the fiction ended, and the truth began. After hearing a talk by Beecham on how she compiled her research and gathered firsthand information about FLDS, I received my answers and was shocked. This is not a book where an author spews her views on religion disguised as a novel. FLDS is a cult that does not adhere to any tenets of any religion. Beecham has done a tremendous amount of in-depth research to incorporate these facts into a fictional murder mystery, and the results are an amazing and fascinating book. The writing is tight and fluid. The path to the murder clues grows as the plot moves forward. Beecham strings her readers along cleverly, not releasing us until the final explosive ending.

After hearing Beecham speak about Grave Silence, I reread the book. If she had written a non-fiction account of this cult, I would not have believed the magnitude and far-reaching effects FLDS has on its victims, the young girls who are forced into this way of life by adult family members. This fictional story, termed a "message mystery" by the author, cannot be ignored. It captures the reader and obliges us to look beyond our world. Beecham's telling helps us swallow the hard reality and reflect upon the importance of unmasking these groups. After reading Grave Silence, I suggest you take another glance. The implications of this novel are significant and cannot be overlooked.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: Murder at Random
Author: Claire McNab
ISBN: 1-59493-047-3
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $13.95
Pages: 182
Genre: Fiction/Lesbian

The latest installment of the Denise Cleever series is a most enjoyable read. Again, Denise must go undercover to find the people behind a series of seemingly senseless acts of violence--the bigger the bang, the bigger the bucks the culprit can collect. To complicate matters, an old flame appears with a startling connection to this rampage of terrorist attacks, and Denise delves farther into her feelings for her handler, the mysterious Cynthia, who is not above dropping a bomb or two of her own. This most challenging adventure serves as a catalyst for Denise's future path both personally and professionally.

As anyone knows who has read the previous books in the series, McNab writes sparingly, at times even sparsely. The reader sometimes wishes that the author would expand more, go into greater depth with her characterization. Just when one thinks something of substance will follow, the author employs the fade to black scenario. However, if you are a true fan of McNab, you realize that this is her style, and you content yourself with the story at hand. The action is fast-paced and plausible. Very often some authors are lax in their research, especially when it comes to security and governmental matters. However, McNab proves she has a grasp of the Australian machinations and the exchange of information among countries.

As the series has progressed, Denise Cleever has matured, both in action and attitude. Always irreverent, witty, and clever, she has assumed a more credible persona, not hesitating to speak of her inadequacies. This is indeed refreshing and keeps the character from becoming a one-dimensional superhero. The novel is somewhat short, but again, readers have come to expect this in the series. Perhaps the most gratifying segment of the novel is that the reader really begins to empathize, if not fantasize, about Cynthia. In the past, she has been portrayed rather inscrutably, which was her initial appeal. Now one begins to understand who she is and what drives her emotional vacillation.

Murder at Random is an enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half. With characters that are likable and comfortable, action that races along, elements of discovery and surprise, the reader will not be disappointed. No hidden meanings here, just good old-fashioned storytelling with a nod to today's tumultuous times. This reader eagerly awaits the next in the Cleever series.
Reviewed by Arlene Germain

Title: Of Drag Kings and the Wheel of Fate, 2nd Edition
Author: Susan Smith
ISBN: 1933110511
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc.,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,;; or
Price: $15.95   Pages: 288 pages
Genre: Lesbian Fiction/Romance

Fiction has a way of opening up new worlds to us, exposing us to characters from all walks of life, and even changing our attitudes. Susan Smith's Of Drag Kings and the Wheel of Fate is one of those rare books that does all of the above and does it superbly. Of Drag Kings and the Wheel of Fate is a novel about family, not the family we are born into, but the family we choose as adults. It is a book about the courage to be who you are, about the choices we make, and the honesty to follow through on those choices. Smith has invented a story that is full of love, with intense characters who along the way discover parts of themselves for the first time.

Dr. Rosalind Olchawski, a professor at a university in Buffalo, New York, is newly divorced when she is taken to a drag club by her best friend Ellie. Taryn is a young, bold, sexy butch performing at the club, and when Ros and Taryn have a chance encounter after the show, the pull is overwhelming to both. Their tension is immediate, and we are captivated by the possibilities. Rhea and Joe, who are lovers, are Taryn's extended family. Rhea, fiercely strong and stubborn, is slow to accept Ros into their circle. She has her reasons, but are they valid or is she just being selfish? Joe, the family's protector, is the most accepting of Ros. He understands the family dynamics best because of his unique perspective as a transman. He acts as the cohesive bond that helps the characters' interactions evolve, moving from the past through the present to the future.

