Thursday, November 19, 2009

Review- In the Eyes of Love by Sheri Livingston

In the Eyes of Love
by Sheri Livingston
June, 2006
Contemporary/ Lesbian
60K- $5.99

Buy it Loose-Id, Fictionwise, ARebooks

When Morgan’s lover leaves her after nine years, betrayal drives her deep into work and denial. She’s not looking for anyone else, because she’ll never forget Dawn.

Shane is an artist, content in her world of line and form. Though lonely, she blames herself for the death of her ex and can’t see past her guilt.

Morgan’s job at the magazine brings her and Shane together. The attraction is undeniable, the passion explosive.

Now that Morgan’s found someone else, Dawn desperately wants her back. She uses every dirty trick, pulls every sexual string, and Morgan takes her back. But she can’t stop thinking about Shane…

First, the blurb is a bit off. Morgan, after years of being clueless that she’s been with a narcissistic bitch, walks out on her long time partner after she discovers for the first time that she’s been cheated on. Dawn didn’t leave Morgan, but stalks her constantly trying to win her back.

It’s been a year since Morgan told Dawn to go to hell, but she still cannot let go of her and walks around with a sad face thinking about Dawn all the time. Her friends who all love her, hover around her and intercede often trying to protect her from Dawn, but she keeps going back.

Morgan works for a popular magazine and has been trying to get an interview with Shane, a well known artist who keeps blowing her off for some reason. Shane did go to meet Morgan, but seeing Morgan from behind and the sadness in her eyes through the glass reflection, ran fearing the intense attraction she felt. Shane’s got her own big ole sad past that’s unresolved and feeling this kind of attraction again is something she’d rather avoid.

Dawn, who’s basically a sociopath, has been with Morgan since high school and is obsessed with her. But Dawn comes on to and sleeps with anything that is female and is alive because she can and just to be nasty. She feels that she has a right to do as she pleases, while keeping Morgan all to herself. So she does what any person like that would do, she stalks and harasses and preys on Morgan’s feelings and inability to let go, constantly.

Ok, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this story. Obviously I’m doing a review so I did find it compelling enough to finish it, but it did push a few of my buttons. It’s one of those things that I’ve come to know in many lesbian stories as estrogen overload. It seemed like one long emo fest, with a few bright spots of budding love.

This story started out great. I really liked Morgan. She comes across as tough and savvy in her work even if after one year she cannot stop thinking about Dawn. And in the beginning Shane is also a very interesting character. She came across as a powerful eccentric type who had a lot of intrigue about her. After Shane and Morgan meet though, which is fairly early on, it kind of goes in fits and starts from there.

Morgan spends most of the story pining after Dawn and Shane intermittently. She’s trying to break away from Dawn while opening up to Shane, going back and forth and back and forth. I seriously felt that she deserved Dawn after a while. Why would you keep feeling something so strongly for someone and even consider going back after being cheated on for ten years? 10 YEARS! Not to mention the whole creepy, controlling, stalker thing going on.

And then there’s Shane’s super secret past. Through most of the beginning of the book there are just hints of some painful experience. We soon find out though, that Shane has been blaming herself for what happened with her last partner, who by the way, was no better than Dawn. Shane's still carrying a torch and blame for what happened to her ex, putting her on a pedestal as if the ex was any kind of a decent person herself. Her ex cheated on her all the time and cruelly told Shane what a loser she is and to deal with it or get lost.

What’s with all this love and pining over people who basically are/ were a shit and didn’t/don’t know the first thing about love? Instead of coming across as damaged and sympathetic, both Shane and Morgan came across as pathetic after a while.

Morgan and Shane’s way of relating was often also very frustrating. Shane comes on to Morgan straight away after they meet and Morgan is very attracted. They have one beautiful night of really hot sex, both opening up to each other emotionally and all seems great. But then Shane goes all iceberg on Morgan’s ass right after, which throws Morgan back into Dawns arms. Why? Shane does this several times; blows hot and cold. She loves Morgan, but feels that Morgan will hurt her by going back to Dawn, so she cruelly blows her off time and again only to keep perpetuating her fears about Morgan going back to Dawn.

