Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Review- Loving Ellie by Dalia Craig

Loving Ellie
by Dalia Craig
2009
Contemporary/ f/f, erotic
5K- $2
eBook- Loveyoudivine

Buy it Loveyoudivine, ARe, Fictionwise

Two women thrown together by circumstance fight their attraction for each other.

When banker Taylor Hendry swaps jobs and apartments with her colleague, Samantha Crighton it seems a good deal until she meets Samantha’s flat mate, Ellie. Taylor lusts after Ellie, from the outset, but is wary of emotional involvement with this tall, dark, sexy, femme after Sam warned her not to mess with Ellie’s vulnerable emotions.

Journalist, Ellie Lawrence, finds her attraction to Taylor confusing. She’s never had a lesbian relationship, not even a girl crush; but Taylor’s arrival provokes intense sexual feelings, which clamor for fulfillment. For the first time in her life, she wants to have full-on mad passionate sex with a woman.


Loving Ellie is a really short quickie that had a nice feel to it even though it had no plot nor character development.

OK, about the story. It’s cute. It’s rather sweet. It will take you about ½ hour to read.

Although written in third person, it starts out from Taylor’s POV. She’s a lesbian, I guess. She talks in lesbian speak about Ellie being a femme, the kind she likes. Taylor’s friend Sam, who is Ellie’s best friend from childhood and whom she lived with is also a lesbian, so I thought that Ellie must be a lesbian too.

Yes, yes, it’s in the blurb that she’s not, but I didn’t read the blurb. Or I did a long time ago and forgot about it.

About midway through the story, the POV switches to inside Ellie’s head and where she’s coming from. She’s suddenly attracted to Taylor, the first women she’s ever had any sexual/romantic attraction to and finds herself a bit shocked at her depth of “sexual” attraction for a woman. She’s also not too sure that Taylor is a lesbian, so she’s not clear if she should go with her sexual desires one night after getting drunk at a party they both go to or not. Hmmm…

As far as the writing goes, this was mostly a narrative of each girl’s story with about 5 lines of dialogue. Just a basic set up for the sex really. I would have liked more dialogue as a way to build up the sexual tension and maybe an emotional connection, but alas.

There is a sex scene. Yes, in this short story their first sexual encounter is included but there was no tension really. They meet and we are told that Taylor is really hot for Ellie. Then we are told that Ellie is turned on by Taylor and they do it. End of story.


I will say that it was nicely written though in the way that I didn’t feel pissed off or cheated like I usually do with a story so lacking in any development. I was left feeling good afterward about my 1/2 hour of reading this. But still, I prefer to have dialogue and action to see where the characters are coming from.

Two tropes that I’ve come to know from many f/f are in this: orgasm has never happened with a man but magically happens with a woman, and the “I’m NOT a lesbian” angsting mantra.

Maybe one day I'll do a post on common tropes that I feel are lame short cuts to create tension and or a reason for straight chicks to suddenly be attracted to a woman instead of developing character motivations and psychology.

I’d recommend this to anyone who feels like a quickie f/f erotic story. You know, for when you’re waiting in line for something or taking a bath or for a nightcap.

Heat rating: 5- graphic sexual language with girl on girl. Masturbation, dildo

Grade: C+

11 comments:

M. A. said...

What a great review! This story sounds good for a quick read. I'm developing honest appreciation for shorter stories between rounds of classwork.

Two tropes that I’ve come to know from many f/f are in this: orgasm has never happened with a man but magically happens with a woman, and the “I’m NOT a lesbian” angsting mantra.


The absence of orgasm trope doesn't bug me all that much. It's used in M/F romance, too. And I actually do consider it kind of realistic because I do know women who claim either not to experience orgasm or not to easily or regularly experience orgasm.

But yeah, the "Am I Lesbian?" trope has disappointed me more than once, as has the M/M equivalent ("Man, I can't be a homo/sissy/queer/etc.") I appreciate authors consider this a valid response especially if a character is taken unawares and discovers same-sex attraction kind of abuptly. As a reader, it bugs me because it assigns negativity to same sex attraction and same sex relationships.

LVLM said...

M.A. you know, I've been reading a longer lesbian story called Femme Noir, but I'm so slammed with school work and can only read at night before sleeping. I figured by the time I finished that book, a full novel, this blog would have cob webs. So I looked for a short quickie in my ebookwise.

Yes, the do come in handy for a quick pick me up in between the longer books.

About the orgasm thing, well, yeah, I've read it in a m/f or two. But it seems to be more a of a quick reason for a straight girl to suddenly realize that she was gay all along after getting an orgasm with a woman.