Smith's writing style has a poetic rhythm that is enjoyable to read. She uses parallels throughout the book to advance the novel and help the reader identify with the dilemmas her characters are facing. At one point she compares Ros' relationship with Taryn to Ros' brother's marriage to a non Christian Indian woman. Both prefer partners with characteristics different from themselves. And both have had to overcome similar obstacles as well as prejudices with the choices they have made.

Of Drag Kings and the Wheel of Fate is a novel that makes a difference. It is filled with understanding and respect for the varied forms that love takes. It discards standard definitions of family, love and gender. Smith's story reminds us that people cannot be put into neat little boxes. Life is fluid and changing, and as Smith so succinctly conveys to us, we must be too.
Reviewed by Kathi Isserman

Title: On a Wing and a Prayer
Author: Karen D. Badger
ISBN: 0977031810
Publisher: Blue Feather Books
Available at: StarCrossed Productions,; and
Blue Feather Books,
Pages: 342   Cost: $16.50
Genre: Adventure/Romance

On a Wing and a Prayer is about two women who are separated by a continent yet still find that they are drawn to each other. Pilot Cassidy Conway flies commercial runs between California and Mexico several days a week. Her life revolves totally around her work, which is her defense against the tragic loss of her lover three years before. Cass is lonely, but afraid to trust her heart in another relationship.

Roxanne Ward is a successful science fiction writer who is trapped in an abusive relationship with a man her parents think is wonderful. Because her father is dying, she is determined, as her bones are broken and her body is scarred, to stick it out in the relationship until her father dies. She thinks this will make her parents happy.

The women are brought together when Cass picks up a book to read on a layover and finds herself captivated by the picture of the author on the back cover. On a whim, Cass emails Rox to tell her how much she enjoyed her book and they become email buddies. Due to a mixup, Roxanne believes for a long time that Cass is a man and learns the truth during a frightening confrontation when Cass saves her life. Her discovery that Cass is a woman threatens to end the developing romance; then dramatic situations force her to confront her feelings.

Karen Badger is better known to readers of Xena fanfic as kdbard and references to a Xena based story are clear in On a Wing and a Prayer. The characters feel they are soul mates and that fate is pulling them together despite everything that happens. Dream sequences indicate that the women have known each other before. Some of the experiences they have seem to come from a fantasy adventure show, but it's a pleasant story and good for an afternoon or evening of escapism.

There is one point of interest about the construction of the book. This is one of the first books to be issued under the Blue Feather Books banner. Blue Feather bought out the stock of another company that published a great deal of lesbian fiction, but developed a reputation for poorly edited books with a great number of misspelled words, poorly set pages and bindings that didn't hold up. Blue Feather appears to have overcome those problems. This book is well edited and constructed as a quality book. The previous company had a number of excellent writers who suffered from the quality of the product the company put out. These writers, plus the investment that the new management at Blue Feather Books appears to be willing to put into the books, should be a formula for success. On a Wing and a Prayer is not the strongest story in the Blue Feather catalog, but it is a good omen of things to come.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Talon
Author: J. P. Mercer
ISBN: 1933720034
Publisher: PD Publishing, Inc.,
Available From: PD Publishing, and online bookstores
Pages: 180 pagesPrice: $15.99
Genre: Adventure/Suspense/Romance

This is the book I've been waiting to write a review for. In the interest of honesty, I should tell you that J. P. Mercer let me see a prepublication copy of Talon and I've been dying for it to come out ever since. I've written in previous reviews about books that I thought could be the cross over stories to go into the mainstream and bring lesbian fiction to the general population. Talon certainly belongs in that group. The story fits into so many categories, it's hard to know where to start in describing it.

Do you like mystery, suspense or adventure? Do you like romance? Do you like a story that sounds like it stepped off of the television screen or out of the newspapers because it's so topical? Do you like a book that keeps you so engrossed you have to keep turning pages to find out what happens next? If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, then Talon is the book for you.

Liberty Starr is a secret agent who was recruited by the President to join an elite group called the Talons. Their mission was to combat terrorism in any way they could, including assassination; however, a powerful man, who valued wealth and influence over patriotism and honor, corrupted the Talons. Liberty discovers this betrayal and is determined to stop this man's grab for power and redeem the mission of the Talons, but she is being hunted by someone who can be as deadly as she is.

