Thursday, November 5, 2009

Review- Dreaming of Harmony by Jade Buchanan

Dreaming of Harmony
by Jade Buchanan
2008
Contemporary/ Lesbian/Erotica
6K words- $2.49
Ebook

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

5 comments:

M. A. said...

Hi, everyone. : )

Leah, I just finished reading "Dreaming of Harmony." I agree with much of your review.

It's a lovely short story, the pacing's very good. I got all swooney over Erin Beck (ghost) and her lost opportunities recovered. Erin Beck (protagonist) was an interesting, well-drawn character. I had enough emotional investment in Erin Beck (protagonist) to keep reading.

Ironically, considering Erin (ghost) and Erin (protagonist) were nice, three-dimensional characters, I was a bit unsettled by the inconsistency of Harmony's character. IMHO, Harmony read like Ms. Buchanan wasn't quite sure who she wanted Harmony to be.

Introduced in the beginning of the story, Harmony comes across as very sexy, but also a very open, gregarious character (in my head I almost heard her speaking with a southern drawl.) She communicated that she liked Erin and felt comfortable with her.

In the love scene, however, Harmony sounded like someone completely different -- her speech patterns seemed more formal, almost British to my "ear." I was half expecting Dream Harmony to be some kind of demon, or a portion of Harmony's subconscious, or something. Not "real" Harmony (as I already "knew" her.)

Also, I recognize this is a short story and Erin (Ghost) explained that Harmony was Erin's soul mate, but the leap (from casual, friendly neighbor/crush to lover) was a bit abrupt. I think an extra scene or two "fleshing" out Erin and Harmony's involvement/romantic possibilities PRIOR to their consummation would have been a better transition to lovers (i.e., a "coffee date" conversation, or maybe Erin visits the library where Harmony works and the two "bond" a little over a book or something.)

I think the disappointment factor in the "paranormal intervention" has to do with the fact that, although Erin desires Harmony, Erin did not actually do anything -- make any attempt at all -- to win Harmony. She merely "wished" for her, and found herself happily in bed with her. There was no resolution to Harmony's interest/attraction, no real romance between them. The friend/neighbors became lovers without any credible transition or follow-up to the paranormal events making them lovers. Even fantasy/escapism fiction should make sense.

My comments may sound like I dislike "Dreaming of Harmony." I don't. It's a cute short story, I don't feel I wasted time or money on the purchase and read. I'm not advocating the story should have been a novel, or even a novella. But...just a little bit "more" (relationship building, establishment of Harmony's "true" characterisation)would have brought "Dreaming of Harmony" from a good, entertaining quick read to a solid, well-rounded short story.

A few other personal peeves (matter to me, probably won't to others:)

a) Erin's guilt over admiring Harmony's shoes. Many women are shoe mavens and stop women they don't even know to ask them about shoes they admire. I get Erin may not be a shoe maven, but admiring another woman's shoes isn't proof of "improer" attractions.

b) I was a bit irked by the downplaying of Harmony's job (librarian?) The implication is that such work is boring or mundane compared to Erin's more "exciting" job. The basic education requirements for librarians are grueling (they are some of the most educated people in the world, and the ones who have specialties are downright frightening.) I don't know if Ms. Buchanan is aware the basic librarian job requires a Masters and additional specialization may mean more years of education AND some states require certification as well.

(NOTE: Ms. Buchanan did not actually call Harmony a "librarian," but refered to her "boring job at the library," so maybe I'm not being entirely fair and Harmony isn't a librarian. If she was, lack of research is showing.)

MB (Leah) said...

Also, I recognize this is a short story and Erin (Ghost) explained that Harmony was Erin's soul mate, but the leap (from casual, friendly neighbor/crush to lover) was a bit abrupt.

See, I didn't get that Erin (ghost) actually said to Erin (protagonist) that Harmony was her soul mate, but more got that idea from Erin (ghost) being part of the story and sharing her personal story with Erin (protagonist).

And yes, it was so abrupt, which is why I still did not believe that it might actually be happening as opposed to being just a nice dream that Erin (ghost) facilitated for Erin's (p) benefit or to teach her to go for what she desires.

There was no resolution to Harmony's interest/attraction, no real romance between them.