Neither one of them will openly express what’s really going on, but constantly hint to each other that there’s reason for each of them to fear loving each other. They are both feeling insecure about each other. But instead of trying to alleviate the other’s fears, they hold back from saying what’s going on. *Headdesk*

I really have a hard time with the big misunderstanding trope that could easily be dealt with by opening the mouth and talking a little bit. I get that it’s an author’s way to keep up some tension, but for me that frustrates more than keeps me interested.

I know this looks like I hated this book, but that’s not true. A lot of it did annoy me, however, there were some really good moments in this book that did keep me turning the pages.

Those times when Morgan and Shane were in alignment and flowing together were very nicely written. Very loving and sexually hot. And it was clear that both really want and love each other. That’s what kept me reading this story. There were just enough of those moments that it did give me a better overall impression than other specifics that bothered me.

If you like the kind of story about a lot of emotional love drama then I think In the Eyes of Love will be a satisfying read. I wish there would have been more of Morgan and Shane and their budding relationship with less of the negative angsty drama, but this story still worked for me on some level.

Sex rating: orgasmic- f/f, mostly vanilla, some minor anal play. It was pretty juicy vanilla though.

Grade: B for technically being nicely written, C for the story itself.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Review- Birthday Girl by Paisley Smith

Birthday Girl
by Paisley Smith
November 2009
Contemporary/ erotica/ f/f/m ménage
Length- quickie (up to 15K) $2.49

Buy it Ellora’s Cave

It’s Gemma’s thirty-second birthday. She’s not surprised when her gorgeous husband Nate whips out the blindfold and orders her to bend over for a birthday spanking. What does surprise her is that Nate has enlisted the help of a friend. Another woman!

Lindsey is a sexy Bohemian artist who has starred in Gemma’s fantasies for a long while. She doesn’t know what will happen beyond this single night of scorching sex play, but for now, Gemma fully intends to enjoy every new touch, taste, sight and sound her “birthday gift” has to offer.

It was just by chance that I came across this author and book. I have a GLBT promo blog on my reader and saw that a post was written wondering about straight women liking f/f stories or not. It was a lead in to promo this book Birthday Girl. I went and read the freebie story of Ms. Smith’s offered at Ellora’s Cave and totally loved it as you can see from my earlier post. I then downloaded Birthday Girl and again, I was so not disappointed. In fact, I read it all just before going to sleep, which never happens; I’m usually falling asleep after a reading a few pages of a book.

Like First Taste, this story is sexually, steamy hot. Also like First Taste, within a short amount of space, Paisley Smith managed to convey how much these characters love and respect each other. Again, I was left with a warm and fuzzy feeling that these characters will be together for a long time even though seriously, this was one long string of sex scenes/scenarios with very little plot or characterization.

The set up is very simple. It’s Gemma’s birthday and her husband Nate, whom she’s madly and totally in love with, gives her the gift of woman in her bed for a threesome. Nate has known all about Gemma’s fantasies and desires for a woman here and there and that she’s particularly liked Lindsey, a woman who frequents Nate’s Pizza restaurant and has become a friend to both of them.

Nate found out that Lindsey, who came in alone often, was more into women and that she’d just finished a long-term relationship. Lindsey confessed to him that she’s had a girl crush on Gemma for a long time. So it’s the perfect scenario.

What was so delicious here is that Gemma, who’s had inklings that’s she’s bisexual having had experimented in college, was not completely aware of her bisexuality until she gets with Lindsey and loves it so much. I thought this was written rather nicely. She’s a bit confused about her feelings but only because she really loves Nate and how can she love both Nate and Lindsey? And is it cheating to want Lindsey when she adores Nate so much?

Being with Lindsey though, has stirred up hidden feelings for her and as the two days progress with lots and lots of sex, she and Lindsey do share what they feel, neither one wanting to let go and just have this be their one and only time.