Kayla Sinclair is a former Olympic skiing champion whose career and life were ruined by an avalanche. She had tried to escape from her pain by drowning in alcohol, but is struggling to put her life back together when Liberty takes refuge in her pub. These women are emotionally damaged and each believes she has lost the chance for any happiness in her life. The danger that surrounds Liberty engulfs them both and jeopardizes any future either of them might have. The threat to them and the country is very real and there are no guarantees that, if Liberty is able to survive the completion of her last mission, either will be able to heal her battered emotions and be willing to take a chance on love.

J. P. Mercer has published two previous books, Incommunicado and Threads of Destiny, and while they were excellent, they were in no way preparation for Talon. Mercer has combined some of the best suspense techniques of Robert Ludlum with a story of women who have suffered significant wounds in their lives. Many of the incidents in the book have actually occurred, except that the book was written before they did, which shows an understanding of the world of intrigue that is almost eerie. Reading this book is similar to watching blockbuster movies like the Mission Impossible or Bourne series. Talon is also a passionate story about two women with love scenes that scorch the pages. This is a great book. You're going to want to have read it. Now, if we could just get someone in Hollywood to pay attention to it.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: The Flip Side of Desire
Author: Lynn Ames
ISBN: 193311360X
Publisher: Intaglio Publications,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Intaglio Publications,
Pages: 247   Price: $15.95
Genre: Romance

If you are familiar with the writing of Lynn Ames, it's probably from the trilogy of books she wrote about her characters Kate and Jay. The Flip Side of Desire is a departure from that series and is a much better written book with a compelling story.

C.J. Winslow is an aging tennis champion. In the world of tennis, that means she's thirty-four years old. C.J. was once the number one ranked female player in the world and has been the sport's favorite poster child for many years, but younger players with faster games have begun to pass her by. She believes she can be on top again, but it means changing her game and the people who surround her. This won't be easy, but she knows she can do it because she is the consummate professional, forsaking everything else in her life to achieve what she wants. C.J. realizes she is lonely, but a happier personal life can wait for after she retires from the game and she's not ready for that yet.

Trystan Lightfoot is a professional also. She has built her reputation as a physical therapist by being a nomad and moving around between professional sports teams. Now the Women's Tennis Federation has hired her to be the full time therapist for the members of the tour and she has achieved the pinnacle of her career, if not personal happiness. Trystan has built another reputation along the way as a woman who enjoys one night stands and who forms no permanent attachments to anyone. Many years before her heart was broken so badly that she has no interest in opening herself up to anyone again. She doesn't know that she's about to meet someone who will challenge all of her beliefs about what she wants out of life.

C.J. and Trystan are drawn to each other by a mutual love, a love of sport. C.J. has a goal and Trystan wants to help her achieve it. As they work together, they experience confusing feelings. Confusing for C.J. because she's never had any type of relationship, plus she knows that she's been promoted through the years as the proof that not all women in sports are lesbians. Confusing for Trystan because she finds C.J. becoming more important in her life when she has vowed that she would never let anyone do that again. A relationship threatens both of their careers, but threatens more their self-images of who they are. Whether or not they can bring together all of these aspects in a satisfying manner becomes the crux of the story.

The Flip Side of Desire is a romance and it's not a new or surprising story; however, that doesn't matter. There is an atmosphere in this book that draws the reader in and makes you want to keep turning the pages. Ames uses language so masterfully that you develop a true feeling of understanding for both of these characters. Unlike many romances that can just be read through, this is one of those rare books where you begin to feel the emotions of the characters and you get immersed in the story. The attraction happens perhaps too quickly, a common occurrence in many books, and Trystan's character would be easier to relate to if there was more about the relationship that tormented her so badly, but these are minor points in the story. This is a very satisfying book to read on a number of levels, including that it presents an interesting view of women's professional sports and creates the impression that this could be a true to life story. The Kate and Jay trilogy was OK, but this is the book where Ames really shines.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: The Latecomer
Author: Sarah Aldridge
ISBN: 0-930044-00-2
Publisher: Naiad Press
Distributed by A&M Books (Email:
Price: $12.00
Pages: 107
Genre: Fiction/Lesbian

Sarah Aldridge is, indeed, a great lady of lesbian literature. Aldridge was recently awarded the Golden Crown Literary Society 2006 Trailblazer Award, posthumously, for her work as a pioneering feminist writer and publisher. In recognition of her wonderful body of work, this reviewer will present reviews of all of her novels over the coming months. Hopefully, these reviews will remind those who have read Sarah Aldridge's novels in the past of what wonderful stories they are, and they will be prompted to read them again. For those unfamiliar with Aldridge's novels, my hope is that the reviews will introduce them to this great lady of lesbian literature so that new readers may come to appreciate her contribution to the genre.