Maybe I'm just getting jaded with the same story being written over and over when a straight girl gets with a woman the first time.

I think, yeah, it is realistic. Like I think it's realistic that a woman who finds herself suddenly attracted to a women for the first time would question her sexuality. But still, it seems to be the same reaction over and over.

I would love to read a straight girl falls in love with a woman and just enjoys it for what it is.

Cathy in AK said...

I would love to read a straight girl falls in love with a woman and just enjoys it for what it is.

Agreed. I realize "OMG, I like a girl" is going to be a realistic reaction for a first timer, but does it have to come with all the angst? Really? So much that it's the *only* conflict? Unless there is a huge reason for the freak out, ie: raised uber strict, conservative, fundamentalist household. But I still might not want it to be the entire conflict of the story. I prefer something more along the lines of, "Huh, whadaya know. I like a girl" as well (and try to keep that idea in my own stuff ;).

The "I never had a decent orgasm before you came along" thing is, as M.A. pointed out, across the pairs board, so that trope is no biggie no matter who says it. I don't mean to belittle anyone who has orgasm issues, but there do seem to be a lot of romance heroines in this situation.

kirsten saell said...

Ugh. The "my first orgasm" thing bugs me at least as much as the "OMG, I must be a LESBIAN!!!" thing.

First orgasm I had? Courtesy of my right hand (all the left one gets is boobs, heh).

Every time I read about a heroine who's never had one despite being over the age of 16? Makes me mad. Even if you're not sexually active, there's no excuse, really. If you can have one by yourself, you can have one with another person. Shit, learn how the buttons work before you hand the controls over to someone else.

Do none of these heroines ever masturbate? Don't they ever say to themselves, "Gee, I've been with three guys and none of them ever 'gave' me one...maybe I ought to buy a dirty magazine or look at some internet porno, put on some Barry White, and figure this shit out"?

Boys start developing sexual agency the moment they stick their hand down their diaper and discover something fun happens. Why are girls/women different? I don't get it.

Yeah, it may be realistic (since an insane percentage of women between 18 and 50 have NEVER had an orgasm), but it's not a reality I care to perpetuate in the books I write.

DIY, ladies. Be the change.

LVLM said...

Heh, I'm with Kirsten on the orgasm thing. I guess what bugs me is that it's a short cut to that person who gives you one being magical or more uber important than any other person. It's a quick way to establish a deeper connection between characters that doesn't exist due to lack of actual relationship development.

While I have read it in m/f, maybe it's just my personal experience but I can't even recall the "orgasm" thing being an issue in any of them. Whereas there's been several f/f in which the woman can't have one with a man but does with a woman.

And that one book the girl couldn't have orgasms at all even with a woman, but she was a lesbian and finally had one with the "right"woman.

Maybe it's not the orgasm itself but the concept that having a orgasm with someone makes them more special, THE one, used in a story bugs me. And that could be totally because of who I am and my personal experiences of being able to have orgasms easily and with anyone, no matter what I feel about a person.

Cathy- the angsting in the story isn't huge because it's too short for any real angsting. But for such a short book, she does repeat it to herself a few times, "I'm not a lesbian"

So it's not heavy like I'm gonna kill myself now, but the fact that it's repeated several times makes me always feel, so what?

kirsten saell said...

Oy. I remember that one book--Swap--where the two women finally get their freak on together and the one woman, even though she's turned on, can't come despite the other using a strap-on. She needs one of the guys to "finish her off". Also bugged me.

I mean, I can see not having one during a one-night stand or a short-lived relationship, because yeah, it can be hard to relax with someone who's new to you. But if you've been with a guy for years and never had one, and you've never stopped to wonder if it might behoove you to take matters into your own hands, learn what works, and convey that information (tactfully) to your boyfriend/husband?

Honestly, this should have become the norm with Rosie the Riveter. A woman is "rawr!" enough to assemble munitions in a factory, fly a fighter jet or be elected Prime Minister of the UK, but a woman isn't "rawr!" enough to take control of her own sexual fulfilment? WTF?

As for the "am I a lesbian" angsting, well, the more angsting there is, the more it feels like the mere thought of being a lesbian is like "OMG, do I have a terminal disease??" to the character. I'd actually rather see it take the form of, "Shit, how's Uncle Fred going to react when I bring Cindy as my date to cousin Sheila's wedding?" Kind of a "how do I fit this new relationship into my life" thing, rather than a "there must be something wrong with me because being a lesbian is the worst thing ever!" thing.

And I'd be even happier if the heroine discovering her love for a woman self-identified as bi, or fluid, or "just me" or even kept thinking of herself as straight--because female sexual orientation/identity is really not a "feed data into a spreadsheet and get standardized results" kind of thing. It's going to be very different from woman to woman.