Lindsey has been with men before but they just didn’t do it for her like women did. So she’s pretty clear that in this little threesome that it’s mainly Gemma she wants. And yet, these three seem so cozy, so open and loving that I was left with the impression that they could all work out an arrangement that would keep everyone happy. Even this was written very well. Lindsey wants Gemma and although she’s not so hot on being sexual with Nate, she does like him and is very open to working something out to be with Gemma.

Nate is just a sweet guy in the background of this story. The main focus is on the two women, both sexually and emotionally, although Nate is part of a lot of the sexual scenarios, which was totally hot. But it’s mostly about Gemma and Lindsey both getting something inside of themselves deeply fulfilled by being together. It came across as all so natural. What I liked about it also was that Nate is honest that he loves seeing his wife being sexual with a woman and thinks he’s gotten lucky, but it never came across as ever for his pleasure. It was clear all along that this was for Gemma only.

There was only one niggling little problem I had with this book, but it was so minor really. I felt that at times Gemma’s self reflecting about her sexual past to Lindsey and to herself did come across more as the author doing some self reflecting. The way it was written felt more like a real post that someone would write, rather than a character thinking to themselves. This did pull me a little out of the story because it was a bit more telling than expressing. However, truly this was so minor to the whole of the story.

And just a minor warning, Paisley Smith’s prose is a bit gritty and graphic at times. I absolutely loved it, but it will be a matter of taste.

I feel that if you’re looking for a hawt quickie that’s a lot about the sex, but even more so about hot sex with characters connecting emotionally, then Birthday Girl is a juicy, yummy read.

Sex rating: Orgasmic- f/f, f/f/m, minor anal play. I will warn some that there is some serious spanking in this book with very minor BDSM play. I’m not so hot on spanking, which is why I wasn’t that quick to jump on this book before I read First Taste. That said, it didn’t come across as heavy in the BDSM area, but more light and playful. Bottom line, if I could be OK with it, it wasn’t that intense or a turn off, but will satisfy for someone who likes that sort of thing.

Grade: B+++ Definitely a short story worth the money to me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

This! What a short story should be- pimpage

First Taste
by Paisley Smith

It's FREEEEEE! Get thee over to Ellora's Cave to read/download this story.

It’s Natalie’s ten-year high school reunion and she’s reluctantly joined the planning committee. Things start to look up, though, when she finds that Haley Moore is on the committee—and she’s even more gorgeous than Natalie remembered.

Ten years before, Natalie and Haley had experimented sexually together, but when high school ended, they went their separate ways. Their unexpected reunion finds them ready to make up for lost time, both in bed and out.

Yeah, skip over the fact that there's a man and woman on the cover. I discovered that all of EC's free reads have this cover, no matter what the content.

To my regular readers. I've been bitching like hell about all the crappy short stories I've been reading. You can see in my reviews that I get rather pissed off with spending good money, and in some cases a ridiculous amount per word count, on short stories that suck. Short stories that have no emotional connection between characters, but just disconnected sex many times.

Or, there's a nice connection, but it's just too incomplete with big old gaping holes, leaving me a bit dissatisfied.

I've reached the point where I'm very leery about BUYING short stories even though I do like shorter books due to time constraints and being a slow reader.

But then comes along this little gem written by Paisley Smith. And, even better, IT'S FREE!!!

This is what chaps my ass. Here's a perfect little short story that kind of has it all. It's a very hawt and steamy, but loving story about two women together. There's just enough background to get where each woman is coming from, how they feel about each other, and it's complete.

Even though this story is basically one huge sex scene with a little bit of background, I can really feel that these two women really want each other, that they have a need to be with each other. It's totally right for both and flows so smoothly. Nice characters, great sex, no big holes and a perfect wrap up. It's just one of those satisfying reads all around the block. And the sex, yowza!

So why can't a publisher offer these kinds of books more often? If I would have paid for this story I would have walked away feeling like it was worth it, unlike several I've read recently in which I felt ripped off.

Since I loved First Taste so much I'll pimp Paisley Smith's new book just out, Birthday Girl, which is available at Ellora's Cave. I haven't read it yet so I don't know if it's as good as First Taste, but I do have hopes since this is exactly what I love to read.