The Latecomer is the first of 14 Sarah Aldridge novels. When I discovered lesbian literature in the mid-eighties, this was one of the first books that I read, along with Curious Wine by Katherine V Forrest. The Latecomer, originally published in 1974, was already in print for over ten years when I first read it. It was such a thrill to find novels that told stories that I could relate to, that even with its economy of pages (a mere 107 of them), I soaked up this story with great interest and excitement. While re-reading it recently, I discovered that, although I remembered the first part of the story very well, I had no recollection of the second part of the story, so it was almost like reading a whole new novel.

When Philippa, a straight-laced college professor who likes things just so, has a roommate thrust upon her for a transatlantic crossing, she is disappointed and annoyed. However, the inconvenience soon disappears, for something about Kay intrigues Philippa, and she finds that she doesn't mind the gregarious, energetic younger woman's presence at all. Philippa soon realizes that Kay is troubled and after a few intimate conversations, Philippa starts to realize why. Kay reveals that she is trying to get over a relationship with a married man. The two have had a torrid affair while Kay was in Paris. Philippa senses that there is more going on in Kay's turmoil, and at one point, Kay tells Philippa that her many affairs with men have left her feeling very unfulfilled.

At each new opportunity, Philippa finds herself drawn to the young film editor, but she doesn't admit her real feelings, since they will soon part company when the ship docks in New York, each woman going her separate way.

After returning to her tranquil, well-ordered life for a brief time, Philippa is summoned by her domineering cousin, Elaine, who asks Philippa to confront her husband's former lover to retrieve some letters he had sent her. Elaine doesn't want to leave them in the woman's possession to be used to ruin his career as a government official. Because of this situation, Philippa and Kay are thrown together once again and Pippa, as Kay refers to her, stands by her friend as accusations fly and truth is denied by everyone involved. When Philippa finally admits that she has feelings for Kay that go beyond friendship, she finds herself embroiled in her own personal chaos. The ending is tender, hopeful, and leaves us filled with wonder for the unlikely pair.

This brief story written, as the back matter states, with the romantic tone of yesterday, is packed with emotion that is only hinted at, yet we feel it strongly as it runs throughout the tale as if on an exposed electrical wire. This first of Aldridge's fourteen novels sets the theme that continues through her novels of strong women and same-sex relationships—and it is a classic. Any devotee of lesbian literature should not miss the Sarah Aldridge experience.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: The Tides of Passion
Author: Diana Tremain Braund
ISBN: 1-59493-048-1
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $12.95   Pages: 390
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Lesbian

You know the main characters of The Tides of Passion are in trouble when the first words out of one person's mouth are, "You really lack class, you know" [page 2]. Said during a lovely dinner in a romantic setting, the statement makes the words sting all the more.

Kelly Burns, a successful director of nursing at the hospital on Bleu Island, is about to depart for a conference. The dinner starts out on a beautiful note, but when Kelly does something that her partner, Amy, does not approve of, Kelly is blindsided by Amy's stinging remark. As the story unfolds, we learn this is a pattern for Amy Day. She makes off-the-cuff, hurtful remarks when things don't go her way-but only to Kelly-her friends, she treats respectfully. Kelly, for her part, endures the remarks and does what so often happens in abusive relationships, she explains away Amy's behavior and takes the blame upon herself. The difficulties in their personal lives are compounded by the fact that Bleu Island, a little community off the coast of Maine where Amy and Kelly live, may be in trouble.

A team of developers has arrived to try to convince the islanders that a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal would improve their depressed economy and bring jobs and prosperity to the island. Learning this, Amy begins a campaign to spearhead the opposition with an almost manic fervor. She likes things the way they are on Bleu Island and in her personal life, and she doesn't want anything to change. To add to her frustration, most of the townspeople remain on the fence about the LNG project, torn between the knowledge that, although the terminal will change the face of their little community forever, it will also bring much-needed jobs and help to the economy of the island. With Amy so involved in the turmoil, Kelly's plea that they seek counseling falls on deaf ears.

While Amy's time is taken up with the increasing activity needed to battle the LNG project, Kelly continues to walk on eggshells at home, trying to keep the verbal abuse from Amy to a minimum. Amy cannot understand why Kelly will not throw herself wholeheartedly behind the LNG cause and she is oblivious to how her cutting remarks and unreasonable demands affect Kelly. In the midst of all this, it is difficult for Kelly to find her voice against Amy's mistreatment.

When Kelly's long-time friend, Laurie, decides to move to Bleu Island, red flags surface and the reader begins to wonder if Kelly will find comfort in Laurie's arms; but that isn't meant to be, because Laurie is immediately taken with Susan Iogen, the PR woman who is part of the LNG team.

