Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Review- Ladylegger by Carol McKenzie

by Carol McKenzie
Prohibition era/ lesbian/ f/f-bi
24K- $4.25

Buy it Loveyoudivine, Fictionwise

As a woman Edith dresses in trouser suits and running her own illegal business. Edith is a lesbian in a rural farming area where such is frowned upon. Edith is an independent individual who goes about armed and hires men to help her run the business as both bodyguards and delivery drivers. She even faces down a Treasury agent and gets on his good side in his quest to take down bigger bootleggers. Edith falls in love with Lorene, a farm widow who is one of her best suppliers of illicit moonshine whiskey, and the core of the story revolves around her courtship of Lorene and the consequent changes in both their lives.

Ladylegger is one of those stories that had great potential, satisfied on some levels, but for the most part fell a bit short for me.

Edith is a bootlegger during the prohibition. She doesn’t follow any of the rules; she’s doing a man’s job, she’s a lesbian, and is the boss of her own business. Things are starting to heat up and tough guy “Ace,” who has no scruples is out to take over all the bootleggers’ businesses through threats and force. This doesn’t sit well with Edith and she fights back. It’s a rough business so she has her posse of men whom she travels with while going on her deliveries and pick-ups, and all are highly fortified with weapons.

Lorene is a farmer’s widow who ekes out a living by secretly making moonshine. She’s one of Edith’s suppliers, but lives alone out in the boonies. Lorene is very intrigued by this strange woman who dresses like a man, acts tough, and is known as bulldyke, one of those who likes women. One night Edith saves Lorene from one of Ace’s henchmen and they start to open up to each other.

Overall, I liked this story. However, the plot has many holes and the writing is clunky in some parts. That said, the relationship between the women develops very nicely and is rather sweet. This was the best part for me.

The main issue I had with the writing was that in parts, characters acted in improbable ways or said things that I felt were out of character. And I don’t like to say this, but some of the plot is outright amateurishly written with a distinct lack of credible reality to me.

For example, when one of Ace’s men comes to threaten Lorene, she gets her gun but then puts it down when he says he will kill her. Why not just blow his brains out?

And we get to read her thoughts, which were a bit redundant:

Perhaps I can outsmart him. How though?”

“What’s he going to do?” A few sentences later…

What will he do to me?”

She then convinces this guy to let her go upstairs by herself. Really, this guy who is a major thug say’s OK? After he easily gets her other gun away she says:

Get in your car! Leave now!” Yeah, like he will obey that.

The whole scene was very dumb and a bit hokey. I’d get into how inept some of the bootlegger gangsters were in scenes with Edith, but it was a problem for me throughout the book about the plot in general being underdeveloped and a bit unrealistic.

As long as we’re on Lorene, she’s supposed to be this kind of naïve country farm wife. As a character I liked her although there’s not much about her and her background other than she’s a widow. And although she does make moonshine, she’s not really that worldly or sophisticated. She acts very sweet and innocently open when Edith seduces her and is generally portrayed as a “good” country woman. In bed though, she’s suddenly a tomcat, very explicit in her sexual language:

“Oh Lordy, I’m so sure, you wouldn’t believe it. I want your tongue in my pussy.”

Really? Would some country farmer's wife in the early 20’s really talk like that? This after only one minor sexual experience with Edith. I don’t know, it just seemed out of character for her to talk so sexually explicit and it threw me out of the scenes in which she did that. I think someone who's not that sexually experienced would be a bit more tentative and not as forthright as she was.

There were some good things about this book though, which in the end made it a better read for me than it actually is technically. I loved the way the relationship between Edith and Lorene developed. Edith is a lesbian who doesn’t hide the fact. Lorene has been married and has no idea about women being together, only that she has some attraction to Edith.

While Edith is attracted to Lorene, she’s not pushy with her or overly aggressive, but eases her into a sexual relationship by kind of properly courting her and spending time with her doing normal things, like having a meal together and so on. Lorene is very curious about Edith and respects her, thinking her gutsy and different and feels some sexual attraction to her. I liked that while it’s all new to her, she doesn’t judge it or Edith for that matter, but feels excited about being a bit naughty.

Edith as a character is also nicely written. There are so many female heroines or characters in romance that are stereotypical women in that they are so helpless to men, especially in this time period. In this case, Edith is an independent, strong woman who takes risks, is willing to fight for herself and has qualities that are admirable even if she is breaking the law. It’s very refreshing to read a woman doing a non stereotypical female job.

Yet at the same time, she’s not a butch type of lesbian. She’s very soft yet firm in her way with Lorene, which was what left me with an overall better impression and good feeling about this story.

I will say that Ladylegger was a good enough read that I’m glad I did read it and can recommend it if writing technicalities don’t bother you and you are in it more for the emotional feeling and connections. That said, it was definitely NOT worth $4.25 Loveyoudivine press charges. Not for the writing quality or word count.

Sex rating: Orgasmic- Mostly graphically written vanilla f/f, minor anal, and dildo use.

Grade: I’m going to give a separate grade here. C- for the writing and Plot. B for the emotional/ sexual relationship that was written very nicely and left me with a good feeling.


kirsten saell said...

I'm always leery when there's a glaring grammatical error in the first sentence of the blurb. Oy.

Clearly I wouldn't be able to read this. My head would explode. Even ignoring redundancies and plot holes, there's only so much my internal editor can stand before my brain goes kablooie.

I just wish all epublishers would take themselves seriously--this is a business and you're selling a product. Quality is important--especially in the copy that is supposed to entice readers to buy.

I've been to the LYD website and after digging around for about 15 minutes, I couldn't find any submission info, which makes me wonder if its owners and its authors are the same people? *shrugs*

I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as you did, Leah. :)

MB (Leah) said...

Wow, how surprising that LYD doesn't have submission info. I found out the publisher's name on LYD site and then googled her. When I did that, the submission page came up as a link.

Interesting though that it's not easily found on their site from the home page. I went back to home page and couldn't find it easily.

The trouble with them is that there's no uniform pricing except for that they are ridiculous in it.

Unfortunately, they are one of the few epubs that offers a lot of f/f, which is not straight up lesbian only.

I did notice the most of the books are written by the same group of authors.

Yeah, you wouldn't like this book. I'm easier at letting go of technical things if it strikes something in me emotionally.

But by and far, it's badly written and like I said, definitely NOT worth the money.

M. A. said...

Clearly I wouldn't be able to read this. My head would explode. Even ignoring redundancies and plot holes, there's only so much my internal editor can stand before my brain goes kablooie.

*glum nod* I really love historical fiction, so I'd probably really like this story if it weren't "raw."