It’s Gemma’s thirty-second birthday. She’s not surprised when her gorgeous husband Nate whips out the blindfold and orders her to bend over for a birthday spanking. What does surprise her is that Nate has enlisted the help of a friend. Another woman!

Lindsey is a sexy Bohemian artist who has starred in Gemma’s fantasies for a long while. She doesn’t know what will happen beyond this single night of scorching sex play, but for now, Gemma fully intends to enjoy every new touch, taste, sight and sound her “birthday gift” has to offer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Review- Dreaming of Harmony by Jade Buchanan

Dreaming of Harmony
by Jade Buchanan
Contemporary/ Lesbian/Erotica
6K words- $2.49

Buy it Changeling Press, All Romance ebooks

When Erin opened the paper she never expected to see her obituary staring back at her. Is this some idea of a cosmic joke? She’s especially unsettled when the deceased woman, who happens to share her name and birthday, starts lecturing her in her dreams. Erin knows she needs to take a few chances, but she doesn’t know how to do the one thing she’s avoided for months… seduce the girl next door. Lucky for her, fate is about to step in.

Like the last Jade Buchanan book I read, Boardroom, this is a very, very short quickie. For what it is, Dreaming of Harmony is a cute, sexy read.

Erin watches her neighbor, Harmony, through the window. She’s been fantasizing about her for a while, but has no idea if Harmony swings with women. She’s only seen Harmony with men, so she doesn’t really hope for anything. Besides, in Erin’s mind, she and Harmony are so different. Harmony is a high powered business mover and shaker who dresses classy and elegantly, while Erin is just a lowly librarian whose personal style is more hippy casual.

Enter the ghost of a recently passed woman with the same name and birth date, albeit 50 years before, as Erin and things get a bit interesting. She’s got Erin’s name and was also a lesbian, but one who spurned her female lover back in the day to fit into society. She’s come to teach Erin something important.

I liked this story. I thought it’s kind of sweet with a fun premise to it. However, there really isn’t too much to say since this was such a short story, but I’ll try.

This story is basically about a dream come true for Erin. That’s rather a double meaning because the only sexual interaction between the women has the feel of a dream to it, seems to be a dream, and yet, is maybe not a dream. It’s kind of left ambiguous from the author whether or not Harmony and Erin are actually together even though Harmony says it’s not a dream. I was still wondering after I finished the story though. At any rate, it’s a steamy sexual encounter for both.

Again though, as I’ve come to find in stories under 10k, there’s a lot missing. In this case there’s no prior interaction between Erin and Harmony except for one scene in which they have a friendly chat and Erin picks up a subtle curiosity coming from Harmony for the first time since they’ve known each other. The next thing you know, a ghost shows up and shortly after, Erin and Harmony are getting it on. Erin has no idea how she’s in bed with Harmony, only that she fell asleep and it’s all happening.

The only information available on each character are some brief descriptors of the way they dress and their occupations to tell us what they’re about. So there’s not much to know where these characters are coming from. While it’s clear that Erin is a lesbian because she’s dreaming about Harmony from the get go, even in the end, I wasn’t so sure about Harmony.

The ghost aspect to this little story was kind of cute and interesting. There was an implication though that some ghost voodoo/help was responsible for Harmony and Erin getting together, which was both unique and a bummer for me.

Maybe I just read it wrong and maybe Harmony was a lesbian or bi all along and the magik was more to help them skip the whole uncomfortable and insecure part of getting together. To be fair, in an m/f I would not have bat an eye at a little help from some paranormal aspect to get a romance going. When it comes to f/f though, I like to know that there’s no question that the sexually ambiguous character really wants the lesbian or bi character out of their own, real, desire.

At any rate, I do like Jade Buchanan’s style of writing and I do think she managed to tell a fairly complete fantasy in such a short space that left me feeling good. I think though, for myself, I’m done with these little short stories that I usually feel a bit frustrated with because they’re nicely written, with interesting characters, but carry no depth or richness to them because of the lack of length. What’s the point really?

If you’re looking for a yummy, hawt little quickie then Dreaming of Harmony is the perfect read.

Sex rating: Wet panties: one short sex scene. F/F vanilla.

Grade: B