Through a series of quirky events, Susan and Kelly are thrown together several times over a brief period, beginning with when Elizabeth Robinson, the determined lobster woman of a previous Braund novel, brings Susan to a party hosted by Amy and Kelly.

The story is a difficult one to read because of the verbal abuse that takes place between the two main characters. However, as Kelly begins to quietly, resolutely stand up for herself, we find hope that, although this particular relationship seems doomed, Kelly might be able to find some happiness for herself someday. In trying to find her way, however, Kelly makes some poor choices and adds to the difficulty between her and her partner.

The Tides of Passion is a bittersweet story filled with disappointments as well as triumphs. In the end, we are left with hope, but only after some very heart-wrenching events as we struggle through the difficulties and helplessness that the characters often feel.

Abuse in any form is a difficult topic to read about and this book portrays the topic superbly. Read it to find out if Bleu Island succumbs to the power of the big developers. Read it to understand how abuse can truly devastate a person and to find out if Kelly ever finds her voice. Read this fine story to be informed as well as entertained.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: The Weekend Visitor
Author: Jessica Thomas
ISBN: 1-59493-054-6
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $13.95   Pages: 220
Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Lesbian

One of the most gifted writers on the scene is the Golden Crown Literary Award winning Jessica Thomas, creator of the Alex Peres mystery series set in Provincetown, MA. Her debut novel, Caught in the Net, introduced the reader to Alex Peres, a refreshingly original character that far surpasses the stereotypical PI one often encounters in today's mystery genre. Turning the Tables, the second in the series, further developed the characterization of this appealing woman. Now, with The Weekend Visitor, the emotional growth of Alex Peres resonates clearly and most plausibly. The stylistic writing style continues to capture the reader, providing not only an enjoyable reading experience but also an exceptional lesson in deliberative and logical plot development.

Alex has just returned from Boston after having testified in a fraud case. The hot gossip in town revolves around Mary Sloan, the local curmudgeon, and not one of Alex's favorite people. "Face it, Mary was like a label in your shirt; either you don't know it's there, or it's driving you crazy" (p. 11). Mary has a new, much younger woman, Maureen Delaney, staying with her; thus the source of town musings. Mary wants to hire Alex--to find the man who raped Maureen. Alex accepts the case and finds out quickly that things are not exactly what she had expected. A powerfully influential family, Maureen's evasiveness, and unexpected local reactions to the crime all pose problems for Alex. While doing the necessary detecting for Mary, Alex also takes on a second case involving twin sisters, an inheritance, a body in a Louisiana lake, and more surprises than Alex could imagine.

One characteristic of Thomas' writing is her mastery of the literary elements. Alex's intelligence, wit, and charm shine through which makes for an even more endearing and engaging personality. The descriptive phrases capture the essence of the moment. While looking at one of her cherished photographs now displayed in the bank, Alex says, "Another favorite was a line of nine starlings…grumpily sitting out a heavy rain along a phone wire, and looking like Supreme Court Justices about to hand down an unpopular verdict" (p.11). Thomas' incorporation of vivid imagery carries throughout the book. The many examples of it display the author's gift for turning a phrase. Her description of arriving and departing P-town tourists "Like weeds, they started popping up in May, grew thick in June, and completely overran us in July and August. Slowly, slowly they began to thin again in September and pretty well disappeared in November…." (p.18) is an extraordinary sensory simile. Anyone who has been there also recognizes the unequivocal truth of that portrayal.

Alex's sense of humor, wry wit, and at times, sanguine attitude differentiate her within the mystery genre and place her above the ordinary formulaic detective character. She is a woman one would like to spend time with, have over for dinner, and sit on the beach and gossip about P-town. Her lover Cindy, not quite live-in yet, is the perfect balance for Alex. Cindy's understanding, humor, independence, and deep love for Alex all contribute to a viable and sustainable loving relationship.

Another aspect of Thomas' characterization is her depiction of the secondary characters. The Wharf Rat Bar denizens provide local color and some old-fashioned Yankee common sense. Harmon, the elderly fisherman who scopes out the beach while waiting for clandestine drug smugglers, is hilarious. He means well but often it just doesn't happen for him. Alex's pals, Peter and the Wolf, are comic relief, and her brother Sonny, the Provincetown police chief, has a warm and accepting attitude toward his sister that is quite endearing.