Many lesbians are still sexually attracted to men (some of them equally attracted to men and women), but self-identify as lesbians based on their greater emotional attraction/compatibility with women. And a lot of women who regularly bonk other women think of themselves as straight because they'd never want an actual relationship with a woman.

It's all a lot more complex than "Holy crap, I'm a lesbian!"

M. A. said...

Agreed. I realize "OMG, I like a girl" is going to be a realistic reaction for a first timer, but does it have to come with all the angst? Really? So much that it's the *only* conflict? Unless there is a huge reason for the freak out, ie: raised uber strict, conservative, fundamentalist household. But I still might not want it to be the entire conflict of the story. I prefer something more along the lines of, "Huh, whadaya know. I like a girl" as well (and try to keep that idea in my own stuff ;).

I think what concerns me in the "Oh no! I must be lesbian!" trope is that the angst/panic suggests several things:

1. It suggests the heroine lacks self-awareness. Let's be frank. If one experiences a romantic/erotic attraction to another female at, say, age 25 and up, I'd guess the chances are good one has already experienced attraction or "crushes" on other females in the past (a teacher, a school friend, a neighbor.)

Even in younger heroines, it doesn't "ring true" to me, because I think, generally, younger people tend to have greater openness to experience than their elders.

Anyway...If the heroine is so lacking in self-awareness and self-knowledge she's shocked and disturbed to discover she's attracted to a woman, that suggests to me she's far from ready for a romantic relationship. She needs to be better related to herself.

2. I agree with Kirsten's take that the "GBLT crisis angst" is homophobic. It's all a matter of personal taste, but I don't enjoy reading pages and pages of storyline where a character obsesses about how "awful" it would be to be indentified as GBLT.

LVLM mentions it makes sense for a person to question his/her sexuality in the event they experience same-sex attraction. Questionning one's sexuality and personal preferences shouldn't be the same thing as tap-dancing on one's head via a swamp of guilt, embarassment, self-loathing, homophobia, and fear. If it's that "bad," I don't think the person is ready to address the same-sex attraction.

It's basically "baggage," the same kind of "baggage" a straight person might carry into new relationships after a traumatic breakup or divorce unless s/he resolves the baggage first.

3. I also feel the angsting character's issues result in s/he exploiting the love interest to some extent. I find that about as unromantic as cold, dry toast, and then I don't get my warm-fuzzy escapism, which is why I read romance.

With all that said, I may not represent the "target audience" for which GBLT romance is written. It could be that some readers enjoy the angst and struggle of a character coming to grips with the GBLT aspect of his/her sexuality.

M. A. said...

Maybe it's not the orgasm itself but the concept that having a orgasm with someone makes them more special, THE one, used in a story bugs me.

I agree. A gruesome fact: some rapists have been able to stimulate their victims to orgasm during an assault. Does that make them "special?"

That said, I am acquainted with women who claim dificulty reaching climax or who have never climaxed. So I can see how the inability to experience orgasm could be used as a romantic trope. Sometimes it's done tastefully and I find it believeable. Other times, as you've stated, it's just a plot device.

Yes, (short fiction does)come in handy for a quick pick me up in between the longer books.

Yes, I appreciate them for that reason. : )

kirsten saell said...

1. It suggests the heroine lacks self-awareness. Let's be frank. If one experiences a romantic/erotic attraction to another female at, say, age 25 and up, I'd guess the chances are good one has already experienced attraction or "crushes" on other females in the past (a teacher, a school friend, a neighbor.)

Not necessarily.

A lot of bi-women come into their same-sex attractions later in adulthood, and have never experienced "crushes" on girls or women prior to that stage of life. I don't believe this type of scenario happens with actual lesbians--that one day a woman discovers she's no longer attracted to men at all, and is suddenly attracted to women when she had never been before. But for bi-women, sexual fluidity may be something that can begin at age 20 or 30 or 50.

In those cases, the fluidity may be there from the beginning, but it's latent and doesn't necessarily even present in fantasy, let alone attractions that are strong enough to be noticed by the person feeling them.

There are even women who had never been attracted to other women or fantasized about other women until they engaged in a swinging relationship where they found themselves having a sexual experience with a woman--and then after that experience have found themselves all over that bi stuff. In other words, the attraction and fantasies are triggered by the experience itself--a cart before the horse thing.

It's just really complex. Which is why the pat ending of such books where the heroine almost always ends up deciding she's a lesbian pisses me right the eff off.

M. A. said...

Kirsten, you make some very valid points.