I think what would have been nice for me would have been to get more info from Harmony's POV to know that she was harboring some kind of attraction to Erin. Most of this story is told from Erin (P) and Erin (g) POV, so I did get a fairly good feel for both of them, like you say.

This is why I was a bit annoyed that Harmony and Erin getting together in bed for the first time was more dream like. It comes across as more about a fantasy than reality.

It's a cute short story, I don't feel I wasted time or money on the purchase and read. I'm not advocating the story should have been a novel, or even a novella. But...just a little bit "more" (relationship building, establishment of Harmony's "true" characterisation)would have brought "Dreaming of Harmony" from a good, entertaining quick read to a solid, well-rounded short story.

See that's the thing. I liked this story as well and I think my little bit of disappointment was about it being too short and not fleshed out a bit more. But at this point I keep seeing myself making excuse after excuse for what are basically good stories that fall short due to not being fully developed and I've reached my tolerance level for buying them.

I know that while I did like this story, it would have wowed me so much more had it been just a bit more fleshed out as you say. At least give me a feel for both the women and how they connect to each other.

b) I was a bit irked by the downplaying of Harmony's job (librarian?) The implication is that such work is boring or mundane compared to Erin's more "exciting" job.

Yes, that was a bit off to me as well. What's wrong with being a librarian? See, I just assumed she is one because most people who work in libraries are one. But semantics.

At any rate, I felt that the contrast in jobs was more to give Erin excuses to herself on why Harmony might not notice her and to make a dream come true be more dramatic. Like Cinderella getting the prince. Or princess in this case. :)

M. A. said...

I think what would have been nice for me would have been to get more info from Harmony's POV to know that she was harboring some kind of attraction to Erin...

Yes! Exactly! Even a quick paragraph or two of Harmony's train of thought could have been sooo helpful. Just something to establish genuine romantic possibility between them.

I know it's very hard when working in the constraint of shorter word counts, but with creative planning "a little goes a long way."

I DO feel Ms. Buchanan implied returned romantic attraction on Harmony's part in the opening scene, but it was subtle. In the fantasy/dream, Harmony seemed different to me...and in a way that "works" because, more often than not, fantasies stray from reality.

I think a little more would have helped. Character development for Harmony and relationship building. Even if Erin "woke up" from her fantasy, got dressed, and went to Harmony's house to ask her out -- take a chance -- it might have been more romantic.

The story as is, though, is a nice short story of a woman given the gift of a dream. I hesitate to call it a love story, because love between the two women isn't established clearly...and that may be the cause of my griping.

MB (Leah) said...

Even if Erin "woke up" from her fantasy, got dressed, and went to Harmony's house to ask her out -- take a chance -- it might have been more romantic.

So did you take that whole thing as a dream and not reality with the part missing about how Harmony ended up with Erin? Because Harmony does say it's real, which made that confusing because, yes, there was nothing to make it a concrete thing.

I got the impression it was real, but was left ambiguous enough that it could go either way. My personal wish was that it was real and that it was magikal powers of Erin (ghost) that helped that along.

Heh, when I read a story, or love story that is this short and comes across as more a fantasy, then why would I read that? I have my own fantasies which are far better. snort.

I'd rather read about characters that are real and actually get together rather than reading about one character's fantasy life only.

I know it's very hard when working in the constraint of shorter word counts, but with creative planning "a little goes a long way."

But this is what I don't get. Isn't is in the author's hands to write a full story. Is there someone at the publisher specifically stating that a story HAS to be a certain word count?

Can't an author just change a story to be a novella or category from a short story if it's going to leave so many holes?

This is my current frustration. Very few authors can do a short story really well. So why is it that they can't just add a another 2K or whatever to really make a good story?

Sometimes I see it as being a bit lazy or that the author didn't really know what she wanted to do exactly and just left it.

This story is a good story. Likable characters, nice premise and so on, so why not really go all out and make it a great story all around. It wouldn't have taken much.

But more and more I'm seeing stories that are 6K and less and I guess I'm tired of paying money for what I feel are not polished or fully realized products.

I'll admit that now that I'm in school full time, it is nice to read shorter stories since I don't have time for a lot of full novel often, but I'm almost always frustrated and disappointed by a product that I feel is good but not complete.

M. A. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.