The Weekend Visitor is a tightly written, adeptly developed mystery that is certain to please the most discriminating reader of this genre. Expertly drawn characters, a fluid narrative, an inviting setting, and a mystery within a mystery make this latest installment a most satisfying and absorbing reading experience.
Reviewed by Arlene Germain

Title: Too Close to Touch
Author: Georgia Beers
ISBN: 1-933110-47-3
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc.,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,;; or
Price:$15.95   Pages: 240
Genre: Romance

In her third novel, Georgia Beers delivers an immensely satisfying story in "a modern day romance," Too Close to Touch. Warm-hearted Kylie O'Brien seems an unlikely match for tough gal Gretchen Kaiser, but the chemistry between them is undeniable, and the reader becomes readily invested in their future.

Gretchen starts a new job as a Regional Sales Manager at a company that needs her expertise. She relocates from Poughkeepsie to far upstate, Rochester, New York. She does so willingly in hopes of putting some distance between her and her family, among other reasons. On her first Saturday night out, she finds the Black Widow bar, and surprises herself by having a great time with the local lesbians. An overachiever who prides herself on improving the performance of a failing sales force, Gretchen has the reputation of Cruella de Ville, which is fine with her since she's more interested in the bottom line than winning a popularity contest.

There are key ingredients lacking in Gretchen's personal life, but she compensates for it in her professional life, as if achieving one's goals is all that matters. What the woman lacks in height, she more than makes up for in personality. Gretchen competes with the 'big boys,' and wins in a man's corporate world by exuding strong leadership and managerial skills. She also happens to be drop-dead gorgeous and has a well-hidden mushy side beneath her cool exterior. Gretchen has no trouble finding dates, and she prefers casual sex because she's not looking to settle down. Until she meets Kylie. . .

In the love department, Kylie is the complete opposite of Gretchen. She can't get into one-night stands, but rather searches for her one true love. Intelligent, competent, and equipped with excellent social skills, Kylie is an asset to Gretchen as her executive administrative assistant. Kylie knows just what to do and what to say. She is well-liked by all who know her and loved by many. Her attraction to Gretchen may be physical at first, but Kylie finds there's more to her feelings than meets the eye. However, their professional affiliation puts a damper on any chance of a relationship between the two. Kylie turns heads and has on occasion broken hearts with her endearing, bubbly, and charismatic personality.

Kylie's best friend Mick is hot! She's big, in a muscular way. She's butch, and she's jealous of Gretchen for capturing Kylie's heart. Mick loves Kylie, pays her the most adoring compliments, can fix anything, and exudes sex appeal. She's a femme's dream (or worst nightmare) come true. Beers creates an appealing character readers can empathize with on many levels. And Mick adds to the existing conflict between Gretchen and Kylie, resulting in an intriguing triangle with Kylie in the middle.

Beers knows how to generate sexual tension so taut it could be cut with a knife. For example, Kylie says to Gretchen, "Either kiss me right now or stop whatever it is you're doing with your thumb, because it's driving me crazy" (p. 139). Up to that point, the reader is praying Kylie would say that.

What makes Too Close to Touch memorable for me is how effective Georgia Beers is in demonstrating the power play between a boss and her subordinates, and especially, how under the right circumstances, and with the right woman, a tough, reserved, private control freak can let go and let a caring and loving woman take charge. Gretchen goes through an enormous growth curve when she figures out what's important in life and she learns that lesson in the last place she expects to, from her father.

Beers weaves a tale of yearning, love, lust, and conflict resolution. She has constructed a believable plot, with strong characters in a charming setting in this well-written and carefully edited book. It's obvious that Beers cares deeply about her characters from the way she portrays their strengths and weaknesses. Readers can't help falling in love with them, too. If you enjoy a romance that leaves you happy and completely sated, don't miss Too Close to Touch. I look forward to Georgia Beers' next novel, Fresh Tracks, due in November 2006.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

Title: Under the Fig Tree
Author: Emily Reed
ISBN: 0-9755-7397-7
Publisher: Blue Feather Books, Limited,
Available From: Blue Feather Books,
Price: $13.99   Pages: 142
Genre: Poetry

Under the Fig Tree,
by Emily Reed, is an inspiring collection of poetry commemorating one woman's journey through life, and the words pour out of her heart with perfect rhyme and reason. This fine collection of poems ignites the senses and tells a story, thus making it a memorable reading experience.

In modern society, poetry is often treated like a second-class citizen to fiction, possibly even third class, if you add non-fiction to the mix. It is common for small lesbian presses to discourage poets since the market makes it difficult to cover their expenses. There are calls for submissions, for example, in erotica anthologies, which will consider poetry, but not encourage it. Unfortunately, the demand for poetry has dwindled, and one cannot fault publishers for giving readers what they want and for not embarking on a risky venture. However, Reed's collection in Under the Fig Tree has something for everyone. Reed writes about love, lust, hatred, and fear, in a way that's easy to assimilate and difficult to dismiss.