I think, though, in order to rule successfully on whether women later in life suddenly realize unprecedented same-sex attraction, a sample group would be required, specifically a group in an environment free to explore sexual possibility without risk of negative consequence.


By that I mean that women presently demonstrating or embracing sexual fluidity in advanced years...Most, if not all, had little opportunity to develop that fluidity earlier due to social norms restricting their options.

If the average 1950's woman had been able to develop romantic attachments to another woman without consequence, would more women in those days have done so, or at least paid heed to any desire they experienced to do so?

Mind you, I'm not saying your perspective of the situation isn't the right one; it may very well be so. I do say that our present-day environment is less likely to penalize GBLT individuals, so it is much easier for people to accept GBLT attraction as "okay" and not suffer consequences for it.

I think a more telling result would be if women born in the last decade or so grow up with "purely het" experience and interest, then abruptly discover GBLT interest in their later years.

There are even women who had never been attracted to other women or fantasized about other women until they engaged in a swinging relationship where they found themselves having a sexual experience with a woman--and then after that experience have found themselves all over that bi stuff. In other words, the attraction and fantasies are triggered by the experience itself--a cart before the horse thing.


I don't believe a woman willing to participate in a swinging experience involving other women has zero desire for
women. It's never occured to me to go to bed with someone I did not want to take to bed in the first place. A woman in this position may choose to consider herself being "generous" to a lover or spouse, but just that she would entertain the idea in the first place indicates at least some curiosity/interest on her part.

I once read an interesting book by Sydney Biddle Barrows (the former "Mayflower Madam".) She mentionned how her male clients occassionally employed a call-girl to make love to their wives/girlfriends to fulfill his f/f fantasies.

Inevitably these deals went one of two ways: the wife/girlfriend couldn't get "into it" at all, in which case the call-girl ended the "show" OR the wife/girlfriend got VERY into it and really enjoyed it...to the point that the guy got peeved because he felt "left out." The men were almost always disillusioned with fulfilling that type of fantasy because, in the end, the fantasy really wasn't focussed upon their pleasure. It was all about the women and the man felt excluded or left behind.

Some even complained or felt they shouldn't have to pay for the call-girl's services, even though the call-girl did exactly what she'd been requested to do.

LVLM said...

It could be that some readers enjoy the angst and struggle of a character coming to grips with the GBLT aspect of his/her sexuality.

I don't mind the angsting if the character comes from a situation in which being gay would be a huge black mark or they would suffer nasty consequences from it. Like being disowned by a loved family or threatened with job loss or something like that. Or if the character is shown to have overt homophobic tendencies and the revelation to themselves that they are gay is a huge psychological shock.

In this book, Ellie lived with a lesbian for years, so she wasn't unaware or had no clue about what being a lesbian was all about. She was obviously open to being with lesbians. So the questioning doesn't ring as true and is then just a plot device.

I think, though, in order to rule successfully on whether women later in life suddenly realize unprecedented same-sex attraction, a sample group would be required, specifically a group in an environment free to explore sexual possibility without risk of negative consequence.

I belong to this group. I've experimented with women sexually and it did nothing for me. I had no hangups about it and went willingly into it to see how it would feel. I also felt no fears that if I liked it I would be gay and oh horrors.

All these years I rarely fantasized about sex with a woman, nor did I have any special attractions to any particular woman that would have compelled me to seek further closeness.

Now I'm in my 50's I find myself very attracted to having a romantic/sexual relationship with a woman, if I weren't married or if my husband would be open to it. There's something about it that I kind of crave or desire right now.

And frankly, when I started reading erotica and found myself turned on by and kind of excited to read girl on girl, I was a bit shocked because it's not something I ever thought about or fantasized about. So yeah, it was interesting to me and I've not been closed.

Why now at my age this is so, I don't know. It's not like I'm not happy with my husband.

Most, if not all, had little opportunity to develop that fluidity earlier due to social norms restricting their options.

Most of us in our later years now, the ones that there's been several articles about came of age during the 60's and 70's when sexual expression wasn't frowned upon.

Or maybe I just grew up in a more progressive, liberal area because I don't recall my peers being uptight about sex or even gay/lesbians. So I'm not sure that it's so much an issue now as maybe 10 years ago about coming of age during the 50's and prior when things were more hush hush and prudish.

I agree that younger heroines don't come across realistically if they're all "OMG I'm a lesbian" but I can see someone a bit older falling in love with a woman for the first time and freaking a bit.

Personally, I wouldn't angst all over the place. It's why I have a hard time reading it really. I think if I fell in love with a woman and she with me, it'd be something very nice and juicy and not something I'd be all "OMG now what do I do"

But that's me. I'm sure other's would have a different idea.