I admit guilt when it comes to seeking poetry for my personal library, but it's time to rekindle the desire for this oft forgotten art form, which isn't as easy to write as it looks. Under the Fig Tree is a great place to start because it gives even the most resistant poet in all of us a dose of magic in a way we can relate to, because the power and beauty touches our heart.

Reed's style is catchy; it reads like the lyrics to a favorite song. Her poetry gets right to the point. She doesn't beat around the bush, unless you want her to, as in the erotic poem, "The Burning Bush."

The Burning Bush (poetry reproduced with expressed permission by the author)

I took my shoes from off my feet,
I took the rest off too
I stood before the burning bush
Prepared to worship you.
I knelt down on my knees in awe
I bent my head down low
I looked upon the burning bush
And felt the fire grow.
I put my hand inside the fire
I felt the scorching heat
I felt the flames engulfing me
With no thought of retreat.
I ventured then to taste the fire
I licked the tongues of flame
I worshipped at the burning bush
Not stopping 'til you came.
I saw the bush was not consumed
Although it burned with fire
It must indeed be holy ground
The font for my desire.

Some critics would say that any poem which is easy to understand in its entirety, and that doesn't make learned scholars spend countless decades pondering the true meaning as intended by the author has less literary merit. Clearly, they have not read poetry merely for the joy of melodious words, the raw emotions with which she speaks, such as Emily Reed writes in Under the Fig Tree. Nor have they come away with Reed's pleasingly metrical verse, which inspires the reader to look at poetry in a different light. Poems so powerful in their message, as in "Regrets."


Our mortality nips at our heels
But fools that we are, we ignore it
We see it strike out at our friends
And then we decry and abhor it.
We squander our time on this earth
We waste precious moments we're given
But thinking of her at death's door
I wonder. By what are we driven?
By plans to accumulate cash
By living for others' opinion
By hoping to live out our dreams
Before we approach Death's dominion.
But the future is not guaranteed
And Death lies around the next corner
I don't want to die with regrets
I cry for myself as I mourn her.

The careful way Reed assembled the poems speaks clearly of an underlying mission to tell a story, to depict the journey. From chapter one, Dates (as in the dried fruit, but really, the synonym, courtship rituals) are delicacies that build to sustenance. Dates to pomegranates to vines, figs, olives, and finally to wheat and barley surely provide substance.

For poems that speak of truth, offer hope, try to make sense of the injustices of the world, and make you feel, don't pass the poetry by where it sits upon a shelf. Do something totally worthwhile for yourself. Read Under the Fig Tree by Emily Reed, you'll be glad that you did, you'll be glad you listened to me. But don't take my word for it. Find out for yourself. Next time you're in a book-buying mood, take Under the Fig Tree off the shelf.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg

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
lesfic_unbound and

You can reach Lynne at

Cheri Rosenberg
Cheri Rosenberg is a reviewer for Independent Gay Writer, Just About Write, Midwest Book Review, The L Life, and other venues posting book reviews for the lesbian community.

Cheri's published works, written under the pen name Cheri Crystal, can be found in Lessons in Love: Erotic Interludes 3 and After Midnight: True Lesbian Erotic Confessions. She is currently writing her second novel while adding the finishing touches to her first.

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

Contact her at

Author Bios

Sarah Aldridge
Sarah Aldridge is the pseudonym of Anyda Marchant who spent the forty years of her working life in New York City and Washington, D.C. as a lawyer in both public and private practice. Upon retiring in 1972, she began a career as a writer and publisher. She originated the Naiad Press and was co-founder when it was incorporated in 1974. In 1995 she and her lifelong companion Muriel Crawford withdrew as co-owners of the Naiad Press and founded a new publishing venture, A&M Books, which thus became the publisher of the Sarah Aldridge novels. Journalist Andrea Peterson has called her books "perhaps the most substantive and enjoyable lesbian novels ever written." Anyda and Muriel lived in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, until their deaths. Anyda passed away in January and Muriel in June of this year.

Lynn Ames
Lynn Ames is the author of The Price of Fame, The Cost of Commitment and The Value of Valor. For more than half a decade, Ms. Ames was a broadcast journalist. These days she is a nationally recognized speaker and public relations professional with a particular expertise in image, crisis communications planning, and crisis management. Lynn resides in the southwestern U.S. with her golden retrievers: Alex, who bears a remarkable resemblance to a character in her books, and Parker.

Karen D. Badger
Karen D. Badger was born in Vermont, the second of five children. She 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. She looks forward to many fulfilling years of writing and watching her family grow.

Rose Beecham
Rose Beecham is a pen name used by best-selling lesbian romance writer Jennifer Fulton for her mystery fiction titles.

Jennifer, winner of several Golden Crown Literary Society Goldie awards, resides in the Midwest with her partner and a menagerie of animals, where she writes historical novels, screenplays and lesbian fiction in various genres under several pen names, including Grace Lennox and Rose Beecham.

When she is not writing or reading, she loves to explore the mountains and prairies near her home, a landscape eternally and wonderfully foreign to her.

Georgia Beers
Georgia and Bonnie, her partner of over a decade, live in upstate New York where they have a cozy little house, two dogs, and a disdain for the winter weather. They plan to retire somewhere warm…eventually. In the meantime, Georgia gets her ideas for characters and stories from virtually anywhere…television, the grocery store, the Eddie Bauer catalog. She's been writing for as long as she can remember and has only recently begun to embrace the title of 'romance novelist.' After all, who doesn't love a little romance?

Diana Tremain Braund
Diana Tremain Braund continues to live on the coast of Maine in a house that overlooks the water. She and her dog, Bob, who is now six years old, take long walks on the beach. This is where she comes up with ideas for Bella Books.

You can e-mail the author at

Fay Jacobs
Fay Jacobs, a native New Yorker, spent 30 years in the Washington, DC, area working in journalism, theatre and public relations. She has contributed feature stories and columns to such publications as The Baltimore Sun, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, Washington Blade, The Wilmington News Journal, Delaware Beach Life, and more.

Since 1955 she has been a regular columnist for Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, and won the national 1997 Bice Bersa Award for excellence. Her writing is also included in the 1998 Alyson Publications' anthology Beginnings.

She and Bonnie, her partner of 22 years, relocated to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, in 1999. They have two Miniature Schnauzers and a riding lawn mower.

Contact Fay at:

Karin Kallmaker
In any discussion of what authors dominate lesbian literature, Karin Kallmaker's name always comes up as one of the masters of the genre. Her roots in publishing go back to the Naiad Press and she continues to publish today with Bella Books. Kallmaker has produced more than twenty romance and science fiction novels, including the award-winning books Sugar, Maybe Next Time and Just Like That. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published by Naiad, Bella, Alyson, Bold Strokes, Circlet and Haworth. She credits another legend of the genre, Katherine Forrest, with being an early influence on her writing. Kallmaker and her partner of many years live with their children in the San Francisco Bay Area. She can be reached at

Marianne K. Martin
Among her varied careers, Marianne K. Martin has been a public school teacher, a photojournalist, and collegiate field hockey coach. She currently resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dance in the Key of Love is her seventh novel.

Claire McNab
Claire McNab is the author of the detective-inspector Carol Ashton and the undercover agent Denise Cleever series, for a total of more than 18 best-selling mystery novels. She has served as the president of Sisters in Crime and is a member of both the Mystery Writers of America and the Science Fiction Writers of America. Like the star of her new series, Kylie Kendall, Claire left her native Australia to live in Los Angeles, a city she still finds quite astonishing.

J.P. Mercer
J.P. Mercer is originally from Montana, but now resides in southwestern Arizona on the edge of the Sonoran Desert. She has published two books, Incommunicado (ISBN 1-933113-10-3) and Threads of Destiny (ISBN 0-9754366-7-8. Mercer has diverse interests and believes in living each day to the fullest. You can read more of her stories and contact her at her website at

Emily Reed
Emily Reed is a medical physicist who in the past several years has taken up writing poetry. A long-time Chicago resident, she is currently living overseas.

Under the Fig Tree is her first collection of poetry, encompassing a wide range of topics, from love to humor to world events.

Previous publications include articles in various medical physics journals, which aren't nearly as entertaining as the poems in the book.

She continues to write poetry and is currently collecting material for a second book.

When Em isn't writing or working (which, unfortunately, isn't very much of the time), she enjoys reading, running marathons, scuba diving and juggling.


Susan Smith
Susan Smith is a handsome, brooding warrior king novelist. Smith was once described as a nice, small town boy educated well beyond necessary, but not nearly enough to please her. Smitty is in love with books - from reading them to writing them. She's been a writer, drag king, director, and librarian. Perhaps by luck, or fate, Smitty has lived in Buffalo, New York, and spends an inordinate amount of time in Toronto, Ontario. While old-fashioned in a very modern way, Smitty still does not understand that coffee is never just coffee.

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 an 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.